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Saturday, April 5, 2014
Final Four an example for playoff

By Richard Durrett
ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's not just the college basketball world that has its eyes on the Final Four at AT&T Stadium this weekend. The upcoming College Football Playoff is paying attention, too.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the new playoff system, and many of the organization's staff members have spent the past few days looking at everything from the fan events in Dallas and Fort Worth to the traffic flow in anticipation of next year's national championship game at the stadium.

"We are delighted the Final Four is here," Hancock said. "Every big event makes a building better. The Super Bowl made this better for the Final Four. And the Final Four will make it better for us, and ours will make it better for the next one."

Hancock and his staff aren't interested in the court setup, of course. They know what the stadium looks like when football is played there. It's the home of the Dallas Cowboys, numerous college football games and the Cotton Bowl, which is now in the rotation with the Sugar, Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A bowls for hosting the national semifinals.

"Our focus is backstage and how things are setup," Hancock said. "That includes the interview rooms, media workroom, the way the building is laid out and used. And outside, what's going on with the tailgate area, parking and traffic flow."

Populous, an architectural firm, handled logistics for the Final Four, and Hancock says the company will do the same for the college football playoffs.

Populous came in and recommended how the space is used, like a storage area for the pep bands and the location of the media work room.

Hancock and his team are taking notes, expecting even bigger crowds and media for its game, which is less than a year away.

"The anticipation of the event is different, even from the BCS Championship Game," said Hancock, who was director of the Final Four for 13 years. "It's the first time a team has played more than one postseason football game and that's a seismic change in our world."

Hancock says his vision for next year's title-game weekend is a "celebration of college football the likes of which has never happened." With that in mind, he's also checking out the music festival the Final Four committee is putting on in Dallas and other events in the city and in Fort Worth and surrounding areas.

"We intend to create things for fans to enjoy," Hancock said. "We want the athletes to enjoy it, the fans with tickets to enjoy it, but also fans to be able to participate in the weekend even if they don't have a ticket."