The AAC is reeling after losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12, and recovering won’t be easy

It was late July when Large 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby — after realizing he was about to lose Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC — informed CBS Sports activities’ Dennis Dodd that he believed the American Athletic Conference was trying to poach additional Big 12 members in an try to, roughly, kill his convention for good.

It was a nice headline.

However the reality is that Bowlsby’s claims — which had been strongly denied by AAC commissioner Mike Aresco and ESPN president of programming and unique content material Burke Magnus — appeared extra rooted in paranoia than actuality. Why would any Large 12 member need to be a part of a lesser league with a smaller media rights deal and no Energy 5 autonomy? All of them needed to maneuver up, not down. So it at all times appeared just like the extra doubtless means issues would play out could be the best way issues have really performed out — not with the AAC taking Large 12 faculties, however with the Large 12 taking AAC faculties, particularly whichever ones it needed.

And now right here we’re.

The Large 12 Convention Board of Administrators voted Friday to extend membership invitations to a few AAC faculties — Cincinnati, Houston, UCF — plus BYU, which is an impartial in soccer and member of the West Coast Convention in different sports activities. Unsurprisingly, all 4 celebrated and accepted these invites, at which level it grew to become official that the AAC is shedding three of its largest and greatest athletics applications.

It is a devastating improvement.

And although Aresco has indicated that his league may even develop with a purpose of remaining forward of all different Group of 5 conferences, there is no denying it is a tough process. For starters, whenever you lose out of your high and add to your backside, the ceiling is, not less than quickly, lowered. There is no getting round that. However the actual factor working towards the AAC now could be how Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt and Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard each lately mentioned they suppose the Large 12 will certainly develop once more — maybe sooner slightly than later.

That is a large assertion — one that ought to create actual hesitation amongst some AAC targets as a result of in case you imagine the Large 12 might develop once more quickly, and also you imagine you is perhaps a possible Large 12 goal the subsequent time the Large 12 expands, why would you’ve any curiosity in becoming a member of the AAC proper now? To be clear, I am not ruling something out. However, given what Hocutt and Pollard have instructed, it is laborious to think about a state of affairs the place Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State or another faculty that is perhaps on the Large 12’s radar would go away its present convention for the AAC. And in case you’re Coastal Carolina, Arkansas State, UAB, Charlotte, North Texas or another C-USA or Solar Belt member that doubtless is not on the Large 12’s radar, is it clear that you must go away your present league to affix a drastically diminished AAC that would additionally ultimately lose Memphis, SMU and/or USF if the Large 12 decides so as to add extra American faculties?


In equity, in all probability.

However it’s not less than one thing that needs to be thought-about, and that consideration is undeniably one thing that’ll make Aresco’s already tough job tougher than it in any other case could be. I don’t envy his place.

“Our remaining faculties are unwavering of their dedication to competing and succeeding on the highest stage, and we won’t enable exterior elements to place a ceiling on our potential,” Aresco said Friday in a statement. “We stay unified and resolute and can think about all of our choices as we transfer the American into our second decade and past.”

Good assertion, I assume.

The issue is that it is fantastical.

Regardless of Aresco’s claims, there may be actually no means for the AAC to keep away from exterior elements placing a ceiling on its potential contemplating exterior elements simply robbed the AAC of three of its greatest applications (and will finally take extra). Exterior elements are the AAC’s worst nightmare. And the concept the remaining AAC members are “unified” is, with all due respect to Aresco, simply laughable. Belief me, if Memphis might bounce to the Large 12 tomorrow, it will. And if Memphis can transfer subsequent yr or any yr after that, it’ll.

Backside line, Aresco’s declare that the AAC is a part of a “Energy Six” was by no means really true, nevertheless it’s means much less true now than it is ever been. The hole is rising wider, not smaller. And, sadly for the American, there’s in all probability no strategy to forestall the inevitable, which is to say a world the place the AAC appears to be like extra just like the Solar Belt or C-USA than the Energy 5 leagues it is ceaselessly chased however solely fallen additional behind.

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