ST. PETERSBURG — Bill Hancock is the kind, unassuming executive director of the College Football Playoff, which on Jan. 9 will hold its third national championship game, right here at Raymond James Stadium. On Tuesday, Hancock was riding in a fancy shuttle bus on I-375, bound for another stop on a two-day CFP media blitz. Hancock didn't know where he was in Tampa Bay, exactly.Suddenly his eyes widened. There, through the bus window … "Oh, my goodness, there's the Trop!"Not the Taj Mahal. Not the image of the Blessed Mother.Tropicana Field.Hancock? He saw an old friend."I haven't been here since we left that Monday night after the title game."The 1999 title game at the NCAA men's basketball Final Four. UConn over Duke. Hancock oversaw the Final Four for years for the NCAA, when the Final Four was the second biggest annual sports event in the country. Now Hancock runs what I think is the new No. 2: the CFP. Forget all that. The man grew nostalgic at seeing Mama Trop. Little wonder why Hancock is routinely called the nicest man in college sports."I don't know if you could tell, but I got a little chill," he said with a smile. "My neck tingled."The Trop."In my mind, it was a great time," Hancock said of the '99 Final Four. "The stadium, the baseball footprint, we worked with that. But everybody had a great time. That's when I got exposed to the warmth of this community on both sides of the bay."Along for the bus ride and media outreach was Rob Higgins, a dazzling talent, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, which helped lead the drive to land the CFP championship game.Hancock talked about the CFP picking Tampa to host the title game."Infrastructure, airport, stadium, and that warmth factor," Hancock said.Before the CFP, Hancock ran the Bowl Championship Series as a one-man staff working out of his suburban Kansas City, Mo., home. The BCS took plenty of slings and arrows.Behold the CFP."I had high expectations," Hancock said. "But it has exceeded my expectations in terms of public acceptance."Some argue for a bigger bracket, more than four teams. Hancock, a bracket guy from way back, March Madness and all, defended the CFP setup."Our regular season is the best in sports," he said. "I like the NFL. I love major-league baseball. But our regular season is the most compelling, the most meaningful. That's why we didn't go to a giant playoff, because at some point a big playoff begins to erode the regular season. That has happened to a sport I love so much, college basketball."Back to championship weekend and title night."We want this to have a college feel," Hancock said. "It's very important for this not to feel like a pro football game. We get compared to the Super Bowl. We are not the Super Bowl. We're not here as long, our TV viewership is not what they get. That's fine. … Nobody should ever try to be the Super Bowl because nobody can."Don't look for big-time musical acts at CFP title game halftimes. You'll get college bands. Hancock won't say who made the final call on that, but he did play clarinet and saxophone in high school.Strike up the you know what. The CFP is heading our way.Makes you warm all over.The bus bumped up and down. Bill Hancock smiled."There it is again. There's the Trop."Pause."I'm sorry we couldn't go by Al Lang."