Mr. Fiskers thinks Bill Hancock has some explaining to do

Bill Hancock has been chosen as the protector of the BCS, which pretty much guarantees he will have to say some outlandish things. But so many outlandish things all at once? And in a speech that someone actually transcribed and put on the Internet? He's practically asking for the Mr. Fiskers treatment.

Let it be written, let it be so. Welcome back, Mr. Fiskers. Bill Hancock has something I think you should see.

Fisking is a point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors, or disputes the analysis in a statement, article, or essay. Mr. Fiskers is OBNUG's fisking cat. He has hyperthyroidism.

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Hours before kickoff of the BCS national championship game, Bill Hancock delivered a speech to the Football Writers Association, talking mostly about the BCS and mostly in circles. Propaganda ruled the day as Hancock blasted BCS critics, swooned over the thought of Kansas State players seeing the Pop Tarts restaurant in Times Square, and name-dropped everyone but the Pope - because Bill Hancock is a Unitarian. Unitarians have the best body of work.

The official BCS website transcribed the speech, I showed it to Mr. Fiskers, and the rest is history.

Take it away, Hancocketeer.

The state of the BCS? It is healthy and strong. The first year of a new cycle is always an exciting time as we begin a relationship with a new television rights holder and with the bowls. And we look forward to the next three years under this agreement.

And by "we," he means Jim Delany.

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In the past few weeks, I have received dozens of calls and e-mails from folks who have said, "Congratulations and the BCS got it right again."

Mr. Fiskers happened to be present for several of those calls and emails. Who were these people, Mr. Fiskers?

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I find it hard to believe that people are really saying "the BCS got it right again." Perhaps Bill Hancock is remembering it wrong and his friends were actually saing, "Congratulations and the BCS got it right again just like it did that one time in 2002." That would be more accurate.

Here's what the BCS era has done in terms of equality and "getting it right" from year-to-year:

  • 1998: Tennessee (12-0), Florida State (11-1), Kansas State (11-1), Ohio State (10-1), UCLA (10-1), Arizona (11-1), Wisconsin (10-1), Tulane (11-0)
  • 1999: Florida State (11-0), Virginia Tech (11-0), Marshall (12-0)
  • 2000: Oklahoma (12-0), Florida State (11-1), Miami (10-1), Washington (10-1), Virginia Tech (10-1), Oregon State (10-1)
  • 2001: Miami (12-0), Nebraska (11-1), Oregon (10-1), Illinois (10-1), Maryland (10-1)
  • 2002: Miami (12-0), Ohio State (13-0)
  • 2003: Oklahoma (12-1), LSU (12-1), USC (11-1)
  • 2004: USC (12-0), Oklahoma (12-0), Auburn (12-0), Utah (11-0), Boise State (11-0)
  • 2005: USC (12-0), Texas (12-0)
  • 2006: Ohio State (12-0), Florida (12-1), Michigan (11-1), Louisville (11-1), Wisconsin (11-1), Boise State (12-0)
  • 2007: Ohio State (11-1), LSU (11-2), Virginia Tech (11-2), Oklahoma (11-2), Georgia (10-2), Missouri (11-2), USC (10-2), Kansas (11-1), West Virginia (10-2), Hawaii (12-0), Arizona State (10-2)
  • 2008: Oklahoma (12-1), Florida (12-1), Texas (11-1), Alabama (12-1), USC (11-1), Texas Tech (11-1), Penn State (11-1), Utah (12-0), Boise State (12-0)
  • 2009: Alabama (13-0), Texas (13-0), Cincinnati (12-0), TCU (12-0), Boise State (13-0)
  • 2010: Auburn (13-0), Oregon (12-0), TCU (12-0)

Of course, they are calling because tonight's matchup is the one that folks want to see.

Except the folks in Fort Worth.

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But for me, "the BCS got it right" has a different meaning.

That meaning: Hancock gettin' paid!

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The BCS got it right because University of Tulsa student-athletes, from my part of the country, were able to visit the USS Arizona memorial and museum.

Wait ... what?

Mr. Fiskers, what does the BCS have to do with the Hawaii Bowl?

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That's what I thought. The BCS has absolutely zero to do with the Hawaii Bowl. If Hancock is saying that the BCS allows the Hawaii Bowl to exist, then he fails to understand how a playoff works. Bowls will still exist when a playoff system is in place. A playoff only takes 16 teams out of the equation, and of those 16 teams, none are ever going to be Hawaii or runner-up CUSA schools.

And another thing, that cross-country field trip to the USS Arizona memorial is probably costing Tulsa hundreds of thousands of dollars, most of which they will not be making back. If the BCS "got it right" by ensuring that small schools will take a bath every holiday season, then job well done, Mr. Hancock. And sorry your women's volleyball team can't have skorts, Tulsa.

It was the first trip to Hawaii for many. For some, it will be the only time -- only because of a bowl game.

Mr. Fiskers has never been to Hawaii. Oh if only he had played for Akron and was eligible during the BCS era!

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And, the BCS got it right because Kansas State students were able to visit New York City. Many for the first time and some probably for the only time.

By this logic, the BCS also got it right when Maryland played in the Humanitarian Bowl and got to see the Cheese Factory in Nampa. Do you want to know how much that trip cost the University of Maryland? Nearly one million dollars, offset by a $750,000 participation payout. But free Idaho Spud bars, so there's that.

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Maybe some of us take trips to Times Square for granted, and Yankee Stadium for granted, and we are wrong to do that. The BCS got it right because those students had the experience of a lifetime -- only because of a bowl game.

Kansas State University lost a billion dollars by playing in the Pinstripe Bowl. Continue.

Other athletes toured civil rights museums, greeted soldiers returning from war, and visited hospitals to visit with sick children.

What makes the BCS so great? Middle Tennessee State players get to see George Washington Carver's first peanut, returning Iraq War veterans get to walk through a handshake line of Syracuse players, and bed-ridden kids get to see out-of-town players they've never heard of. If only we could keep this system forever. What's that? We can? Oh happy day!

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And it seems that some of us have forgotten what it was like to be 19 years old.

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And to have someone older and wiser quietly and discreetly create an experience for us and then step back and watch us enjoy it. That's what the keepers of the game have done by preserving the bowl system.

First off, that sounds really creepy. "OK, I'm just going to leave you here with the World's Largest Ball of Yarn and I'll be watching from the bushes."

Secondly, the BCS is not the only system capable of preserving the bowl system.

Third, how does one get to be a keeper of the game? It has something to do with the Harris Poll, doesn't it?

The university presidents and conference commissioners will not lose sight of the fact that college football is not professional football.

Yeah, no joke.

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This game is played by students. And it has cherished traditions that cannot simply be tossed aside.

Like the Heisman Trophy presented by Nissan!

And the Western Athletic Conference!

And Friday night games!

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I knew the BCS got it right when I saw the happiness on the faces of celebrating athletes from schools like Florida International and Syracuse and Washington and San Diego State after their bowl victories.

But what about the losers of those games - athletes from Toledo, Kansas State, Nebraska, and Navy? Is their disappointment proof that the BCS got it right? For goodness's sake, Bill Hancock. Those Navy athletes could have been on the USS Arizona. Have you no respect for the troops? You must have never played in a Hawaii Bowl.

And did you see those TCU players dancing and hugging and dashing around the field? Winning their bowl game was way more than simply a great way to end a season -- it was a moment that will be etched into their hearts forever.

You know what else would have been etched into their hearts forever? That's right, Mr. Fiskers. A shot at a true national championship.

Of course, we know that some people want something different. I appreciate their feelings. But I have to believe that most of those people don't realize they would snatch those opportunities away from the students. But please don't kid yourselves --it would happen.

Name a sport with a multi-team playoff that also has a second vibrant neutral-site post-season event.

College basketball. The NIT.

Even though a few bowls probably would survive in a playoff era ...

So wait ... bowls would continue in a playoff? But hasn't that been the entire point of the speech so far - that bowls wouldn't continue?

Mr. Fiskers, put down that Bob Omb! Bill Hancock is sorry for wasting the last 15 minutes of your life! Truly!

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... certainly the athletes in the playoff would not have a bowl experience.

True. They would have a playoff experience, which would be ten times better than a bowl experience.

A great part of college tradition would die, and that would be a shame.

The teams would fly in for their games and they'd fly out afterward. For the 7 or 15 schools that lose, their season would be over. No celebration. No bowl-week memories.

Shamu peed on me!

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And I certainly understand the lure of filling out a bracket, kicking up your feet with a bag of Tostitos and a jar of queso and enjoying the excitement of a four-week playoff from your sofa at home.

But is that in the best interest of the students, whose voices too frequently get lost in this debate?

10 bucks says Bill Hancock has never spoken with a student.

Listen to Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, on his bowl experience: "We had a blast. If they got rid of the BCS and the BCS bowls, then a lot of teams would not be able to have opportunities like we have had the last couple of years."

Um, Alabama won the national championship last year. Correct me if I'm wrong, Mr. Fiskers, but I'm pretty sure teams would still be able to have that opportunity with a playoff.

And listen to Oregon State coach Mike Riley: ...

Not a player.

... "I like the opportunity for a lot of teams to have a successful season and to get a chance to go to a bowl game. We don't need to limit that to whatever the playoff deal is."

Bill Hancock just said above that bowls will still exist with a playoff. So no worries, Mike Riley.

And what about the many avid fans who love going to bowl games? Many plan their family vacations around their school's trip to a bowl. Would they go to Miami one week, then to Pasadena, then to Phoenix?

Yes. That's what makes them avid fans. You think these guys wouldn't fly around the country for their team?

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I talked to a Fort Worth man who proudly told me that his grandfather played for SMU in the 1936 Rose Bowl. Can you imagine someone 60 years from now, telling a stranger that his granddad played in the 2025 first-round game between Troy and Wisconsin in Madison?

No, but Mr. Fiskers and I can imagine a player 60 years from now saying that he played in the 2025 NCAA Football Playoffs with a chance for a true national championship. Do you think college basketball players would say they played in the 2025 first-round game between Pepperdine and Michigan State? No, they would say they played in the Big Dance.

In a playoff, there would be no week in the sun.

There would be the potential for four weeks. Pack that suntan lotion, Mr. Fiskers! SPF 50 for me.

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As the people responsible for life on campus, it's the job of university presidents and commissioners to look out for the best interest of the student-athletes -- and that means preserving the regular season and protecting America's bowl tradition and experience.

I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the childish invective from a few undertakers ...

Undertakers?

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Oh wait. I think he means you, Mr. Fiskers. Well, you and Dan Wetzel.

... who throw stones but are accountable in no way for the future of the game and for the athletes' experience. But you know that words like cartel, commies, corruption and criminal when used to describe the BCS event are just plain silly. At its heart, the BCS is a group of schools collaboratively doing what is in the best interest of their students. And for the game.

And for money. Jim Delany gettin' paid!

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And, for goodness sake, what kind of corrupt cartel would create an arrangement where TCU can win the Rose Bowl? The Horned Frogs played in the Granddaddy of Them All solely BECAUSE of the BCS. And Boise State was THIS close to playing in tonight's game. The BCS is fair, and this year -- more than ever -- proves it.

No, Mr. Fiskers, put down that Harry Potter wand! He didn't mean it!

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OK, Bill Hancock, a couple of things.

First, the BCS allowed TCU into the Rose Bowl because of pressure from Congress. If that weren't the case, then non-BCS teams would have access a long time ago. 

Second, how is the BCS fair when it shuts out an undefeated team - like it did to TCU this season? How is it fair when an unranked team like UCONN makes a BCS bowl game?

And how is it fair for a Boise State football team to spend a decade chasing national respect in order to start the season in the Top Five (and that only because of the rarity of having 20 of 22 starters returning), get jumped by other undefeated teams, and lose out on a BCS bid and BCS money because of a three-point overtime loss when all that a team from a BCS conference has to do is play a soft nonconference schedule and run through their conference undefeated in any given year?

I have enjoyed keeping our side of the debate respectful, in keeping with the dignity of higher education. And I will continue to do that. After the unthinkable event in Tucson, I pray that we all re-assess our attitude toward each other.

Mr. Fiskers, how are you doing in Bill Hancock fallacy Bingo?

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Well, mark off red herring. The shootings in Tucson have nothing to do with the BCS.

I understand that short memories have applied a coat of white-out to the happiness that greeted the BCS when it was first implemented 14 years ago. Nearly everyone wrote the same thing: At last, the BCS brought college football what it had long been missing: a guaranteed match-up of the top two teams in a bowl game.

Ah, 1998. A simpler time when people would say just about anything to get good teams to play each other, when gas was $1.50 per gallon, when skinny jeans were for women, when Andy Staples was five years old and Yahoo.com looked like this:

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In other words, we've come a long ways since 1998.

Please remember the great benefits of the BCS.

You know the numbers, but it is important to place them on the table once again: the top two teams met in bowl games eight times in 58 years before the BCS. Since then? 13 of 13 by BCS standards ...

Is that a real stat? That's like saying Leonardo DiCaprio has appeared in 13 of 13 movies starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Like Titanic.

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... and 10 of 13 by the media poll, including the last seven years in a row. Those facts are impossible to ignore.

Also, this fact:

In the BCS era, only twice has there been a clear-cut No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup where no teams could make a case for being left out.

And please hear this: the BCS has sparked the rise of new competitors who have stormed into the upper level of college football over the past few years. Boise State, TCU, Hawaii, Central Florida, Oklahoma State, Connecticut, Oregon, Nevada, Cincinnati, Texas Tech, Louisville, Stanford and Wake Forest are just a few.

I think Mr. Fiskers speaks for everyone when he says, "Wake Forest?!" Really? You mean, like, that one year?

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The BCS sure is getting credit for a lot of things. Mr. Fiskers, what else has the BCS sparked?

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The rise of Justin Bieber.

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The rise of pajama jeans.

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The rise of Five Hour Energy.

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And the rise of the Tea Party.

Wow, the BCS has been busy.

This horde of new schools at the top table has been good for the game. There is a new populism never before imagined. A new equity that could not have been envisioned just 10 years ago. New hope that previously was inconceivable. New national fervor for a game that some believed had reached its zenith, but whose potential now seems unlimited -- a tree growing to the sky.

How has the BCS done this?

It is very simple: by providing unprecedented access to the top-tier bowl games, by maintaining the focus on the regular season, and by enhancing the entire bowl system that provides a foothold for programs on their way up.

In other words: by not being an exclusive monopoly (which is illegal), by using the regular season to determine postseason positioning (which is obvious), and by keeping alive an archaic bowl system that cripples athletic department budgets for the sake of performance bonuses (which is stupid). Mr. Fiskers, give Bill Hancock a Nobel Prize!

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Bill Snyder at Kansas State ...

Again, not a player.

... talked about how he used the incentive of playing in a bowl game to almost literally bring the Wildcats up from "worst" to "first," ...

And do you think that the pitch of "come to our school and you can play for a national championship every year in the NCAA Football Playoffs" wouldn't be a hit? I would hope that pitch has more draw than "you might get to play in the Pinstripe Bowl and see the set of 30 Rock."

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... and said it very well: "Where the bowl system helped Kansas State go tells me if they had 100 bowls, they would probably be of value to a lot of programs throughout the country."

Except that in this scenario, everyone would be in a bowl and it would be moot. Also, 40 bowls would be empty since there are only 120 D1A teams.

Mr. Fiskers! Get out of Bill Snyder's wildest dreams this instant.

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In conclusion, I want to ask you to remember that college football really is a national treasure. We are very lucky to cover it, administer it, play it, coach it and play b-flat clarinet in its marching band.

Band geek!

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I don't think there's anything else in the world to match the passion that we have in college football. Maybe World Cup, but maybe not.

Maybe the world's most popular sporting event ever ... maybe not.

I had the great pleasure of visiting with former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the Fiesta Bowl. He was overwhelmed by the pageantry and the passion.

Wait, this year's Fiesta Bowl?

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A few years ago the top man at Wimbledon attended the Orange Bowl. I think neither one of them had ever seen anything quite like it.

Tonight's atmosphere will be awesome. I suggest that you visit the field for just a minute before the national anthem to take in the whole scene.

You know how Bill Hancock knows the BCS got it right? Football writers get to soak in the atmosphere of a meaningful game. You go, BCS.

And then, in the wild party after the game, one group of athletes will hold the crystal football aloft. They will be celebrating for the sheer joy of reaching a lifetime goal.

And TCU will be watching at home.

But without even realizing it, they will be rejoicing for those other 68 groups of students who were able to savor the bowl experience this year. When they lift that crystal football, they will be symbolically lifting up the collegiate model. They will be celebrating the game of college football that is thriving in no small part because the BCS got it right.

And with that, Bill Hancock lifted his crystal chalice filled with the souls of Sun Belt athletes and proclaimed, "Nah, I'm just kidding. The BCS totally lucked into this year's championship matchup. Also, I hate Temple."

Hancock's speech, while well-worded and smooth, is a perfect example of the shoddy facade that the BCS shows to the public. When things are going right, the BCS will take credit. When things are going wrong, the BCS will find a scapegoat. To use the sanctity of bowl season to prop up a championship system that can't even decide a clear champion is nonsensical. Only those who fail to think through the past decade would buy into that.

Down with the BCS, hooray for Mr. Fiskers, and let's hope for eight more months without having to listen to Bill Hancock.

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