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Creating Trust

Bill Hancock: The Playoff Pioneer – Joel Goldberg Media

Trust / January 26, 2024

Creating trust is essential to success. In my own experiences as a sports broadcaster and keynote speaker, I have experienced firsthand what creating trust can do for relationships.

What never ceases to amaze me, though, is just how universally powerful it is. As I look forward to the newness and sense of beginnings that only a January can bring, I also realize the ways that creating trust has shown up in my life. Some were expected, others not so much.

On the unexpected side of the coin are some business changes that will be rolled out soon. I’m not divulging too much just yet, other than to say that they were hiding in plain sight all along.

More expected were some of the insights shared by a recent guest on my podcast, Rounding the Bases. I don’t mean to suggest anything he said could have been anticipated. But gauging by his success – from experiences to lessons – I anticipated an incredible interview…and it was.

He is one of the most influential people in all of college sports, so of course he had some great stories up his sleeve. But as I got to thinking about it, what I realized is that every one of them goes back to creating trust.

Considered a virtuoso by many, Bill Hancock’s phenomenally successful career has taken him to the highest echelons of intercollegiate athletics. There, he has been a top decision in championship competition for the last thirty years. He’s also the first – and only – Executive Director the College Football Playoffs has ever known.

This distinctive title is just one of many indelible marks left by a man who is rarely the center of the story, but often deserves to be. As he looks forward to his upcoming retirement, he leaves behind a legacy that began by creating trust…but that will love on in sports that are beloved around the world.

SINGLE: Capturing Attention, Creating Trust

Bill began his storied career as the assistant Sports Information Director for the Oklahoma Sooners. At the time, he looked forward to one day taking over the family newspaper in his hometown of Holbert, Oklahoma. He assumed the role with pride after his fathers passing. But it was short lived.

His journalistic integrity, work ethic and knack for creating trust had already captured the attention of some bigger organizations. And it wasn’t long before they came knocking.

He joined the Big Eight in 1978 and began taking on volunteer roles as valuable career opportunities. He recalled, “My first Final Four was in 1979, which was the great Magic-Bird Final Four in Salt Lake City.”

As an operations guy, he had a boots on the ground presence in the arenas themselves. He loved getting to work in so many different cities, but it also gave him a unique perspective on what it took to pull of an event of that caliber.

“There was no operations manual,” he told me. “I was lucky enough to be able to go to my boss and say, hey we need an operations manual. And he said okay, write it. And so we did.”

Bill is exactly the kind of guy who would chalk such a thing up to luck. But if you ask me, luck has nothing to do with it. Not just anyone is cut out to write the book on the biggest college basketball event in the world.

A responsibility of that magnitude has to be earned through demonstrated ability to produce, and by creating trust with decision makers.

“I got to teach the people how to run the tournament and then I got to watch them go out and be successful,” he said of the experience. “There was nothing better.”

This year, Bill will once again travel to the Final Four. His arrival in Phoenix will mark his 45th consecutive year attending the event…and nearly five decades since he wrote its playbook.

DOUBLE: An Unbelievable Experience

Creating trust is an incredible skill. It has the power to open doors and send ripples in all directions.

This year will be a milestone one for Bill as he transitions into a well-deserved retirement. But even now, he continues to see and feel the effects of great work done nearly half a century ago. Namely in Paris, where he will travel for his 16th Olympic Games.

Bill got his start on the US Olympic Committee the same way he did with the Final Four: as a volunteer. It was the 1984 Los Angeles games, a record medal year for Team USA.

When he returned home, he remembered thinking to himself, “Oh I’ll never get to do this again, but I got to do it once.” It’s a memory that perfectly illustrates the gracious humility that has endeared Bill to so many. But it also belies his innate skill at connecting and creating trust…despite barriers.

“My favorite Olympics have been the ones on different soil where they don’t speak our language,” he told me, noting Sochi in particular. He is determined to learn from the athletes privileged to compete, even without a shared vocabulary. Where are they from? How do they live at home? Trust makes these stories possible. It’s on small piece of what makes the Game an incredible place to be.

“The most remarkable thing a bout the Olympics is all those young people from all over the world, just coming together to compete and have a good time,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable experience.”

TRIPLE: Falling Into Place

Bill was never much of an athlete himself, surprising for someone who has been so influential on sports around the world.

“I didn’t have the ability to play,” Bill shared. “I also learned there was a thing called marching band…and it had girls.” So he played his instrument during the game, then went home to write about the game.

I can appreciate how this non-athlete got his break into sports journalism. It’s not too unlike how I got into the field myself. “It’s funny how you just kind of fall into your career,” he said. Since 1978, it’s been one that has taken him across the country and around the globe, but always moving up.

HOME RUN: Integrity and Trust

Arguably the most defining position of Bill’s career was his appointment as the inaugural Executive Director of the College Football Playoffs. He creating something out of nothing, just like at the Final Four. Except this time, he wasn’t a volunteer looking to gain some experience. He was responsible for the success of the entire organization.

You will encounter a few bumps in any profession if you’re in it long enough. In the media industry, the best you can do is address what deserves to be and move on. My interview with Bill would not have been complete without getting his perspective on the controversy that erupted in response to Florida State University’s exclusion from the 2023 College Football Playoffs, despite its undefeated season.

“You know, I’ve been a part of that for a long, long time,” Hancock said. “I just now finished my 19th year in college football. What you learn is there will always be a team five … but you deal with it with honesty.” He continued, “The way you counter it is through integrity, knowing that the decision was pure and correct, and that some people are going to be upset about it.”

It was such a simple response, spoken with a genuine candor I won’t soon forget. He went on, “The worst thing you can do is try to make everybody happy … so you just be there, be honest and know that eventually your integrity will carry through.”

I know enough about Bill Hancock that I shouldn’t have expected anything different. We talked for nearly an hour about high-profile sporting events, travels around the world and the excitement that awaits him in retirement. But at the end of it all, this was the exchange that stood out to me as the defining moment of it all. The true encapsulation of a person and professional who changed sports as we know them by creating trust.

Listen to the full interview here or tune in to Rounding the Bases every Tuesday, available wherever you get your podcasts.

Learn More About Creating Trust from Joel 

Book Joel Goldberg for your next corporate event. He draws on over 25 years of experience as a sports broadcaster. In addition, he brings unique perspectives and lessons learned from some of the world’s most successful organizations. Whatever your profession, Joel is the keynote speaker who can help your team achieve a championship state of mind.


Full Transcript:

Joel Goldberg 0:18
Hey everybody, welcome into another episode of Rounding the Bases presented by Community America Credit Union: Investing In You. I’m Joel Goldberg. Shout out to my friends at Chief of Staff Kansas City. If you’re in the market for a job, looking to hire someone in Kansas City or out, check them out chiefofstaffkc.com. Making connections that matter. I’ve got a great connection today on this show, and very timely as well. We oftentimes record these weeks out, but I’m actually recording this on Martin Luther King Day, and releasing the day after because a lot has been going on with my guest who is certainly been in the spotlight and really excited to tell the story today. So on Rounding the Bases, I’m joined by one of the most influential people in all of college sports. He wouldn’t say that he’s very humble, but I’ll say it. He’s a virtuoso who’s phenomenally successful career has taken him to the highest echelons of intercollegiate athletics, where he has been a top decision maker in championship competition for the last 30 years. Bill Hancock is the first and only Executive Director of the college football playoffs that we have ever known. It’s just one of many indelible marks left by a man who was rarely the center of the story, but often deserves to be and the beginning of a legacy that will live on in sports and around the world. I’d say he’s retired but he’s not. And I’ll say he’s gonna retire, but I don’t think that he ever will. I’m joined right now by still the the executive director, although outgoing, but I don’t know if you’re ever outgoing Bill Hancock, fresh off of a phenomenal college football championship. It was really riveting. All of it. Bill, how are you?

Bill Hancock 1:58
I’m great, Joel, good to see you. And I will tell the listeners, Joel Goldberg is one of the good pros in our business.

Joel Goldberg 2:07
Wow.

Bill Hancock 2:08
He’s honorable, he works hard. There’s none better than Joel Goldberg.

Joel Goldberg 2:12
Well, I appreciate that. And then I know you’re sincerely a lot of people in our business blow smoke, and you’re not you’re not one of them. And I hope I’m not either. That means a lot to me, for this reason. And maybe I’ll get into this later, our families do you have a very unique connection now. And I’m sure that some of those family members are listening, we’ll tease it out for later, as we often do in this business, but you’re not you and I really never knew each other before this family connection, yet. We knew of each other. And I followed your work and you being a Royals fan followed mine, I just the compliment that you gave me and I want to turn this back on you really means a lot because I, I’ve worked with the Bill Hancock’s of the world, throughout my whole career, we just never worked together. But you know, like, you know, when someone is a good guy or not like I know that without knowing you and vice versa. It’s fun to watch someone from a distance because we know how it works. Right? Like, I did work in college sports for a while I did cover a lot of college football and basketball and you get to know the SADs and the administrators and all that type of stuff. So I appreciate that. But that’s kind of the beauty of this business, right? The people that you collect along the way.

Bill Hancock 3:21
Yeah, that’s it, Joel, you nailed it. The people are the best part. And when you and I got talking, when we first met about all the mutual friends, we’ve built up over the years, it was kind of amazing, even though the two of us had never, never met until what? I guess what, five years ago?

Joel Goldberg 3:37
Yeah.

Bill Hancock 3:38
But it’s all about the people. And there are some people in our business that you go, Oh, man, I got to deal with so and so today. There’s a few of those, but mostly, you don’t get to your position, or I guess mine either without being a person who cares about other people.

Joel Goldberg 3:55
Yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, I was thinking a lot about this as I was preparing for this interview, and to be part of the challenge of preparing the interview you is that we could do five hours, and it wouldn’t be enough. And that’s just the beauty of, of your experiences. And mine. I mean, you could write more books for the rest of your life and, and not cover all the that’s just the travel with, you know, you and your wife, Nikki, I mean, on and on all these different things. So sports, it becomes so much more than sports, you mentioned that people but I was thinking about this, and the right way to ask it because in your role, and other things that you’ve done over the years, NCAA basketball, tournament selection committees, all that you can never make everybody happy. And that’s interesting to me because you are a guy that is universally beloved. You might say that’s not true. But you know, you’ve you don’t make enemies and you have figured out how to connect and that’s not an easy thing to do, when you’re gonna have to let somebody down and I sit there and I think, think about what was perceived as controversy with the college football playoff selection this year in Florida State. And in the end, as a football fan, I have no unless Wisconsin’s in it, and I’ve got my drinking coffee out of my Wisconsin mug right now, and they were not good enough to be in it this year. I don’t care. I just want, I want to, I want to be entertained, I want the best possible competition and you guys got that. But along the way, you’re gonna upset people, it’s just part of the job. I’m curious how you have been able to maintain the reputation you have as a good guy and someone that truly cares about this, while knowing that along the way, people are going to be poking at you.

Bill Hancock 5:39
You know, I’ve been a part of that, for a long, long time. That dating back to my NCAA days, I was 16 years as director that men’s final four, and just now finished my 19th year as in college football, what you learn is there will always be a team five, there will always be when I started with the NCAA, they’ll always be a team 65. And the way you counter that is through integrity, knowing that the decision was pure and correct, and that some people are going to be upset about it. Team Five, team 65 will always be there. Every every NCAA sport has a committee that manages in advance and chooses the teams. And they all go through the very same thing. I talked to an athletic director this fall who was extremely disappointed because his team did not make it into the volleyball championship women’s volleyball championship, I get that. But you just you deal with it with honesty and not hiding and just saying this is the reason and a lot of times people have been on sports committees. And one of the people who was upset about the Florida State situation had been on the NCAA Men’s Basketball committee. So he knew he knows they know what it’s like in that room when you’re trying to do the right thing. And the worst thing you can do is try to make everybody happy and that doesn’t work. You just have to know that people are going to be disappointed and you know how you would feel how you how you would feel if it was the Badgers and I went Oklahoma I guess I don’t know how I would feel if it was Oklahoma. So you just be there be honest and and know that eventually your your integrity will carry through.

Joel Goldberg 7:25
Yeah, and I should back up at least a little bit to like as much as you love your Sooners and I love my Badgers we both also been in the business long enough me not in your shoes, but me long enough. I mean, about 30 years to just understand it’s not….it’s less entertainment for us now. And it’s more work. And as much as I would love to go back and be the fan that I was growing up, you just see it with a different lens. So for me, I just, I want good games, I just want to be entertained. You know, I, I want good storylines. That’s where I’m selfish. And I think that, you know, that’s what you ultimately wanted, right? Storylines will happen, but you want the best possible games out there to entertain. We’re in the entertainment industry. And you got that ultimately.

Bill Hancock 8:08
Yeah, we did. And to the storyline matter, I remember you telling me during the pandemic, or how hard that was for you because you didn’t have access to the players. And I thought Joel is a storyteller. And he really, he really, you get most of your storytelling through what you’ve learned from the players. And when you didn’t have that access. That was really tough. I know that I don’t quite have the same access to the players that you do. But man, when I do get to know student athletes, I think, golly, this is a remarkable young man. And I wish everybody out there could get to know this person and see him in the way that I do. So you have the same kind of rare inner…way more insight…interaction. But I wish fans could know the players in the way that you do. And that I’ve gotten to,

Joel Goldberg 8:55
Well, I mean, it still gets back to what you said. It’s a people business. Every, every business is, this one just happens to be a little bit a little bit different than the average job. I’m amazed at what those college athletes can do, especially on the big stage of football or basketball, the demands they’re under. And you know, and the world has changed so much before we came on. We were talking about streaming and all that. That’s a whole nother podcast episode. But I mean, my point is is that from the time a young Bill Hancock was growing up and coming up in Hubbard, Oklahoma to now what a totally different world, but of course it is. The world is supposed to be different all these years later. I got into television 30 years ago knocking on doors and people say now well, you could have sent a YouTube link and I’m like, Yeah, but it still wouldn’t have helped me stand out because everybody’s sending a YouTube link. There were no podcasts on and on. I didn’t even know that a pregame and postgame show host would be a possibility because there were no Pre and Post game show hosts except for maybe, you know, the biggest of college football games there was no you know, you know big sets and traveling shows and, and on and on and on. What do you think about where we’re at right now? Because I think it’s so easy. If you’ve been around a long time, like me, or like you, to scoff at the way, the way things have gone. And certainly in college sports, it is a totally different world and you got in. But isn’t that sort of the way the world works?

Bill Hancock 10:21
That is absolutely the way the world works. And you can complain about it and say, I’m gonna resign because I don’t like this. But the fact is, there’s nothing more constant than change. And, man, I think about what you all do with your Royals broadcast and think about all the new fans that have that have come into baseball because of you. It’s remarkable. And I think the same thing for college football, that now that we have a playoff, we’re bringing new fans into the game. And that’s so cool.

Joel Goldberg 10:53
Or just, you know, get Taylor Swift to date somebody involved in whatever that entity is, now you got the whole world that’s jumping into Kansas City, and the Chiefs are doing pretty well in terms of that, even if it seems to upset some of the grumpy people along the way. But I think that’s been fun. Alright, that’s also a whole nother podcast, I want to go back to where this began. Because the picture that I get is a is a young, energetic, loves sports kid in Hubbard, Oklahoma, that that is dreaming of one day being maybe a sports writer or something along those lines. What what were the aspirations of a, of a teenager or a younger version of Bill Hancock?

Bill Hancock 11:37
Well, when I learned figured out I didn’t, I couldn’t play, I didn’t have the ability to play. I also learned that there was a thing called marching band, and had girls. So I went right over the marching band, I play clarinet, and then sax, and then I would, I would march in the band, and then I’d write the game story. And I thought I would be a sports writer, or a classical piano player, one of those two. And it’s funny how you just kind of fall into your career. With my three grandchildren, and I know you, you with your two children, you want the best thing for them. But then you look back and go, I, hey, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. When I was 21, 22 years old, you just fall into it. And it went from for me and went from sports writing to working in the SAD office at Oklahoma, which after a four year period in the newspaper business, led me to the Big Eight conference and took me to Kansas City. That was 1978. So we’ve been here a long time. And I’ve been lucky enough to stay in Prairie Village. And through several job changes, and kind of moving up the ladder every time. So we’ve been we’ve just been really lucky.

Joel Goldberg 12:54
I’m pretty lucky to have a good source here. And I could try to protect my source, but you’re gonna know right away that it’s your son, Nate, who is certainly a friend of mine. And so I was I was like, Well, I don’t even need more information about you. But let’s see. So he was he was telling me that, that the week that you were born, your brother was getting married, and your sister was being dropped off to go to school at OU, which means that that you grew up with essentially two adult siblings, right?

Bill Hancock 13:23
Yeah, that was true. My parents got pregnant, kind of accidentally, a year before I was born and they lost the baby. The doctor said you can try again. And much to the embarrassment, I think of my brother and sister, they did try again. And I proved to be the result of that. So my sister, my brother was 21. And my sister was 18. When I was born. My brother always said you make sure that everybody knows we had the same mother and daddy did not go get a trophy wife. But my parents were in their 40s. And I appeared. And I did have this wonderful brother and sister who provided me with great guidance. And really my love for sports came well from our dad. He was an athlete, but more and more so from my brother and sister who were huge sports fans and then great, great friends for me. They’re both deceased now. But I learned a lot from having really, really almost two sets of parents, my mom and dad and then my older brother and sister.

Joel Goldberg 14:24
Everybody in the family loves sports or no?

Bill Hancock 14:26
Everybody. Everybody. My dad was an athlete. And a musician. My brother was an athlete and my sister just loved love sports. My sister if she were had come up, if she were my age, she would be a pioneer athletic director. Woman athletic director, because she would have come along right at the right time. When people were looking for women administrators as it was she she was just a little ahead of that curve and she became a university administrator on the student side. But yeah, sports was was huge in our house.

Joel Goldberg 15:01
I mean, it’s amazing because everything you’re describing, you could be describing your grandkids. You know, I mean, it just when you talk about the love of sports, the love of music, entertainment. You know, I remember watching your, your grandson Will on stage at high school performances, that’s probably where I first met you. And he was the star of every show. And he’s at at Webster now in the conservatory there and, and then and then your other grandson Jack is following in similar footsteps while still, you know, writing and announcing games while…it like, it’s like the young version of Bill Hancock. Your granddaughter Andy the same way and, and her mom has been in sports forever. I mean, this is like a true family affair here. It’s got to be the coolest thing to be able to watch those next generations kind of finding their own way, but also having some similar passions.

Bill Hancock 15:55
Yeah, it is. And I think you expose them to that kind of thing or they get exposed to it. You don’t try just like you with Mason and Ellie. And I remember Will, he, Will did have a lead in his high school play. But there was always this real engaging, real cute young woman in the in the place. A girl I guess, who just kind of reached out and grabbed you in the chorus and that was the one your eyes went to. And that was Little Miss Eliana Goldberg.

Joel Goldberg 16:24
Well, I guess I should just out this right now that that my daughter Ellie has been has been dating Bill’s grandson Jack for almost three years. And I know you know, at that age, you don’t make too much of it and all that type of stuff. But I mean, she spends as much time around your family as she does ours, which is, which is a great thing. Because they’re interchangeable. So that’s where some of these connections come. I would have had Bill on one way or another. I’ve been scheming this in my head for a few years. And I thought, Okay, this is the perfect time, what’s going on. So, you know, I thought do I mention them or not? It’s not really necessary for this podcast, but they’ll like it because this will probably be the only podcast I’ve ever done that she’s listened to. So you’re welcome Ellie for the shout out and Jack as well. They’re, you know, they’re doing their own thing. Okay, so let’s, let’s get back to focusing here a little bit, I want to, I want to read off something that Nate sent me. This is nothing bad. But I know you like to push the attention on others. But this paints such a good picture. And I can relate to this. Anyone that’s been in the business that’s my age or older, can relate to this. I think the younger generation would say, Wait, what in the world is going on here? So Nate, Nate says to me, when I was a kid, you’ll know where this is going in a moment. Every Sunday during football season, we’d go to the Big Eight office, we drive downtown, pick them up mom, and mom would read them to us. He’s talking. He’s talking about all this stuff. Sorry. Let me back up. Big Eight. March Madness. No, this is just weekly. And he’s talking about all the stats and all the reports and all that type of stuff. He said dad would take all the Big Eight stats that came in overnight for the games a day before and typed them out on his typewriter for a 10 to 15 page release. Mom would make hundreds of copies and collect and collate them. Will would fold and staple them. That that’s your older son Will. And I’d stuffed them in the envelopes, Nate, into envelopes for overnight delivery to papers across the Midwest. We’d get there right after church and get home around eight or nine. It was every single Sunday to get those things out. Of course, now we have technology and it’s a different world. But that to me is that, that’s just generational. Right? That’s a passion and a love for that and a way to get the family involved, I guess too.

Yeah, he’s right. We would we would buy lunch or make sandwiches and take it up to the Big Eight office, which at the time was at 8th and Cherry, downtown KCMO. I don’t think anybody mails releases anymore. Well, I know they don’t. But we’ve put them in trays and our family would take them over to the Kansas City, Missouri to the dock of the KCMO post office and put these trays of mail on on the on the dock and they’d go out and if they were lucky, Topeka, Des Moines, Wichita would get their releases Monday. So that was that’s just what you did on Sundays, football and basketball season.

Right. I mean, now obviously, it’s it’s a lot easier, but you had to find a way and I would imagine some did that and some didn’t do that. But I’m also guessing that there was a, there was no journal and there was a thrill to be able to do that. A rhythm to it wasn’t there?

Bill Hancock 19:37
There was a little bit of a I am pitching to Shoeless Joe Jackson moment. I get to write the releases for Big Eight Conference football. I get to interview Tom Osbourne. Oh, my goodness. Yeah, there was a thrill, no doubt.

Joel Goldberg 19:56
So you’re doing all that how? How are you able to climb the ranks to get to where you were from the sad days to, you know, Final Four and NCAA basketball tournament to college football playoff. I mean, I still think a lot of that has to do with relationships, people obviously skill treating people the right way. But what was the evolution of that?

Bill Hancock 20:19
Well, I think it’s the same thing you learned that it is treating people the right way, and caring, frankly, more about others than you care about yourself. But I got a chance to leave the communications side and go into the administration side at the Big Eight office. In running Big Eight championships and running the talent and being the liaison with the television network. I learned a lot about TV from a guy named John Crowe. John was our producer, director of our weekly Big Eight broadcast and our talent was Jay Randolph and Gary Thompson, Fred White stepped in to do some games occasionally. But I learned so much from bouncing from Ames to Lincoln to Manhattan to Stillwater with the broadcast crew each week. That was priceless. And I guess I came to the attention of the people at the NCAA, who were looking for someone to manage the Final Four and they called me and said, Would you be interested, we’d like you to come out here and interview for this. And I thought, Oh, my goodness, what an opportunity. And so I landed there at the men’s Final Four primarily because the office was, you know, up at 63rd. And all at the time. So I got the job because I didn’t have to pay moving expenses. I think.

Joel Goldberg 21:38
I mean, it, it’s amazing to think back to it. Because the the Final Four, or March Madness, as we now call it, I don’t remember what we called it as a kid. But I mean, I remember it being even a big deal to get I remember, I’ll date myself here. But I remember being in high school. And this is when we had, you know, obviously we didn’t have cell phones, but we had we had the Walkman. And so I would be sitting in class on a Thursday or Friday in high school, have the first and second the first round of March Madness with the earpiece that was wired to the Walkman going through the sleeve of my shirt or holding the earpiece up to my ear. And if it got really good, and I really needed to do something, I would ask to go to the bathroom so I could find out. But because I want to tell everybody was asking, those early days of reporting. So so at that point, I know March Madness certainly caught my attention, but now where it’s at is a whole different world. And I know that you helped so much in terms of writing the manual for cities hosting it. That might not sound like anything, but that’s essentially like a Super Bowl too. How did that all come about? And could you have envisioned when you started in in it, that would turn into one of the great sporting events, certainly in this country, if not beyond?

Bill Hancock 23:05
You know, we all loved it. And when I was in the Big Eight office, we worked at the Final Four as kind of volunteers. And my first Final Four was 1979, which was the great Magic-Bird, Final Four in Salt Lake City. And actually, side note this year in Phoenix will be my 45th Final Four in a row. I don’t know if that’s a record, but it sure has been 45 really, really awesome experiences for me. I was I was a stadium guy, I was an operations guy. And there was no operations manual. And like you said, I was lucky enough to be able to go to my boss and say, Hey, we need a manual. And he said, Okay, write it. And so so we did. And I’ll tell you that I love the tournament. Still do, obviously but the greatest part of the tournament for me it was getting to work in those different cities. All around the country. from Milwaukee to Spokane to San Diego to Albuquerque and, and New Orleans and Birmingham and Greenville, South Carolina and all over Worcestermass. Man oh man, what an awesome experience that was all been I can just go through. I need to make a list of the stadiums that I’ve been to because of that tournament. But you learn, you learn. There’s great people everywhere. And in the tournament, there are people who, for whom being able to be involved in the tournament is a huge career opportunity. And plus, it’s just really, really fun. So I wrote the manual, I got to teach the people how to how to run the tournament and then I got to watch them go out and be successful. There was nothing better.

Joel Goldberg 24:43
I’m still not sure that there is a better overall sporting event than just the the three and a half weeks of March Madness. I just think it gives everybody a little something if not a lot of something we could argue that I love the NHL playoffs as a whole I love baseball plasmin, any of the playoffs are great football, all of that on the college football playoff right now, where you’ve been able to get it to and where it’s going. I can’t wait to see what it looks like, next year. Again, this is evolution. But there’s just something about March Madness and knowing that, you know, I remember as a kid, it’s like, alright, watch number 12 is going to be the number five because it’s got to be someone. And I remember when I worked in St. Louis, talking to a professor at St. Louis University, who would come up with some formula of how to best pick this. And it wasn’t, it was more just about like statistics at odds. And the best way to win your pool is by not picking the overall best seed. Because everybody’s doing I mean, there’s so many cool elements to it as well. And I’m curious your perspective on just the magnitude, not so much, how much it’s grown. But all the moving parts and the the emotions and you know, from the kids to the fans to one shining moment to this is just one massive production. But but it to me, it’s more than sports. I don’t know, if I’m explaining it the right way, somehow it captures something that maybe not all the other ones do.

Bill Hancock 26:13
It is lightning in a bottle. It’s the fact that within a half day’s drive of pretty much every place in America, there’s some team that has a chance to get into that tournament. It’s Hoosiers. It’s filling out your bracket that people weren’t filling out brackets when I started with the NCAA. And now they do it just has it has a reach. That is remarkable. And I don’t see anything damaging that. And gosh, now the NCAA is as extended that reach to the women’s tournament. baseball, softball, they’ve got something there and they know it, and then they cherish it and they take care of it.

Joel Goldberg 26:56
I think maybe the event will the two events that will be bigger on a much bigger stage one I think will be the World Cup. I mean, when we when we get out of just what the US is that that globally is at another level. And we’ll see that coming to Kansas City. Those of us that live here in a couple of years. And the other one, since, you know almost the beginning of time it feels like is the Olympics. And oh, by the way, if people are curious about it, whatever that number was and is climbing with with Final Fours that a Olympics number is pretty impressive. And climbing as well, when the Paris Olympics start to sock advertisements left and right on during the football game the other night for that will be what number of Olympics for you and your wife, Nikki,

Bill Hancock 27:41
that’ll be 16. For me, dating back to LA in 1984. And Olympics, whether it’s like dog years, I mean, 16 Olympics is a lot of the Olympics is and I got started with just being a volunteer for the US Olympic Committee in LA. And when I came home, I thought oh, I’ll never get to do this again. But I got to do it once. And it was so cool. And they’re still having us back. And the most remarkable thing about the Olympics is all those young people from all over the world, just coming together to compete and have a good time. The athletes all know each other, they probably just competed four months ago, and some other event. But there’s something about the Olympic stage, per capita, the most hugs in the world are exchanged at the Olympics. It’s It’s an unbelievable experience. I like to go where they don’t speak our language. And so you kind of get to work it out. Sochi was that way, man, figure it out, make it happen. Paris will be a little different. I speak a little French. And there’s a lot of English spoken over there. But my favorite Olympics is our have been the ones on different soil where they don’t speak our language.

Joel Goldberg 28:55
And so you basically started and still to this day, you’re essentially volunteering. What? In the press room and the media room and notes and working with the media and all that type of stuff. Almost, I would think almost bring you back to your roots.

Bill Hancock 29:09
Yeah, it is almost back to my roots. And one thing good thing for us is I don’t I’m not in charge. I mean, I have my little area and I take care of that. But unlike my day job in college football I’m not in charge. I love that.

Joel Goldberg 29:24
So I got my first real sort of glimpse at a little bit of what I was talking before about you and Nikki and the boys running through the stats and writing up the reports and all that. This is still who you are even if you’re volunteering and not in charge is that you were I don’t know if it was the last Olympics or before you’re sending out these these daily emails and and because of the family connection now I was on those daily emails. And it was it was spectacular. Because I felt like, number one, you’re a great storyteller. That that’s originally what you were getting into this for anyway, right? I mean, wanting to be a journalist telling these stories. And so I felt like, as you’re writing these daily emails to family and friends, that I was being included, you know, that I that I was there in the middle of it. And so what Nate was telling me that he said, back in the PanAm games in Cuba, that you would send faxes to the Big Eight office, and then they would drive downtown to pick them up, and your mom would read them, to Will and Nate so that they can get updates. Obviously, this is way earlier than where we’re at in terms of emails and FaceTime, and all that type of stuff. But, but it to me, it feels like what you do now with the Olympics, and it is a thorough write up every day of the really interesting people you’ve met, down to the breakfast that you’re eating, and the customs and all that, that your storytelling again, and I’m curious if that still feels the same as when you’re firing off those faxes?

Bill Hancock 31:03
It does in many ways. And well, it’s this is what you do. And what I did as a storyteller is at the Olympics, there are a million stories. I mean, everybody has a story, every athlete, every every journalist, every volunteer, and man, it’s just like swimming in a whole vat of chocolate, just to absorb all these stories. And too many stories, not enough time, but I I try to find time to meet and counter as many people as I can, and learn about and learn about where they came from and learn about what why are they here at the Olympics? How’s their living experience going? Does the plumbing work in their apartment? Oh, all those kinds of things.

Joel Goldberg 31:44
Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s so cool. Because like, I can’t imagine a place where you find more unique stories, diverse stories. Again, if you’re paying attention, you know, this, I know, this is my profession, if you’re paying attention, and you’re curious, everybody has a story to tell. But now you’re finding those stories out not just for the athletes, right? It might be the reporter that you meet from Taiwan, or whatever it is. And you find out that their dad was on and on and on. And on and on. He just started asking he started meeting it. And I think that’s the fun of it. I think that I’m guessing that’s why you got into this back as a young kid in Holbert. Why I got into it is is that the true excitement. Is being able to pass that story on to someone else.

Bill Hancock 32:23
Oh absolutely. And the guy we met in Tokyo at the Olympics, who was from Hiroshima. And he was born in Hiroshima in 1948. Oh, my goodness, I could have talked to that gentleman forever. And so that’s just an example of that guy. Yeah, he’s sitting there. He’s guarding the gate and something. And if you just ask him, How are you? Where are you from? Tell me, you find out he was from Hiroshima.

Joel Goldberg 32:52
So when people start to ask you, okay, okay, what what’s that’s Bill, you’re retiring, which by the way, you’re not retired yet, you still have work to do with the college football playoff, your successor will come in, and you’ll still be advising and doing this in that and still heading down to Dallas to the offices there. I just I don’t You strike me as a guy that maybe you’ll spend more time traveling, but you’re already doing that anyway. And that you’re there’s still going to be a press room or something somewhere to be involved that you’re not just suddenly going to disappear? What is next for you?

Bill Hancock 33:23
Yeah, I think that’s right. I think, well, we didn’t, we did have travel planned. And you’ll appreciate this, our first trip was going to be in Israel. We’ve never been there. So clearly, it’ll be a while before we get that opportunity. But it’s out there for us. I want to learn Photoshop, I have a dream. I’ve never told you this. I want to go to every Royals home game for a season. And kind of probably I’ll probably blog about it, I won’t sit in the press box, I’ll go sit in the stands. And I’ll figure out how to watch you and Monty voice. But that’s that’s one of my dreams. So look at it as I got this whole platform ahead of us. And we can do whatever we want to really without a lot of governing.

Joel Goldberg 34:06
Now you don’t have to go and you know, have Nikki print off all the copies and have everybody folding and shipping and all that you just hop onto your computer or even your phone and and push it out that way. I’ve got 10 minutes left with you and I still have a lot of ground to cover. So let me get to my baseball theme questions. In this very long, storied career that you’re so humble about and always wanting to push attention to others. What’s the biggest homerun that you have hit?

Bill Hancock 34:33
Oh, any home runs and I hit were were made by by the others around you. Just get good people around you and they do, they do really cool things. I like to think about games. You know, games are such a small part of what I do and what you do. But you think about the games. Greatest college football game I’ve seen was a Vince Young game in the Rose Bowl. Probably, probably for me basketball was at Princeton upsetting UCLA, I’m sitting at the official table for that game. Oh my goodness. But you so you can you can just go on and on and on about the games and the people went to school with a guy named Alvin Adams. Alvin became NBA Rookie of the Year. He was a great player of Oklahoma. Best Basketball, Best Foot college football player I ever saw. I don’t know, probably Barry Sanders, or maybe Leroy Selman. There’s my next column. I’ll put it on hold. About that for live TV.

Joel Goldberg 35:37
Yeah, it’s okay. That I mean, we live in a world of distractions now and and you’re, you’re in demand. I thought maybe it was Barry Sanders calling to thank you. But you know, you’re an Oklahoma guy, not an Oklahoma State guy. So but you got a lot of other family that that went the Oklahoma State route. I’m joking, of course. Okay. So we could go on and on about about Greatest Games. I know you push that off on to someone else? How about a swing and a miss along the way? And what did you learn from it?

Bill Hancock 36:16
Yeah, we missed on something in college football playoff. We thought New Year’s Eve is going to be a great time to play the semifinal games. There’s not many TV windows left. The NFL is pretty good gobbler up of TV windows. We planted our seed on our flag on Monday night. And for champ game and that that’s work. But we thought we could do a New Year’s Eve for semifinals didn’t work. And oh, man, I’ve made so many mistakes through the years. And what you learn in the media is when you make a mistake, you admit it. You don’t blame your secretary. You don’t blame somebody you say, Yeah, I messed that up. We put on scoreboard of the game in Baltimore. One time Oklahoma State was playing. I don’t know Drexel. And the scoreboard said Oklahoma versus Drexel. Oh my goodness, that’s about the worst thing you can do. We played Madison Square Garden. When I was a student, it was an NIT game. And on the marquee of the garden, they spelled Oklahoma wrong. They spelled it OAKLAHAMA. But, you know, whoever did that just had to say, Sorry. Messed up. We’ll fix it.

Joel Goldberg 37:27
Well, you know that in New York, maybe that maybe they said that’s just flyover country? Nobody knows. I don’t know. These things happen every single day. Certainly in our industry. You’re right. You either you either just roll with it, ignore it, if it’s not a big deal and move on. Or if it’s worthy of needing an apology or an admission or acknowledgement you do it and you move on. And that’s it. So it happens every single day. In our world, the last baseball theme question is small ball. What to you are the little things that lead to big results? What’s What’s the secret formula that you have found over the years that have worked for you?

Bill Hancock 38:05
Consistency. Not a foolish consistency, but don’t change the rules. You know? Maybe okay, maybe at the end of the season, we can look at tweaking this or that. But man if you can be the same when you go to work every day, if you if you have a nice operations manual so people know what to expect. That makes all the difference in the world. And it really is. It’s about the it’s about the little things. Throwing in bunting and blocking and tackling that that’s what makes an event successful.

Joel Goldberg 38:37
Couldn’t agree with you more. All right. We’ve got five minutes left. I have four final questions as we round bases. I was going to ask you something like a softball, like who’s your favorite Goldberg? And then you could have said Ellie, or maybe Susan, but we already we already know that that one. Yeah. I’ll ask you about your favorite Hancock. Because in the shadows, for really every step of the way, has been your amazing wife, Nikki. I used to ask everybody in their guests what what was the biggest home run? And they say marrying my wife. I’m like, okay, everybody’s saying that. And I’m not saying it’s not true. But in your case, I just think about all the miles traveled and I know all the hours it takes a special person to be able to handle that. And every time I look, the two of you are together. So two part question here. One. The rock that she has been I want you to talk about that into what it was like to have all your family down on the field for that final, that championship game last week.

Bill Hancock 39:32
Well, my wife Nikki is a rock. You nailed it. We were highschool sweethearts. And that hasn’t changed. And to have a whole family there was amazing. And my bosses said we’re going to honor you at the first break of the first quarter. We want you to come to the field. We want you to bring your family would they come? And I said I don’t know. They’re pretty shy but I’ll ask him and led by Jack they all said yeah, we’ll do it. It was amazing. I, when we were on the field, none of us could hear what was being said. There was a producer down there pointing at us when we were supposed to wave and when we walked out, but I still haven’t heard what they said. But it was a great experience and all the people who said to me, Wow, you have a great looking family. And I say, Yeah, we should. Got two daughters-in-law, one son and three awesome, awesome grandkids.

Joel Goldberg 40:22
You know what, I never met your son. I know, people know the story, certainly, of the Oklahoma State plane crash, but I have to imagine that you see so much of Will in your grandkids and their endeavors every single day as well.

Bill Hancock 40:37
Yeah, every day, every day, and I don’t think I was the best dad I could have been. I was traveling, I was on the road a lot. And so I made sure with the grandkids not to miss anything.

Joel Goldberg 40:46
No, I’m just telling everybody, like, there was not a performance that I went to even the smallest of ones were in the midst of the craziness of Bill’s world….there he was, you know, in the high school theater for for another course performance or musical or whatever it was. And so pretty cool. I know I, you know, Nate was telling me he used to take the boys to high school football games every Friday night. And so figuring out a way to to carve out that time I know was was so important. Alright, second question. As we round the bases, I wanted to to ask you a little bit about I asked you about what’s next, but I didn’t realize I mean, marathons, mountain climbing, Mount Rainier, Great Wall of China, you’ve been in the Grand Canyon. Is there a somewhere that you and Nikki want to go? You mentioned Israel, but is there is there something that you want to conquer something you want to get out there and do still?

Bill Hancock 41:45
Yeah, I haven’t spent as much time as I want to in northern Italy. And Germany, we went there for the Olympics. But I want to go back there. There’s a band of brothers based tour across Germany, across across Europe. I want to do that. I want to run the train across across Canada. I want to go visit some small towns in Kansas. I’ve never been Hannibal, Missouri for crying out loud. There, just go. So yeah, there’s like I said before so much on our plates and and we’re gonna get after it.

Joel Goldberg 42:19
All right, well, Hannibal, Missouri is a stop on the way to Chicago for The Goldbergs. Has been for years when we go see family, the Java Jive, that’s the coffee stop, we always stop at grab lunch. So you’ll need to do that when you get there. Okay. Third question. As we wrap things up, as we round the bases, I understand as a kid, you learned math from this unbelievable ability just to think in terms of sevens. So was it written on the wall from the beginning that you were going to be working in football?

Bill Hancock 42:48
It really gives me up on I put it in the two point play. Because now you could get eight. And yeah, I used to quiz Jack when he was three and four years old, our grandson, about how can you get 11 points in football. And he got where he would say four safeties and a field goal. Yeah, I live by sevens. And of course, seven days and weeks. I knew if it was September 14, a Saturday, there was going to be another game on the 21st and another one on the 28th. And you always knew 14, 21, 28, 35, you know, 40 to 49, 56. And you better not miss an extra point because it goofed up your sevens.

Joel Goldberg 43:27
Right, right. I used to be good up until about…through 70. I mean, obviously, 10, 10 times 7…70. That’s easy. Nobody was scoring 11 touchdowns, but I guess that’s 77 you know? Anyway, my sevens were always good with that, too. You’re right. The two point conversion really messed everything up. Okay. Last question. My walk off question. I love it even in those emails that you were sending out those daily emails to the Olympics, and I can’t wait to see what you send our way for Paris. It will be you know, it is so and so time here. But it is this time back in Hulbert, Oklahoma. I I sense that Hulbert will always be a part of you. It’s It’s who you are right. And so I was told that you are the self appointed historian of Hulbert. And on a mission to collect every Hulbert high school yearbook since 1938. Is this true?

Bill Hancock 43:49
That is actually true. And I’m missing 21 and 22. And I’m pretty disappointed with the yearbook advisor who hasn’t cashed my check for $20 a year to get me those two.

Joel Goldberg 44:37
Well, I know this much. It is, as humble as you are, been just a fascinating and incredible career. We could have talked hours just about favorite game we could have done a top 100 of favorite games, but I’m not going to put you on the spot like that. You already gave me some some best athletes best moments. I heard something about a typewriter falling from a press box one fun too fast. ballcourt the amount of bloopers and weird things that happen are some of the beauties, I think that keep us going every single day when it can get a little bit monotonous. And I’m talking about monotony in the best of fields, like we all, we all have the ups and downs. But I think that from my role from your role and anything that’s around that world of photographers, the ushers, whoever it is, it’s such a cool, fun, unique experience. But as you said, from the beginning, about people. So Bill, I want to I want to congratulate you, although it still seems strange to do it, because you’re not disappearing. But um, congratulations, unofficially, I guess, on an incredible career, and I can’t wait to see what’s next and really appreciate you spending time here. And of course, on the personal level, as well. It’s been it’s been so great getting to know your family.

Bill Hancock 45:46
Thank you, Joel, same to you. And we’ll see you soon.

Joel Goldberg 45:50
All right. Thanks, Bill.