AAC planning to add 6 Conference USA teams after departure of Cincy, Houston and UCF | College Football Enquirer
Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss the AAC’s plan to add FAU, Charlotte, North Texas, UTSA, Rice and UAB to make up for the losses of Cincinnati, Houston and UCF.
DAN WETZEL: The AAC, the American Athletic Conference, after being rebuffed by the schools out west, is examining expansion and will receive these applications again. These are hysterical. It looks like the American is going to add Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, North Texas, Texas San Antonio, Rice, and Birmingham this week. They will grow to a 14-team football league. They are also a 14-team basketball league. They got Navy for football. They've got Wichita for basketball, blah, blah, blah.
That's the decision. The couple obvious ones is, why not grab Coastal Carolina? Why not grab Appalachian State? Anyway, why these guys?
PETE THAMEL: Yeah, so it's an interesting moment. So basically, this is done. By the time--
DAN WETZEL: It's only kind of interesting.
PETE THAMEL: That's fair. Why these six? It's very simple. You can see a majority of these six have the same archetype that Louisville had 20 years ago, that Utah had 15 years ago, that Cincinnati had eight, 10 years ago, Houston, Central Florida. The archetype of Texas San Antonio in San Antonio, Alabama Birmingham in Birmingham, could be the paradigm that that league in its different iterations has been proven capable of growing.
And so you have a school in a fertile area, and it's in a big market. You have football-crazed areas. You have Houston. That North Dallas area is almost its own major metropolitan city where Denton, where North Texas is. You've got San Antonio. Birmingham is as football-crazed a place as we've been. Charlotte is Charlotte. It's very good.
So basically, they spread the seeds around. They're planting them. They're watering them with a little extra TV money and some ESPN exposure, and they're hoping that they grow. And probably the most important inside baseball from this that I've gleaned from some reporting today is that the AAC television deal, which is $1-billion deal that goes through 2031-'32, is essentially supposed to stay intact. So there was a lot of skepticism around-- and some people wrote it the last 24 hours-- that there was an expectation that that deal got gutted because those three schools left.
And as it sits today, Tuesday afternoon, I've been told that the expectation is that if you are one of those eight remaining teams, you are going to stay whole or close to whole or essentially whole from the TV side of that deal. The six teams coming in are only getting a partial share. They're going to start at over $2 million, and that's going to grow on a scale. They'll probably come in in 2023 depending on some other exits and some different things like that. We're all waiting on Oklahoma and Texas before some of these things start to go.
But that, I think, is relevant. Yeah, it's more money. It's more exposure. I do think there's a power to being on ESPN still. If there's a game on ESPN on a Thursday night and a game on CBS on Thursday night, CBS Sports, people are just-- that ESPN game is going to be on the back in every sports bar in the country. We're going to flip it on in the background while we're eating dinner on a Thursday. That has been the recipe that has allowed these Big East schools to grow, these American schools to grow. And I feel that this is just the latest attempt to cook up a new batch.
PAT FORDE: Can I just say that we have reached the predatory nature of realignment? It starts with the SEC killing the Big 12. The Big 12 then kills the AAC. The ACC tries to kill the Mountain West but instead has to veer off and absolutely gut Conference USA. And this is when you get down to the gritty end of the food chain here, you know? It's kind of getting grim.
DAN WETZEL: It's last call at the dive bar. Who's going home with UMass?
PAT FORDE: When all of a sudden, Rice is in demand, things are getting-- the pickings are getting slim down there.