AAC, Commissioner Mike Aresco Continue To Push For Inclusion In "Power Six"
AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco yesterday continued to make his "push for the league to be considered the sixth 'power' conference in college football," according to Conyers & Anthony of the HARTFORD COURANT. Speaking at the AAC's media day, Aresco said, "The conference is clearly on the cusp of great things, having already accomplished so much in our relatively brief history. We issued a strategic plan that will guide our efforts to be and remain a Power Six conference." The AAC "hopes to join" the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC as one of college sports' power conferences, and as part of the plan, the conference "wants to increase attendance at football stadiums and basketball arenas" to 70% and 80% capacity, earn a graduation rate of 90% or better and "strengthen the TV and media rights deals" (HARTFORD COURANT, 7/19). Aresco said AAC teams "currently lack the financial resources of many of the other P6 universities" because of the conference's current TV deal, but "we have the will and we have the ability." Aresco: "We believe we are already a P6 conference, and correspondingly we want and need a TV/media deal that recognizes what we have achieved and affords us the resources to continue to build the conference and continue to compete successfully with the other P6 conferences in the ever-competitive college football environment." In Memphis, Tom Schad notes Aresco said "Power 6" or "P6" a total of 16 times during his 23-minute speech. He even "wore a 'P6' pin on his suit jacket for good measure" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 7/19).
THE JOY OF SIX: Aresco said the Power Six campaign has been “well received,” but noted the conference would not have "done this three or four years ago.” Aresco: “We wanted people to either embrace it or at least say, ‘They’ve got a shot,’ rather than laugh at us and say, ‘This is just a marketing thing, it doesn’t mean anything.’ That’s not happening. The media is talking about us.” He added the initial Power Five moniker was a "media creation." Aresco: "Now we’re trying to basically say, ‘Look, there’s no admittance to it. It’s a question of you and the viewers and people out there -- the fans -- think we deserve to be in it’” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 7/18). However, USA TODAY's Paul Myerberg writes the AAC's "idea of crashing college football’s elite quintet was met with shrugged shoulders" by conference ADs, who "understand the simple mathematics behind turning five into six." There will be no Power Six until college football’s power brokers "decide to tear up the existing postseason contract and move to an eight-team field" for the CFP. In other words, the Power Six "movement is a hashtag, a helmet, a golf ball and nothing more" (USA TODAY, 7/19). In Cincinnati, Tom Groeschen writes cynics "sometimes roll their eyes when Aresco speaks of Power Six, but college insiders sometimes give Aresco some leeway" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 7/19). Univ. of Miami sports business professor Windy Dees tweeted, "@American_Conf pushing for #Power6 status. Won't happen until 2025, as ESPN paid $7.3B for media rights to current #CFB playoff" (TWITTER.com, 7/18).
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR CAN MAKE: Aresco admitted there is a "different feeling" around this year's media day than last year, when the Big 12's potential expansion "hung over" the proceedings. He said, "The P6 campaign is part of that. We had to put it on hold a bit ... and we didn’t know what we’d have in the aftermath of the whole Big 12. Now that we’re intact and continue to succeed ... it’s time to talk about the Power Six." He added it is "critical" for the AAC to sign a strong media-rights deal when it comes up for renewal. That negotiation "will probably take place" early in '19. Aresco said the conference will "talk to ESPN in ’18 to see if they want to redo the deal.” Aresco: "We need more revenue and we think we can generate more revenue because we’re far more valuable.” He also said playing on Thursday and Friday nights is an option the conference is open to. Aresco: "You saw some of the bigger conferences rebel when asked to (play on Thursday and Friday). Our guys know who they are and they’re willing to do it" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 7/18).