Anyone else holding his breath when Brigham Young head football coach Bronco Mendenhall made a blatant pitch for Big 12 membership? Fortunately, we didn’t have to hold our breath long before Big12 athletic directors firmly stated that the Big12 was not interested in expansion. Navy football fans are spared another white-knuckle offseason of conference re-alignment. For the moment, the college football landscape will remain unchanged.
That’s not to say that the current conference alignment and College Football Playoff will last forever. I won’t predict the exact shape or the timeline, but the five College Football Playoff conferences will likely grow richer and increase their separation from the Group of Five. Until then, the American can work toward success in the current picture.
American commissioner Mike Aresco appears to be committed to fighting for the top of the heap in the Group of Five. The American claims the reigning mens’ and womens’ basketball champions, both at Connecticut, but football remains the straw that stirs the drink. “We’re going to talk a lot about the position of our conference as we move forward because I think we can position ourselves as a power conference,” Aresco said. “I see no reason why we can’t.”
The American closed out the BCS era in style, with UCF beating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. In order to start the College Football Playoff era well, the 2014 American Athletic Conference champion needs to be ranked ahead of the other Group of Five champions to get the access bowl bid. The perception and money that comes with that can maintain momentum. A bid to the Fiesta/Chick-fil-A/Cotton Bowl for Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, or ECU will keep Navy and the American as well positioned as they can expect for the next upheaval in conference alignment.