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Talking AQ Evaluation With BCS Executive Director, Bill Hancock

Everyone knows that the Mountain West is looking to become a BCS conference.  They tried lobbying for it last summer, but was rejected.  The only way that they can guarantee automatic qualification BCS status would be to gain it through the "BCS Evaluation Period."

The given criteria for evaluating BCS Conferences is very vague.  According to the BCS website, the following is how they determine AQ status:

The evaluation data includes the following for each conference
(1)  The ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings each year
(2)  The final regular-season rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year and
(3)  The number of teams in the top 25 of the final BCS standings each year.

Obviously the given information is very vague.  Fortunately the new BCS Executive Director, Bill Hancock was kind enough to answer a few of my questions regarding the process of determining automatic qualifier status.


Note: This was an e-mail and not exactly an interview.  Bill Hancock gave me permission to quote him on his answers.


If a conference is to expand and add a team during the evaluation period, would the conference be able to use that teams statistics in their evaluation, even if the team gained some of their "points" in another conference?


This is big news for Boise State fans.  The Mountain West Conference will very likely need to expand and add a team like Boise State since it is a top-heavy conference, with little competition aside from TCU, Utah and BYU.  This explains the reason that the MWC has not invited anyone in yet.  This is a strategic move, which would allow that team to gain points without beating up on MWC teams.  If the MWC does expand they will need to invite a team before July 1, 2010 to use that team in their evaluation data.


There are three rules listed for determining AQ status. Is each rule given an equal weight? If not, which categories are "worth more?"

All are the same weight.

This is good news for the Mountain West.  Two of the three criteria the MWC is very strong in.  The amount of teams in the final Top-25 and ranking of the highest team are things that the Mountain West is very competitive in.  The MWC struggles in the ranking of the entire conference in the computers since it is a top heavy conference.  It is definitely a plus that that category will not out-weigh the rest.


Does the number of teams in each conference affect how the statistics are calculated for certain criteria such as, number of teams in Top 25?

No, the data is averaged so that the number of teams in the conference does not affect the rankings.

Another positive for the conference.  The Mountain West in 2008 and 2009 finished with three ranked teams in the final BCS standings.  The Mountain West is a smaller conference with only nine teams.  Having three teams ranked for the Mountain West would be greater in the evaluations than three teams from a larger conference like the Big-12.


Does a current non-Automatic Qualifier conference have to "beat out" a single BCS conference four of the four years of the evaluation period? Or, does that conference just have to finish ranked ahead of a certain conference in the final statistics?

Basically a conference must finish in the top half of each category.


Does this mean that a current non-AQ conference must finish ranked at least third in each of the three evaluation criteria? They must finish ahead of at least three current BCS conferences in each of the three categories?

Actually, no, it wouldn't have to finish at least third. Basically it would have to finish in the top 50 percent in each of the three categories.


This is a confusing topic to me.  I'm guessing that they would have to finish in the top 50 percent among the 11 conferences in averaged data at the end of the evaluation.  It sounds like the Mountain West would have to finish at least fifth in each category.  This is a problem for the "final regular-season rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year" criteria.  They may need to expand to finish at least fifth in this category.  In the other two categories the MWC seems to be among the top 50 percent.  


If a non Automatic Qualifying conference gains Automatic Qualifier status, would the BCS expand to 7 conferences, or would that conference replace a current BCS conference?

There would be seven automatic-qualifying conferences.

This is what everyone expected, but I just wanted to clarify it.  This is good news for current BCS conference.  If the Mountain West becomes a BCS Conference, no one will get replaced.


A big thanks to Bill Hancock for taking the time answering my questions.  He is very involved in the public and seems to be the guy that the BCS is using to boost their public relations.

Follow Michael Rueckert on Twitter @MichaelRueckert