Mike Aresco finally sees the damn light

After years of positioning The American as a “Power” conference, why does the outspoken AAC Commish suddenly call for unity?

For many seasons, the college football community had to endure a number of disquieting truths, one being that maybe The American really is the sixth power conference. Maybe not in revenue, or in fawning media coverage, but perhaps in something far more salient – victories.

After all, since the start of the New Year’s Six Era in 2014, seven Group of Five invites have hailed from the AAC, including the latest, Tulane. The AAC routinely populates the NCAA Basketball Tournament (also known as The Big Dance) with multiple bids year after year. The success has been so great for Mike Aresco and the Power 6, it eventually attracted the Power Five poachers.

Three of the American’s most powerful member – Houston, UCF and Cincinnati – took that Big 12 cheddar the moment it was offered. Others would have happily followed if extended the invitation. And that left Mike Aresco scouring seeking solace from the very same people he ghosted for years – the Group of Five.

“At this moment in history, separating conferences with a so-called “Power Five” moniker lacks meaning in the context of competitiveness,” now says Aresco in a recently released statement from the AAC.

Oh really? As the Power Five consolidated power by knee-capping the NCAA and taking whatever it wants, the Group of Five struggled and clawed its way to relevance while its strongest member – The American – smugly and publicly attached themselves with the P5.

“No labels,” says the label maker.

“In recent weeks I have seen references to the “Power Five” in interviews and public conversations which suggest the P5 is virtually the exclusive focus in college athletics. This is profoundly misguided, especially in the current environment.” [italics are mine]

You’re just now noticing that, Mike Aresco? Well welcome to the fight, pal! It’s like Mike awoke from a coma and just now realized that everybody around him wants to eat his brains.

It’s great that Mike Aresco is finally calling for unity when he suddenly realizes that his G5 conference was just as vulnerable as the rest. My hero! Bra-fucking-vo. Hey, Mike, what else has just now occurred to you?

“It is troubling to see media-manufactured labels, confirmed by college sports leadership, which do not reflect the reality of college sports going forward. This creates a divide at five that should not exist and creates harmful effects.”

They guy who wanted to wedge himself into the Power Five now sees how destructive and unfair it all is. But I welcome Mike Aresco. Honestly, his bravado was the force of will that elevated the AAC to a point where a threatened P5 felt it necessary to dismantle it. We could use that bravado, even if it’s nearly ten years too late.

Original Photo: Mike Weber, Commercial Appeal