College football title game CEO Hancock 'very impressed with Charlotte'

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones (12) looks to avoid a sack against Oregon during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on Jan. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones (12) looks to avoid a sack against Oregon during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on Jan. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Getty Images

Bill Hancock, chief executive officer of the College Football Championship, visited Charlotte earlier this week to take a look at the city’s bid to host the national title game in either 2019 or 2020. Hancock, who directed the NCAA basketball tournament’s Final Four in Charlotte in 1994, answered five questions from the Observer’s David Scott about Charlotte and its chances at landing the title game (he said an announcement is expected in early November):

Q. What are you looking for in a city?

A.“Broadly, we’re looking at the infrastructure of the city, the stadium, hotels, airport and air service. But it is also helpful to get a handle on a city’s ability to stage a big event by trying the find the human part of it – the desire, the heart. I wouldn’t want to read too much into this because we are so early in the process. And let’s just say we were very impressed with Charlotte.”

Q. How has Charlotte’s evolution as a town supporting college football – the ACC championship game, the Belk Bowl, several regular-season games in Bank of America Stadium and the Charlotte 49ers’ moving into FBS – attracted the attention of the committee?

A.“Charlotte has made great strides as a college football town. The sport was almost nonexistent there 20 years ago. Others have stepped up too, but it would be hard to find one that’s grown with the sport as dramatically as Charlotte has.”

Q. Is the uncertainty of the weather during January a hindrance to Charlotte’s chances?

A.“Well, if you mention Charlotte to somebody from, say, Texas, they’re going to ask, ‘How’s the weather going to be?’ But the group in Charlotte was very upfront with that and actually gave us data on the average weather conditions on the date of the game over the last several years. But it’s way too early to evaluate that.”

Q. How much has Charlotte changed since you ran the 1994 Final Four?

A.“I had only been to Charlotte one time since that Tuesday morning I left after the Final Four. It was almost like one of those movies where you jet 20 years into the future. I had no idea it would have changed the way it has.”

Q. So it’s safe to say there wouldn’t need to be a “Street of Champions” like there was for the Final Four for a college football championship game?

A. “Can I steal that quote from you? I went for a walk Tuesday morning down Tryon Street and looked at all the store fronts and said, ‘Oh, that’s where restaurant X was, or that’s where bar Y was.’ It is truly remarkable. From a social point of view, downtown living makes the area so different from a lot of other places.”

College notes

▪ The Charlotte 49ers won Conference USA’s Sport Academic Award for softball by having a 3.505 team grade-point average. Rice earned the league’s Institutional Excellence Award with a 3.246 GPA among all its athletes.

▪ 49ers women’s basketball coach Cara Consuegra recently gave birth to her second son, Jace. Consuegra and husband JP Josetti have an older son Jayden, who turns 2 in August.

▪ Davidson receiver William Morris made the STATS FCS preseason all-American third team. Morris caught a school-record 94 passes for 1,224 yards last season.

▪ Winthrop infielder Mitch Spires will play in the Coastal Plain League’s all-star game Monday in Florence, S.C. Spires is hitting .326 for the Petersburg (Va.) Generals. The CPL is a summer collegiate league with teams in Virginia and the Carolinas.

▪ Stu Holt is Appalachian State’s new running backs coach. Holt comes to Appalachian from South Florida, where he was the Bulls’ special teams and tight ends coach.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer