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.
2 thoughts on “American Athletic Conference in 2014…and beyond…”
Thanks for your insights. A perhaps premature, but interesting question: in the AAC, will Navy no longer have the luxury of pre-selecting a post season bowl game (Poinsettia this year) as they will have to wait out the season to see if they become conference champion? I know Navy likes bowl games that have minimal impact on exams.
Zoltan – Thanks for the comment. Bottom line up front: you’re absolutely right that Navy will not have pre-determined bowls. When bowl-eligible, Navy will just be in the mix for the American’s bowls. All that will have to wait until the first weekend of December because of all the cascading effects: Conference championship games will likely decide which Group of Five team goes to the big show, then the other bowls’ choices with multiple variables fallout after. Even in the remote chance that one of the American’s bowl tie-ins wants Navy lo the exclusion of all others, those planets lining up and wheeling and dealing would still be close to that first weekend of December. The schedule could still be tough, but Army week is already in the middle of finals. This year, our 23 December Poinsettia Bowl date is earlier than ALL five of the presently published dates for American bowl tie-ins (sixth will be “the week before Christmas). My medium term concern is the second order effect of MUCH later notification on ticket sales.