The American Athletic Conference isn’t in the Power 5 conversation, and AAC commissioner Mike Aresco isn’t happy about it. Speaking to Shannon Owens-Green of the Orlando Sentinel, he discussed his desire to get the AAC on the same level as the autonomy conferences.
“We want to be in that conversation and eventually we want to be viewed as one of the autonomy conferences, that’s our ultimate goal,” Aresco told the Orlando Sentinel Wednesday. “But in the meantime, in order down the road to negotiate a better TV deal to provide more value, we need to not only win games — and I think we’re on the cusp of having some pretty good seasons — but I think we want to, we absolutely need to be in that conversation.”
It’s hard to argue with Aresco’s reasoning. The AAC is currently home to a bevy of talented teams including SMU, Houston, UConn and Cincinnati, among others.
These schools that I’ve just mentioned cover fairly large television markets, and each does well in its own right. UConn’s men’s basketball team won a championship two seasons ago, and SMU’s basketball squad is slowly becoming a top contender under Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. Cincinnati has also done well on the basketball court, and its football team won the AAC title last season.
Houston has struggled in recent years, but is in a strong enough TV market that it still garners some attention.
And yet, the AAC still struggles to get the respect it deserves as it has to work extra hard to keep up with the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC, plus even some non-Power 5 conferences. While it’s understandable that the conference wasn’t exactly dealt an ideal hand when the Catholic schools of the old Big East decided to break away and form the new Big East, the NCAA shouldn’t (for lack of better word) punish it as a result.
The fact of the matter is that the schools of the AAC have gone above and beyond to establish themselves as top programs in recent years, even taking home a championship in the process. And yet they remain on the outside looking in even with Navy set to join the conference this coming season.
Changes need to be made, and fast, especially since the conference’s TV deal with ESPN expires at the end of the 2019-2020 season. Hopefully, this entire situation is resolved before then.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports