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MEDIA DAYS: Big 12 on right path regarding playoff, CFP official says

Bill Hancock

Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, speaks to members of the media during the Big 12 Conference Days on July 21 in Dallas. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro


DALLAS — Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, said he thought the Big 12 Conference is addressing expansion the right way, even though the league was left out of the postseason championship bracket in 2014.

Hancock was one of the featured speakers at the league’s media day July 21.

“One year doesn’t make a trend, and I think the Big 12 is smart to sit back and wait,” he said. “But I think they’re smart to be deliberate and thoughtful about this.”

He acknowledged that Ohio State had an advantage, which was playing a 13th game against a quality opponent, a 59-0 victory over Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship game.

Because the Big 12 has only 10 members right now, there is no conference championship game. NCAA rules say a conference must have 12 to play a conference championship game.

A day earlier, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the conference had 11 different occasions in which one team simply had to win the conference title game to advance to the national championship contest. The higher-ranked team only won six times.

Hancock cautioned fans to remember how close the Big 12 was to getting into the playoff. Had Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon or Florida State faltered, both Texas Christian University and Baylor would have advanced since they were ranked Nos. 3 and 4 in the College Football Playoff poll.

“You have to remember the risk of conference championship games,” he said. “… If two of those games had come out differently, the Big 12 could have had two teams in the playoff, and they would have looked like geniuses. Yes, Ohio State benefitted from playing Wisconsin, adding another good game to their resume. But had they lost, we’d be having whole different discussion.”

Hancock smiled when it was implied the NCAA will change its rule prohibiting a conference championship game in a league with 10 teams.

“I think with the changes that are happening with the NCAA, that will happen,” he said. “Then (the Big 12) have a decision to make.”

Hancock said he works for the conference commissioners, and the playoff is not an NCAA event. The board of managers consists of one president from each conference. Conference commissioners handle the day-to-day duties, he said.

The committee will continue to give weekly rankings, which will start after week nine, for two reasons, Hancock said. First, because fans look forward to it. The other is because if the committee doesn’t release a weekly poll, fans may put more emphasis on other polls.

“It’s the best four teams, not the best four conference champions, not automatic qualifiers,” he said. “This is pure bracket.”

The key to the committee’s voting system, Hancock said, is finding six to eight teams to compare to each other and rank them. Then, committee members find another group to start comparing to the original and keep ranking squads.

“That’s the key to rankings,” he said.

Committee members will continue to look at strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups, common opponents and conference championships won.

The semifinals will be played Dec. 31, and the championship is Jan. 11 in Phoenix.

“People have been waiting for this for years,” Hancock said. “(Bowl Championship Series) was very good for college football. It got us to where we are, but this playoff works, and we’re excited to have it.”