AAC chief: Colleges, preps can co-exist on Fridays
Call it one of those quirks of fate, a timely chance to share a significant Friday night plight with a key college figure.
The same day the Tampa Bay Times published this Tom Jones column decrying the infringement of televised college football on a night (Friday) normally reserved for high schools, we had a chance to ask American Athletic Conference commissioner (and former network TV executive) Mike Aresco about it.
His response: A generation ago, he might have believed Fridays should remain the sole domain of the high schools, but now he believes colleges and preps can co-exist -- to a degree.
"Only a handful of games are played at the college level (on Fridays) and people that are loyal to their local teams will go to their local high school games...and that's the key," Aresco said prior to USF's contest -- on Friday night, no less -- against Cincinnati.
"They've got their own fan bases, obviously. It does affect a few teams in a few markets on Friday night, but very few (college) teams do it more than once or twice."
For non-Power Five conferences (such as the AAC) trying to establish an identity, nationally televised Friday contests have evolved into a gold mine of sorts. The AAC has had 15 games attract at least a million viewers this season compared to 11 all of last season, according to Aresco. Presumably, a handful of those have been Friday contests.
"Thursdays have been taken over by the NFL and the only time a college program can get the kind of national attention, even more so than Saturdays (is on a Friday)," Aresco said.
"First of all, there aren't that many of them being played (on a Friday). So, for the most part, you want people to watch the games and all, but I think people who are devoted to high school football will go to the games and it's never been easy. But it's like anything else, I think there's a place for both now on Fridays."