Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010 | 2:15 a.m.
When Bill Hancock took on what has quickly become one of the most scrutinized jobs in sports, friends didn't hold back from giving honest advice.
"I did have some friends who said, 'Bill, you shouldn't do that,'" the executive director of the Bowl Championship Series said. "But I thought it was absolutely something I wanted to do and somewhere where I thought I could make a difference."
Making a difference means trying to make everyone happy. Realistically, that will probably never happen, but it doesn't mean he's going to stop trying anytime soon.
Hancock, who is based in the Kansas City suburbs, was in town on Wednesday to take part in the annual fall kickoff luncheon for the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas, which will be played at Sam Boyd Stadium on Dec. 22.
The event was held in large part to get some buzz going for the game and to give ticket sales an early kick. Before the lunch portion of the event took place at Texas de Brazil in Town Square, some of the key figures on hand took the podium inside the crowded restaurant.
The undertone was consistent — the bowl system in place is right, and a playoff system to determine the Football Bowl Subdivision national champion every year is wrong.
"There's nothing good about them for players or coaches," said UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, who in his years as an assistant at Colorado and Washington, then as a head coach at Football Championship Series power Montana, has experienced both worlds. "Frankly, I don't like (playoffs)."
He was followed by former Washington quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Brock Huard. Though his college days wrapped up when the BCS was merely in its infant stages, he shared stories of how much he enjoyed the experience of playing in bowl games at the end of each of his four seasons with the Huskies.
Hancock, however, was the guy who the media most wanted to hear from. Before sitting down for his meal, he took the podium and shared a few words, then was peppered with questions afterward as the crowd filtered out.
The topic du jour, of course, was what many preaching for further equality in the current BCS structure have been talking about for two weeks now — Boise State.
The Broncos, who have capped off a pair of undefeated seasons in recent years with wins in BCS games as at-large qualifiers, became the talk of the college football world on Sept. 6, when they went on the road and knocked off then-No. 10 Virginia Tech in Washington, D.C., in a 33-30, down-to-the-wire thriller.
The game helped No. 3 Boise State maintain its spot in the national polls, earned the program a handful of first-place votes and proved yet again that the "little program that could" can hang with the game's so-called "big boys."
However, there's already concern that even if Boise State rolls through the rest of its schedule unscathed, including a jaunt through what's considered to be a not-so-tough Western Athletic Conference field, that the Broncos would not get a fair shake in an effort to play in the BCS title game. Instead, there's already worry that if two teams from bigger conferences have one-loss records against a stronger slate of competition, that the Broncos could get passed up.
"I understand that, because it's sports, and all fans want what's best for their team," said Hancock, who previously served as the executive director of the NCAA men's basketball Final Four. "Fans are not charged with the responsibility of seeing the big picture. And I get that. And it happened in basketball. The e-mails and hate phone calls we got from teams that were left out (of the NCAA tourney) would blow your mind. It's the same in this. I completely get that.
"What I don't get, and what ticks me off, is when people say (the BCS system is) rigged. It is not rigged. It's impossible to rig. If Boise State is No. 1 or No. 2, they're going to be in that game."
Hancock was then asked if he thought the current system gave Boise State fair access to the prestigious championship tilt, and he responded quickly with a simple "yes."
The whole argument could become moot should Boise State fall just once this season, as they still have 10 regular season games to play.
The next order involving the Broncos, though, will be the potential inclusion of the Mountain West Conference as a BCS automatic qualifier in two years, when the the possibility of AQ expansion from six leagues to seven is again open for discussion with the board of directors. That panel includes Hancock, 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick.
Boise State will be joining the Mountain West next year, while fellow WAC defectors Nevada-Reno and Fresno State will come on board in either 2011 or 2012. It makes up for the league losing Utah (Pac-10) and BYU (independent in football, WCC in all other sports) this summer, but will it be enough to push the MWC into the AQ arena?
"You know, the numbers will say whether it is or not," he said, referencing the formula which flat-out determines whether a conference is an AQ. "They have good teams, they have well-coached teams. But it's all in the numbers."