The American Athletic Conference (AAC) recently lost three football members to the Big 12, who were expanding following the loss of Oklahoma and Texas.
This move comes as a major move in an attempt to keep the AAC relevant following the loss of their three top prestigious schools.
The schools that will be in the AAC at the completion of the movement:
- East Carolina
- Florida Atlantic
- North Texas
Wichita State is also in the conference, but they are mainly a basketball member.
What this means for the Conference-USA
The C-USA was one of the bigger groups of five conferences before, hosting a total of fourteen schools. Now, losing six schools, they will be forced to act to bring in other schools to replace them to retain their relevance.
The lesson that should be pulled from this is that television contracts are a huge deal in modern college football. The C-USA mostly airs on CBS Sports and Stadium, it’s not a great contract for national attention. Several national streaming platforms (most notably Sling TV) both don’t carry CBS Sports on their platforms. Stadium isn’t an attractive platform in terms of cash, even though their presentation during a game has improved tremendously over the last few years.
Reports also indicate that Southern Mississippi is headed to the Sun Belt Conference, which could spell the end of the C-USA as we know it. Southern Mississippi would be the seventh school to announce their departure.
The AAC has a television contract with ESPN, signed in March of 2019, that promised around $83M paid out annually to the conference. Their deal runs through 2031-32.
How the AAC has impacted the national picture
The AAC still wants to push the idea that they are part of the “Power Six” conferences. Several of the schools added to the conference slate have seen recent success in multiple sports in recent memory, especially in football. Florida Atlantic has sustained success the best recently, while UAB and UTSA have recently become monsters on the football front.
The best way to defeat your competition is to obliterate them. This announcement has basically done that for the C-USA. There is little pull to keep schools around and no bargaining leverage.
The C-USA has lost all but two of its schools that have won the conference championship since its inception in 1996. Only Western Kentucky and Marshall remain, though it’s clear that the clock is ticking for them.
There is more movement to come. We will have it all covered here on NFL Sapient.