Hancock named BCS executive director

NEW YORK -- Defending the Bowl Championship Series and trying to convince critics that it is the best way to determine a college football champion has to qualify as one of the toughest jobs in America.

Bill Hancock now has that job.

Hancock, the former director of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, was selected Tuesday to become the first executive director of the BCS.

He has been the BCS administrator since 2005, often acting as a spokesman for the conference commissioners, university presidents and bowl organizers who run college football's controversial postseason system.

Hancock will still be working for those decision-makers, but starting next year he will be the public face of the BCS and the top advocate for their choices.

"My feeling is that I can help people understand it," he said in a telephone interview. "A lot of the frustration with the BCS is because people don't understand it.

"They think there is this hypothetical playoff which would just be a panacea. The fact is a playoff would be as contentious or more contentious than what we have now. A playoff is just not right for college football," he said.

The executive director position will replace the BCS coordinator. The coordinator position has rotated on a two-year basis between conference commissioners since the Bowl Championship Series was implemented in 1998.

Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford is the current BCS coordinator and the only person to hold the job twice. He first held it in 2000-01.

"With the growth of the BCS over the past seven years, the demands that go along with the coordinator's role increased dramatically," Swofford said.

"There's quite a difference now from the very beginning because of the interest level, the growth of college football and the controversies that go along with it. The coordinator's role was outdated," he said.

Swofford's latest two-year term ends Jan. 7, the day of the BCS championship game.

The plan to hire an executive director has been in the works for about six months, Swofford said. He said Hancock became the obvious choice.

"Bill is very well connected, not necessarily high-profile. Very experienced. Knows the BCS inside out. Understands it. Can articulate it to others," Swofford said. "He appreciates the fact the presidents, the conferences, the commissioners and the bowls are ultimately the decison-makers. He works effectively with the internal group as well as externally with the media and others."

In 1989, Hancock became the first director of the basketball tournament, a job he held for 13 years.

He begins his new job with the BCS facing political pressure from lawmakers to change the system and threats of antitrust lawsuits.

"We are going to respectfully explain why this is the best system for college football," Hancock said. "We are confident that this arrangement complies with the law."

Hancock said over the years he has received almost 1,000 playoff proposals and ideas from college football fans, supporters and members of the media.

"All those kind of things and the detail in those, it shows what passion there is for college football," he said. "I completely understand where they are coming from. If you compare [the BCS] to the NFL or an NCAA tournament bracket, it's frustrating.

"But if you look at it through the prism of preserving the bowl system, fitting the academic calendar, you'll come to the position that this is the best way to do it," he said.