The man who helped make the College Football Playoff possible is your first-ballot Hall of Fame next-door neighbor.
That’s how the Tampa Bay Times’ Martin Fennelly described Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff who will hand either Alabama coach Nick Saban or Clemson coach Dabo Swinney the trophy after the Crimson Tide and Tigers meet next Monday in Tampa.
In an in-depth look at Hancock, Fennelly used a variety of voices to describe the CFP official, who’s labeled in the piece as “one of the most powerful people in sports.” Here’s part of Fennelly’s column:
Hancock, 66, a band guy from way back, is also the executive director of the College Football Playoff, now in its third year. He’s one of the most powerful people in sports, has been for decades, having overseen the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Final Four for 13 years and then as executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, the first attempt at playoffs at college football’s highest level.
Some people hated the BCS. Nobody hated Bill Hancock.
He’s your first-ballot Hall of Fame next-door neighbor.
That’s why the soft-spoken Oklahoman, with a mountain of can-do experience in sports administration and just as much at connecting with journalists (he was one himself), was the man college presidents and conference commissioners hired when they became tired of being pounded for a BCS system that everyone despised. Hancock became the front man, defending the BCS in the media, not an easy thing, but his charm never left.
He’s the guy who helped forge the College Football Playoff, which produced one thing that everyone loves about basketball — a Final Four. He soothed major talents and egos and helped work it out. Then he helped put together a selection committee, an eclectic mix of leaders, coaches, administrators, media and, oh, yes, quite famously, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He helps conduct and steer the conversation each week as they huddle in Dallas to divine: Who’s in?
The whole piece is worth a read, and the quotes gathered by those who know Hancock are rather glowing. Former SEC commissioner Mike Slive makes an appearance in the article in which he says of Hancock, “There were a lot of issues that had to be fought over on the way to making a playoff system. Bill was the conductor. Sometimes the violins conflicted with the horns, but Bill made music.”
That music has allowed us to enjoy the College Football Playoff, now in its third season. The system isn’t perfect, and it’s likely that debate will continue about college football’s postseason structure.
But you must give credit to Hancock for allowing us to move beyond the frustrating Bowl Championship Series era.
It’s a new day in college football, and Hancock is a large reason why.