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BCS Makes Money, But Does It Make Sense?


This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

As the regular college football season winds down, four teams boast undefeated records: Oregon, Auburn, TCU and Boise State. Only two, though, can go the national championship game. So the debate starts anew.

Is it time to dump the BCS and institute a playoff? And the old argument takes on a new edge. At a time when many colleges and universities face cutbacks, playoffs could generate tremendous profits. The commission claims its system is fine just the way it is. Every regular season game becomes important: You lose, you're out. And it preserves the bowl games.

Later in the program, an argument to restart relations with North Korea. But first, is it time for a playoff in Division 1A College Football? Our phone number, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. Thats at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us from his home in Portland. And Tom, always nice to have you with us.

TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, Neal, how are you?

CONAN: I'm well. And we have to begin by pointing out the regular season ain't over yet.

GOLDMAN: It ain't over yet. That is true. And we are heading toward a big Friday, some are calling it Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when you've got three of those schools that you mentioned Oregon, Auburn, Boise State all in action. TCU, which is currently third in the BCS rankings, plays on Saturday.

But Friday could be a really big day because Auburn has a very tough matchup against Alabama in the Southeastern conference. Oregon plays Arizona. And Boise State has a tough game against help me now?

CONAN: Nevada, I think.

GOLDMAN: Nevada, number 19, Nevada. So depending on what happens there, what happens with those games could go a long way toward letting us know who is going to be in that big, mythical one-versus-two game in Glendale, Arizona.

CONAN: And remind us: The BCS was itself started as an answer to this conundrum.

GOLDMAN: It was started as an answer to a conundrum, but of course, you find something to answer a conundrum and in some people's minds, it creates another conundrum.

It began in 1998, and it was a way to showcase, by BCS standards, Bowl Championship Series standards, the top two schools each year. Now, it has worked, if you, you know, listen to what the BCS people say, because the last 12 years, you have had the one and two teams by BCS measurements - and of course some people, many people question whether those measurements are the way to go - you've had those teams meet for the national championship games.

And so, you know, as you'll find out later talking to Bill Hancock from the BCS that this is the way to go. As you mentioned, it's you know, it pits the top two teams against the others. You have four other BCS bowl games that theoretically pit the top teams against each other. And as you also mentioned, it creates great interest and excitement in the regular season because, as I mentioned with Friday coming up, you know, you have this situation where you lose and you're out of the running, certainly with four undefeated teams right now up at the top.

So it puts that much more there's that much more impact of a regular season game. And BCS proponents say that you would lose that if you went to a playoff.

CONAN: Yet there's going to be tremendous let's say that Alabama beats Auburn, which is I guess, at least in terms of most prognosticators, the most likely of the possible upsets. Of course anything can happen but if it does, you're going to have a lot of people arguing that then one-loss Alabama should be considered to be one of the top two teams in the country, as opposed to Boise State or TCU, who play a much easier schedule.

GOLDMAN: Well, certainly, and the Southeastern Conference is considered if not the top, one of the top power conferences in the country. And there will be those arguments. But the defenders of TCU and Boise State will say: Sorry, you know, we're still undefeated. We've run the table and one of us, at least, deserves to be in there.

CONAN: And this is they are not from BCS conferences. There are some conferences that automatically qualify.

GOLDMAN: Right. The teams from the top, from the six BCS conferences, the major conferences, including the PAC 10, Southeastern Conference, Big 12, two or three others, six of those conferences are automatic qualifiers. And Boise State and TCU, being from the Western Athletic Conference and the Mountain West Conference, respectively, those are non-automatic qualifiers.

And only one of those can only one of those teams from those conferences, the non-automatic qualifiers, can get an automatic bid. So that's why, as we look at these top four teams, actually the fight between Boise State and TCU is such a big one at this point because the team that ends up third will get that automatic bid, probably, and the other one, even though they may have an undefeated record, they would have to go in as an at-large team because only one team from those non-automatic qualifiers can get into a BCS bowl game. Are you following this, Neal?

CONAN: I am following this. But on the other hand, I've been indoctrinated for many years. So I think I've figured it out.

GOLDMAN: So that's why the fight between TCU and Boise State and they are separated now by .0135 points according to the computers, is so key because, you know, Boise State can leapfrog TCU and get to three. That would mean Boise State would get an automatic bid to a BCS bowl, not necessarily the national championship bowl. TCU, being number four then, could get left out.

CONAN: Yeah, they could go to the Muffler Bowl somewhere.

GOLDMAN: Meineke car care or whatever.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Let's see if we can get some callers in on the conversation, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Is it time for a playoff? Toby's(ph) on the line, calling from Huntington in West Virginia.

TOBY (Caller): I think the bowl system now should be scrapped, but the bowl venues should be retained as playoff locations. The other divisions Division 2, Division 3 do college playoffs in football, and that manages very well.

It would be difficult for teams to travel long distances, but they have to do that for the mythical national championship game anyways. People like to watch them on TV. So I think it is time for a true championship playoff, and that's what I would vote for.

CONAN: And how many teams would you put in, Toby?

TOBY: I would put in 32.


TOBY: I think beyond well, you could do a 64. You could do 128. What is there, 139 teams? They could all get a playoff, kind of like NBA basketball.

CONAN: It would take a long time. You can't play twice a week in football. Anyway, thats very interesting. But Tom Goldman, clearly the BCS, as it stands now, one of the things in its favor is that it does fit it did fit across the template of the old bowl games, the Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl and games like that, so that they could be the BCS games and the championship game, I guess, what, rotates among four of the big bowls every year.

GOLDMAN: Right, yeah. And I think Toby raises an interesting point, though, is that, you know, playoff proponents say look, you can still keep your bowl games. And I'm not sure how the formula's going to work. But you can keep the bowl games, and we will kind of fold those into a playoff system. But you will have a playoff system, and you won't have the questions that you have. You will have it proved on the field rather than through two polls and six computer rankings, which currently make up the BCS process.

CONAN: Well, Tom Goldman, thanks very much, and we appreciate your time. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joined us from his home in Portland, Oregon, where he's completely neutral in all of this and has no feeling toward the Oregon Ducks whatsoever.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Tom, always nice to have you on the program today.

GOLDMAN: It's a pleasure, Neal.

CONAN: As he mentioned, we're going to hear later in the program from Bill Hancock, who is executive director of the Bowl Championship Series. But joining us now from member station WDET in Detroit is Dan Wetzel, a writer for Yahoo Sports and author of "Death To The BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series." Nice to have you with us today.

Mr. DAN WETZEL (Co-author, "Death To The BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series"): Thanks for (technical difficulties).

CONAN: And clearly from the title of your book, not a fan of the BCS. Why is a playoff superior?

Mr. WETZEL: Yeah, (technical difficulties) three books. So don't give away our (technical difficulties) there at the end. They've got to keep (technical difficulties).

You know, it's quite simple. You want to (technical difficulties). Every form of competition has a better system than (technical difficulties). What we have is a...

CONAN: Excuse me, Dan, we're having some technical problems with the situation with your line. You're cutting in and out. Tom, are you still there?

GOLDMAN: Still here, Neal.

CONAN: Okay, we're going to get the line fixed up so Dan, we can...

GOLDMAN: We'll get Dan on the phone.

CONAN: We'll get Dan on the phone, or somehow we'll get a better system. But in the meantime, you're still there. And I guess the you know, some of the scenario problems that you have with the BCS system is somebody's always going to feel excluded. And, of course, if you have a 16-game playoff, team playoff, number 17, 18 and 19 are going to feel like they got jobbed. But it's another thing to say: Wait, I was number three. How come I don't get a shot at it?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, it is, and yes, someone will always complain. But you'll have fewer people complaining, I suppose, if you go to a playoff system. That's what proponents say, because, you know, giving 12 or however many teams an even shot, you know, will end a lot of these arguments.

CONAN: And the situation also that does come into it, would it be accurate to say and I think we're going to hear Dan Wetzel claim this that everybody says a playoff system would generate a lot more money than the system as it exists today.

GOLDMAN: Well, yeah, and I will let Dan take that one. But he, interesting, in his recent article that he co-wrote with Austin Murphy(ph) for Sports Illustrated, and he probably repeats this in the book, which I haven't read yet, I apologize. But he said that Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany, he quoted him in this article speaking to Congress in 2005 and Delaney is apparently a playoff proponent - and I'm quoting here: An NFL-style football playoff would generate three or four times more than the current system does.

And according to Dan and Austin Murphy, that could mean an estimated 700 million to 800 million annually to be distributed among the 1A conferences. That's a whopping bit of money. And so, you know, one of the big points that Dan Wetzel has been making is that, yes, the current BCS system, according to BCS proponents, is lucrative for certain entities and people, but they're leaving a lot of money on the table, Dan Wetzel will tell you.

CONAN: And we'll hopefully, he'll be able to tell us that when we come back from a short break. We'll have this worked out. And Tom Goldman, in appreciation for your willingness to step in for a few additional minutes, we will say: Go Ducks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman, with us from his home in Portland. When we come back, again we'll have Dan Wetzel, co-wrote an article for Sports Illustration called "Does It Matter" and co-author of "Death To The BCS: The Definitive Case against the Bowl Championship Series. We'll also have Bill Hancock on, who's executive director of the Bowl Championship Series and more of your calls.

Is it time for a playoff? 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan, TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

We're talking about: Is it time for a playoff series in Division 1 College Football? Dan Wetzel is our guest. He wrote in the November 15th of Sports Illustrated: Big-time college football is a world-class beauty with a wart on her forehead. That blemish is the sport's method for determining a national champion.

The NCAA crowns 88 champions in 23 sports. The only champion it does not crown is in Division 1A Football, which in its wisdom has delegated the task of determining which two teams will contend for its title to a series of mathematically unsound computer formulas and often confused and ill-informed poll voters.

He's against it. 800-989-8255. Email talk@npr.org. Is it time for a playoff series? You can also go join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And Dan, I think we have you on the phone now.

Mr. WETZEL: I am back, yes.

CONAN: And you were trying to say before, the best way, clearly, to answer this is to settle this matter on the field.

Mr. WETZEL: Yeah, absolutely. You know, when you interview players and talk to them and poll them, they want to settle it on the field. They want a playoff. You talk to coaches, they want something better than this. They want to have some form of a playoff.

The BCS is better than the old system, but it's out of date. It's arbitrary. It's illogical. You have poll voters that often don't pay attention and vote with biases and very confused poll voting through the years, we show in the book. You have mathematical you have computers that quantitative analysts are boycotting because they say they're not mathematically sound. They don't actually adhere to math or science. They are simply PR tools to try to create the illusion of an unbiased part of the system.

It's confusing to the fans, who want it, who simply they both want the opportunity for their teams to play in meaningful games, compete for the title, and just the excitement that a playoff generates, the way the NFL or NBA playoffs do every year.

And as we show, the TV ratings for the regular season would improve. The interest in the regular season would improve. It's a win-win all over, before you ever start counting the money. And realizing that what the reason this is being blocked is because a small group of private businessmen and outside interests, mostly the bowl directors, have been able to entrench their way and create a system where college football outsources its most profitable product.

They're making a great deal of money on it, and they want to block any kind of change forward that the players, the coaches or the fans are looking for.

CONAN: Didn't they aren't they, at least in some large measure, responsible for popularizing this game for the last 70 years?

Mr. WETZEL: Well, I think maybe some of the bowl games did, but I'm not so sure that the Roadies Truckstop Humanitarian Bowl has had a whole lot to do with that.

But the simple fact is the people that run the NFL playoffs or the NFL, the people that run college football's post-season are not the colleges. And when you're allowing a third party to come in on your most profitable product and cut 50, 60 percent of the revenue right away, stick schools with incredible travel expenses, ticket guarantees and different things, it just does no longer make sense.

College football, college athletics and colleges in general can't really afford what's really a bad business deal, what conference commissioners admit are bad business deals.

You have student fees to the tune of $800 million in Division 1A, trying to balance college athletics. Only 14 schools turned a profit on college sports last year, teams getting cut at major universities like Cal Berkeley, you know, $9 million in student fees at the University of Virginia for athletics, so much money that's going off to a small group of people that are kind of blocking this thing.

And make no mistake, that's why it's being blocked. This is all about money. College football is a huge business, and people are trying to protect their role in this business.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get Cameron(ph) on the line, Cameron with us from Tallahassee.

CAMERON (Caller): Yes, hey. How are you doing, gentlemen? I don't believe they need to go to the playoff system yet. I think what they could start is by extending the season by maybe one or two games and then getting every team that's in the BCS division into a conference, and then every conference having a two division where you play a championship like the FCC and the ACCIDENT and so on, Big 12. That way, you can eliminate the (unintelligible) in the rank. If they can't win their conference championship, then they're eliminated out of the national championship running.

But also, you can...

CONAN: Why don't we give Dan Wetzel a chance to respond to that. There I think the only team left out of a conference now is Notre Dame, but Cameron's point, if you get bigger conferences, and they have conference playoffs, isn't that in effect the same thing?

Mr. WETZEL: Yeah, it's kind of the same thing. I mean, I think what -you know, this is the thing. I mean, whether you go to, I think the guy earlier said, 32 teams, or 16 or 12 or eight, all of these plans are better than what we have.

What he's basically arguing is almost the same thing as anyone else is arguing. It's settle it on the field. You know, enough with the computers. Enough with the polls. Stop with the mythical championships.

This is very easy for them to sit down and design a workable playoff that would improve the regular season, increase revenue to colleges and universities, regain control - have the NCA regain control of college football and cut out the people that are you know, and allow the bowl games can operate on their own. They have no inalienable right to block progress and take the majority of the profits, of the revenue, of college football.

There's - no other business would ever do this. No other sport would ever adhere to this.

CONAN: Here's an email we have from Larry(ph) in Wichita, who says: No, colleges and universities are supposed to be institutions of higher education. Players already miss too much school.

Mr. WETZEL: That ship sailed a long time ago. The last thing they care about is academics. But you can play you play football on Saturdays for the most part. They don't miss a lot of school. And you can conduct an entire playoff during Christmas break. It wouldn't infringe on academics at any point.

His overall point is well taken. However, that's a whole other show, on whether they should even have these kind of levels or whether players should get paid and things like this. But in this term, a playoff would have no impact on the academics. Even, you know, Jim Delany of the Big 10 will admit that. The conference commissioners and presidents will admit: Yeah, you're right. It doesn't have any effect on academics.

CONAN: Dan Wetzel, thanks very much for your time today. We apologize for the technical difficulties earlier, but...

Mr. WETZEL: Thanks for having me on.

CONAN: Dan Wetzel writes for Yahoo Sports, and he's co-author of "Death To The BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series." His article, "Does it Matter," runs in the November 15th edition of Sports Illustrated. You can find a link to that at our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION. Our thanks, as well, to WDET in Detroit.

With us now by phone from Prairie Village, Kansas, is Bill Hancock, executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, and it's good to have you with us today.

Mr. BILL HANCOCK (Executive Director, Bowl Championship Series): Hey, Neal. It's great to be on. I love NPR, and it really is an honor to be on the air with you.

CONAN: Well, thanks very much. It's kind of you to say. Is it time to stop a system that enriches only a few people and institute a playoff system that would enrich the colleges and the universities?

Mr. HANCOCK: No, it's not time for that yet, Neal. We have the greatest regular season in sports, and to change that would just be a crime. We need to keep what we have.

CONAN: Here's an email from Andrew(ph), who I think summarizes a lot of people's points: BCS serves the BCS and the sponsors of the bowl games only, not the tradition of the sport. High school football and the pros both have playoffs. Why not D1 College? A playoff is better for the players, the game and the fans.

Mr. HANCOCK: You know, we get those arguments. I love talking to people about this. But again, preserve this regular season and also preserve the bowl system that is a reward for the athletes at the end of the season.

They get a five- or six-day experience in a different culture, and if you went to a playoff, we'd have one-day business trips. And which do you think would be better for the students, five or six days or a one-night business trip?

CONAN: Well, you could make those as different as you'd be interested in, particularly if you imposed the playoff system on the current bowl structure, played them at the same ballparks.

Mr. HANCOCK: The bowl system would be changed if it became a playoff. The emphasis would go more away from that five or six days in a different culture to the actual game itself. And I don't know whether neutral and even Dan, my friend Dan Wetzel, doesn't advocate playing the playoff at the bowl sites. And I don't know whether an Alabama-Pittsburgh game in Pasadena would draw a whole lot of fans.

CONAN: The playoff systems in professional sports do well. The playoff systems in other divisions of college football seem to do pretty well.

Mr. HANCOCK: They do pretty well. What they don't have is a bowl system. And college football grew up with a bowl system. The other divisions of the NCAA, they do have playoffs, but I've talked to several coaches who have coached in those games that say: Whatever you do, don't go the route of the playoff because our athletes didn't like it. These are people who coached in Division 1AA and 2 and 3. Our athletes didn't like it. Our fans didn't like it. We didn't even draw particularly well with home.

So those playoffs are not really the panacea that some people make them out to be.

CONAN: Would you accept the argument that Dan and others make that a bowl system, a playoff system rather, would generate significantly more money, and that money at a time when so many colleges and universities are facing cutbacks is - would be very welcome.

Mr. HANCOCK: No one knows for sure about, although I do think Dan's right. I think there would be some more money from a playoff. But some money would go from the regular season into a playoff, which would just go from one bucket to the other.

But it's interesting that Dan and the other authors are so fixated on the money, and what we are, we're fixated on what's best for the student athletes.

CONAN: Well, money would be good the student athletes if the school did not have to cut out French or if they had lacrosse available, too, as well as football.

Mr. HANCOCK: I don't know that schools are making those draconian cuts as result of what's happening in football. And, you know, also, football drives so much of the revenue for the university as it is now. And is it right to do - to change the system to hurt the student athletes? I think that's the central question.

CONAN: Let's see if we get some callers in on the conversation. Jim is with us, calling from Tuscaloosa.

JIM (Caller): I'm an Auburn man in Tuscaloosa with a degree from the University of Alabama System. But - and here in this state, we had last years BSC champion, Alabama, and last years Heisman Trophy winner. This year, Auburn's a contender for the national championship and the number one Heisman Trophy candidate, so we know football here.

And one thing I know, it is all about money, money and money. And then you got to try and get a bunch of university presidents to agree on a solution. And that's why I think the BCS has been unsatisfactory. It's still viewed by a lot of the fans as an unfair system. Under the old bowl system, sometimes an inferior team might get selected to a major bowl because they brought more money, brought more - a larger fan base, (technical difficulty).

CONAN: They travel well, as they use to say. Yes.

JIM: Yeah. And what I'm seeing now is - to me, it's unfair to even have (unintelligible) I don't think there's any way, almost no way Boise State will be permitted to play in this championship game because a team like Alabama or Auburn probably sells more licensed team merchandise in a weekend than Boise State does in three weeks or a month. And...

CONAN: Well, Bill Hancock, I know you can't see into the future. But if they're ranked one or two at the end of this season, would Boise State or TCU be invited to the championship game?

Mr. HANCOCK: Oh, my goodness, absolutely, without a doubt. And that's certainly within the realm of possibility. As Tom Goldman said before, there's a lot more ball to be played, but without a doubt.

CONAN: Here's an email from Bob in Waterford, Michigan. The answer is so simple to implement a college playoff system - the structure is already there - you don't need to violate the sacred bowls. Just make the BSC bowls on New Year's Day as the first round. Play two more weeks and you have a true national championship from the top eight teams. Have the championship game to kick off Super Bowl week maybe in the same site. Bingo. BCS bowls still exist. The other bowls can go onto a post-season honor, no less meaningful than they are today.

Mr. HANCOCK: We hear that a lot. And the commissioners actually talked about that three years ago in great detail. But they came down to the fact that, you know what, it would be so difficult to select the four teams or however many the caller wants...

CONAN: Mm-hmm. I think he's calling for eight. Yeah. But...

Mr. HANCOCK: You'd be trading one set of problems for an equal set of problems. Number three, as you mentioned before, Neal, at number three, would be - is unhappy now, but number - team number nine is going to be unhappy then. But that received a lot of discussion, and who knows, it may again someday.

CONAN: Well, in the basketball playoff, team number 66 feels slighted, which may not have had a real opportunity to win the championship. But nevertheless, yeah, there's always going to be controversy over any system that limits people.

We're talking about the idea of instituting playoffs in Division 1-A football. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's go next to Keenan(ph), Keenan with us from East Lansing.

KEENAN (Caller): Hi, how's it going?

CONAN: Go ahead.

KEENAN: I just wanted to say that I think the change that we could make right now is to make the regular season actually harder. Right now, we, you know, most teams have four non-conference games. And my Michigan State Spartans, we played Northern Colorado this year, and - just to get an automatic win.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

KEENAN: So I think what we need to do is theres about two-thirds of the teams that are in BCS automatic AQ conferences, one-third not. Every team should play the team, their non-conference rival, and then two games against automatic qualifying BCS schools and then one team not. And so then it would kind of level the playing field so that everyone would have at least a somewhat equal non-conference schedule. And so you can look at those games more when deciding to go bowl games.

CONAN: Keenan, there's a lot of financial consideration involved in all of that, and that's one of the things. Scheduling those non-conference games is one of - well, Bill Hancock, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that a very careful financial decision often?

Mr. HANCOCK: It is, Neal. Playing games at home is important to some institutions - to many institutions. But the caller has a good point about scheduling. And I would just say that it's - every institution schedules differently. Some have young teams, they want to play a little softer schedule. Some are stronger, they're willing to go anywhere to play. You get all kinds of answers about that. And one thing I think we're seeing from the callers today that I just love is the passion...

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. HANCOCK: ...for the game and the knowledge of people have and how much they love it.

CONAN: Thanks, Keenan. Let's see if we can go next to - this is Rick, and Rick's with us from San Francisco.

RICK (Caller): Neal, thanks. Longtime listener, first-time caller.

CONAN: Well, thanks for that.

RICK: I can't think of anything that is more wrong with football in college than the BCS. The only thing that would be more wrong with it is playoff. I think just the point of college football, what it should be about. And I think it really appeals towards the lowest common denominator of casual fan who needs to be, in the most unsophisticated fashion possible, spoon fed the idea of a champion.

You know, every game is a championship game throughout the season. And you know, the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game is the champion of that game. And the goal of those teams should be to get to that traditional bowl venue, and, you know, of course, in the case of the Big 10 or the Pac 10, it's the Rose Bowl.

Putting a playoff together, to me, would just cheapen college football to a point where the regular season and any bowl games that were left in the smoldering aftermath of a playoff system would be unwatchable to everybody but the, you know, the most die-hard fan.

The biggest problem right now, I think, there are, what, 40 ballgames practically? That means 80 out of a 120 division 1-A teams or FBS teams go to bowl games. Cut the number of bowl games in half, I think that's the solution.

CONAN: All right. Thanks very much for the call, Rick. Appreciate it. And Bill Hancock, I think you would agree with much of what he said, though perhaps not the first part.

Here's an email from Marvin in Wichita. I'm going to tell it like it is. College football as it stands now is a farce, not a sport at all. It's a moneymaking, delusion-making collusion of corruption. There's no sport where two teams trade scores without a playoff. There's no sport where something is decided by biased voters or biased-driven algorithms. Team get better sometimes by losing a game or two. And during the '80s and '90s, Florida State often was playing for better than the - far better than the teams voted to play in the phony championship. We'll never have college football champion in what we call reality without a playoff. And - well...


CONAN: ...give you the last 30 seconds to reply.

Mr. HANCOCK: We saw the alpha to the omega with those last two calls, didn't we?

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. HANCOCK: The fact is what we have is a civilized system. It's not biased. It's fair. Everybody benefits from it in terms of finances and also access. And it's voluntary. Every conference can opt out if it doesn't like what we're doing. But to this point, they've all opted in.

CONAN: Bill Hancock, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

Mr. HANCOCK: Thank you, Neal. It's been good fun.

CONAN: And I'm sure it'll be a controversy-free next few weeks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HANCOCK: We can't wait.

CONAN: Bill Hancock, executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, with us from Prairie Village in Kansas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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