Wednesday November 18th, 2009

Hopefully, Bill Hancock negotiated a huge salary. Because he just took one of the worst jobs in the world.

Hancock was named the executive director of the Bowl Championship Series this week, which makes him the permanent mouthpiece of the system and relieves conference commissioners of the duty of defending a format in which some of them don't believe. Hancock, who started out in the Big 8 and was the first director of the Final Four, seems like a great guy. He's friendly, quick on his feet and more earnest than a Leave it to Beaver marathon. He probably doesn't deserve all the abuse that will be heaped upon him in this role. Unfortunately, after listening to Hancock's interview with SI's Dan Patrick on Wednesday, it's pretty clear Hancock's job is only slightly easier than the following vocations:

• Ringling Brothers elephant cage cleaner

Jon Gosselin's publicist

• Tobacco company in-house counsel

• The guy who collects, um, genetic material from bulls for artificial insemination

We know this. Hancock loves the bowls. He adores the idea that every year, hundreds of student-athletes get a free trip to Boise, Atlanta, El Paso, Toronto or some other exotic locale, and half of them get to go home winners! Yay! After hearing Hancock discuss the cherished memories bowl games produce -- he actually mentioned a Virginia Tech player injuring his ankle while riding a jet ski -- I can't wait until 20 years from now when I can call former players and hear delightful stories about that legendary EagleBank Bowl they played in 2010.

Hancock kept coming back to the fact that, with bowl games, a lot of teams get to finish the season as winners. He probably also loves participant trophies and hates dodgeball.

Hancock has to come off this way because he's being paid a lot of money to defend an indefensible system. Hancock knows the bowls won't go away if college football's top division institutes a playoff. People will watch whatever college football game is on, which is why we have so many 6-6 teams playing in late December in cities no one wants to visit. He is paid to protect the current system. More importantly, he's paid to do it so conference commissioners don't have to.

Earlier this year, ACC commissioner and sitting BCS coordinator John Swofford had to defend the BCS to Congress. There's only one problem with that. Swofford -- or at least the ACC constituents he represents -- doesn't believe the BCS is the best system. Otherwise, why would Swofford have teamed with SEC commissioner Mike Slive to present a plus-one model at a BCS meeting in 2008? Needless to say, Swofford didn't exactly sound credible defending the system he had just tried to radically alter. Now, the college presidents and bowl cronies who love the BCS can make sure they have a true believer speaking for them.

As Dan Patrick peppered him with questions, Hancock tried every way he could to defend his bogus system. "Wait till you get a playoff," he said. "It'll be even more contentious."

To justify this, Hancock explained that the NCAA men's basketball tourney field generates controversy every year. To which Patrick quickly pointed out that the No. 66 team or the No. 35 at-large team really has no claim on the national title. The same can't be said in college football, where we're heading for a finish that could leave as many as three undefeated teams (Boise State, Cincinnati, TCU) with no opportunity to play for a national title.

Hancock said Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly is a "great friend" when Patrick asked what Hancock would say to the Bearcats if they went undefeated and had no opportunity to play for the national title. So what would Hancock tell his great friend? "I would say to Cincinnati the same thing I always said to coaches who were left out of the [basketball] tournament," he said. "You had a great season."

If there's any poetic justice left in the world, Kelly will look Hancock square in the eye, shake his hand and say this: "Bill, you've got a great system."

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