Thursday, October 18, 2018
USF Bulls

AAC chief: Conference will ‘never surrender’ its Power Six push

The head of the American Athletic Conference unleashed analogies both colonial and contemporary in continuing to push his "Power Six" narrative Tuesday.

Speaking at the opening of the conference's media day in Newport, R.I., Commissioner Mike Aresco remained unabashed — and a tad unconventional — in insisting his 5-year-old league warrants recognition as the sixth power conference.

"I like to use the analogy: We can be JetBlue, which is a major carrier, but it's clearly different than a United or a Delta or an American," Aresco said. "I think the comparison's apt because we're a major conference but we do things a bit different.

"We recruit a little bit differently, we hire coaches differently, we schedule a bit differently. Witness our Thursday and Friday football schedules on ESPN, which has given us tremendous national exposure. But in many of the key ways that matter, we're alike."

Among the likenesses pointed out by Aresco: His schools pay cost of attendance for student-athletes, enjoy similar TV exposure and mostly have competed well against Power Five opponents (i.e. three New Year's Six victories, a men's national hoops title, three women's titles) in the last half-decade.

The glaring disparity: per-school television revenue, where the AAC lags woefully behind the Power Five.

Aresco said his league, which reportedly will generate slightly more than $20 million in TV revenue this year, intends to remedy that in its upcoming media-rights negotiations. Its current deal expires next July.

"We're never going to surrender to the naysayers, and they're always going to be with us," Aresco said.

"These same skeptics likely would not have given George Washington and the Colonial Army a chance against the mighty British either, and we all know how that one turned out. The only failure on our part that would ever concern me would be the failure to strive."

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