I caught up with the Commissioner of the American Athletic Conference, Mike Aresco, on Dec. 1.
This was the evening before UCF won the AAC Championship over Memphis and Head Coach Scott Frost went from coaching the Knights to rebuilding his alma mater, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He was very candid in his confidence in not only his conference but its “Power 6” campaign (better known as #P6 throughout social media) to change the landscape of the College Football Playoff.
Aresco said, “We’re knocking on the door, certainly, of the P5 — the so-called [Power] 5. . .”. He continued, “I think we’re clearly the 6th conference right now and we want it to be an official P6.”
While we may not yet know the outcome of the Peach and Liberty Bowls that will respectively feature the champion and runner-up, their participation as two of seven bowl-bound American Conference schools speaks volumes to a nationally prolific discussion in the CFP committee’s reputation as a cartel that blocks out less prominent football programs. And that’s not to mention the more than six million viewers in the last 30 minutes of the Black Friday matchup between USF and UCF. It’s real examples like these that allow the message the American not be “based on fluff.”
The man-in-charge also commented that there are challenges in dealing with change within the conference. The ultimate example being when the top team in the AAC, as the nation’s only undefeated team, also loses the Coach of the Year in college football from its ranks. The Commish said, “It’s a challenge, there’s no question about it.”
He expressed optimism none the less proclaiming, “I think we’ve handled it pretty well though. I think the secret is hiring good coaches to replace ones that have been good and have built good programs.”
As NGSC Sports continues to cover the American Athletic Conference, one thing we know that Aresco’s persistence shows throughout each of the school as powers in their own right. They may not have as much coverage or clout in the postseason, but as 2017 performance has posed maybe that should change. Maybe the eventual a successful doesn’t just lead to a win for more school inclusion in the CFP, but also for the fans who could be enriched in what is a possible to victory for an underdog.
Listen to the rest of the interview for the Mike Aresco’s complete thoughts on these and other topics.