The American Athletic Conference is putting an interesting spin on the departures of three of its members.
The group claimed that it's a "power conference" in college athletics on Friday after the Big 12 officially invited Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. The three schools are currently members of the AAC and the conference says that the Big 12's desire to have them in the league is proof that the AAC is one of the most powerful conferences in the country.
Today’s news confirms what we have said all along regarding our status as a power conference. The irony that three of our schools are being asked to take the place of the two marquee schools which are leaving the Big 12 is not lost on us. Our conference was targeted for exceeding expectations in a system that wasn’t designed to accommodate our success.
All three of these institutions have enjoyed unprecedented success as members of The American, as have our remaining schools. Many of our schools have achieved competitive success similar to the departing schools. We have every expectation that the three departing schools will abide by the conference bylaws to ensure an amicable and orderly transition. We wish them continued success in the future.
Our remaining schools are unwavering in their commitment to competing and succeeding at the highest level and we will not allow external factors to put a ceiling on our potential. We remain unified and resolute and will consider all of our options as we move The American into our second decade and beyond.
The Big 12 officially invited the three AAC schools and BYU to the conference on Friday to strengthen its status. Oklahoma and Texas are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in 2025 and the Big 12 needed to add more teams to stay viable.
AAC has long claimed it's a power conference
The AAC's perceived sense of self-importance is nothing new. Commissioner Mike Aresco has long tried to claim that the Power Five conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — are actually the Power Six and the AAC is included in the group.
That claim is specious considering that the Power Five conferences have autonomy privileges that the other five conferences at the top level of college football don't have in addition to the significantly more money they generate. And it's even more specious with Friday's argument.
If the AAC were so powerful and strong, the three schools wouldn't have wanted to leave. They did because they can make more money in the Big 12. Simply put, money is a sign of strength in college athletics.
Three schools also don't make an entire conference powerful. Just ask the Big 12. If Oklahoma and Texas were so vital to the Big 12's status, why didn't the entire conference collapse upon itself after they said they were leaving?
Sure, the Big 12 isn't as marketable without OU and UT, but the conference is still firmly entrenched in the Power Five group in terms of money and reach with the addition of the four new schools. And the AAC is severely, severely weakened.
Aresco and the rest of the schools in the AAC know that. That's why he's continuing to put up the "power conference facade." Maybe Aresco is thinking like George in "Seinfeld." If you say something enough it will inevitably become true.