Everyone is pitching ideas for the AAC’s 12th team. The summer slowdown forces writers to find new topics and a “who should they add” column is an easy mad lib. But for those of us that think about the AAC on a daily basis, this conversation isn’t so simple.
My opinion: there’s no good option for the American right now. And instead of panicking and adding another Tulsa or Tulane, the AAC should just let this play out. Prepare for an 11-team league in 2020 and then work to make a good deal.
Otherwise, the only choice is none of the above.
The American’s “Best” Options
Here’s our rundown of each program being “considered” and why it wouldn’t work out:
BYU – BYU doesn’t need the AAC. The Provo Cougars can schedule nationally, have a nice ESPN contract that pays approximately the same as what the new AAC deal will pay, and their (coming) new deal will get them more access to ESPN-owned bowls.
Part of BYU’s deal with ESPN is to broadcast (on delay) all of their games on BYUtv. They also have access to the entire archive of televised games they’ve played on ESPN. This is a big deal for the LDS.
BYU’s schedule is set for the next four years (missing one game in 2022) and they have nine games set for 2023 and 7 in 2024. And it’s a good schedule: BYU has 28 P5 games scheduled in the next 5 years with 14 of those at home. They also have 5 games with Boise (3 at home). The Broncos are one of BYU’s biggest draws.
That’s 33 premium games over 5 years with 17 of them at home. Why give that up for games with ECU, Tulsa, and Tulane?
Boise State – The Broncos are a remarkable program but they aren’t a fit in our league. They were admitted in 2011 but backed out before ever playing a game.
Boise would need a place for all of their programs – the MWC isn’t carrying Boise Olympic sports if they move their football. And the AAC doesn’t want them either – sending volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and other teams all the way to Boise for a one-off game will never happen.
There’s also the issue of exit fees. Boise would owe the MWC double the amount of their final year’s conference revenue. That would cost Boise in the neighborhood of $11 million and that’s before any entry fees to the AAC. $11 million to move just one program and then figure out where to put the others.
On top of that, Boise athletics receives over $13 million a year from student fees and school funds. There very well could be a revolt by students and the administration if Boise athletics wanted to move.
At this point, Boise State is a pipedream unless the AAC makes a boneheaded offer that includes their other programs.
Army – UH’s Overlord-on-the-Hudson is a classic prisoner of the moment situation. Yes, Army has had two really nice years (11 wins last year, 10 the year before) and they had a very solid 2016. But in the 20 years before that, they wone more than 5 games just one time. From 1998 until today, they’ve had 13 seasons of 3 or fewer wins (13) and just 4 winning seasons.
If you drill deeper, the entire picture of the last 3 years shows something else:
29 total wins
6 wins vs. FCS teams/transitioning to FBS
5 wins vs. MAC
5 wins vs. CUSA
In addition, Army was a disaster in seven seasons in C-USA, their only conference in 130 years of football. Army is not a long term decision for the American.
UNLV and Colorado State – Both are a no-go for many of the same reasons as Boise State. The money situation and finding a home for their other sports would prove too difficult.
Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, Georgia State – all have been mentioned in articles or on social media. None are serious contenders. Some are LOL bad takes. Why not Rice or ULM if we are dredging up schools.
The only reasonable choice is to be patient and see how the landscape changes. There’s no need to rush into anything. The AAC, for the first time in its history, can dictate what happens. Continue improving the conference we have – don’t make a bad deal just to get back to 12 teams.
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