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Thursday, January 13, 2011
Bill Hancock makes BCS case again

By Andrea Adelson

Lost this week amid all the hoopla surrounding the BCS national championship game between Auburn and Oregon were yet more comments from BCS chief Bill Hancock, extolling the virtues of the current system.

In his remarks to the Football Writers Association of America, Hancock praised the virtues of the bowl system because it allowed a team like Tulsa to travel to Hawaii, and a team like Kansas State to travel to New York City. He also said the system worked because it allowed TCU to play in the Rose Bowl, something that would have never happened under the old system. Then he went on to say the BCS had allowed teams like Boise State and TCU to thrive in the upper echelon:

There is a new populism never before imagined. A new equity that could not have been envisioned just 10 years ago. New hope that previously was inconceivable. New national fervor for a game that some believed had reached its zenith, but whose potential now seems unlimited -- a tree growing to the sky.

How has the BCS done this?

It is very simple: by providing unprecedented access to the top-tier bowl games, by maintaining the focus on the regular season and by enhancing the entire bowl system that provides a foothold for programs on their way up.


All very idealistic of course. Hancock is paid to defend the BCS, and he does a great job. The BCS did match the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the final regular-season coaches and media polls, and if we were under the old system, Oregon would have been in the Rose Bowl and Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. I get that.

But for the fourth straight year at least one undefeated team was left out of the national championship mix. I am still not quite sure how that is fair, or how it proves the system works. Is it so wrong to believe that at the very least a plus-one model would still keep all the "wonderful" things about the bowl season. And by wonderful, I mean the super-awesome matchups of .500 teams, the utter unwatchability of most of the games, and the dipping interest in the bowls. Indeed, 16 of 35 bowl games had a lower announced attendance than the Texas high school 5A state title game in 2010.

Just last week, The Associated Press ran a story that discussed fan apathy becoming a threat to the BCS, quoting Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan, "We have to find a way to revitalize the marketplace." In that same article, Hancock said, "You have to be careful to evaluate the difference between a blip and a paradigm shift."

The BCS cannot be so blind to the trend, either. The system might work as it was laid out -- to match No. 1 vs. No. 2 -- but it does not work for everybody.