Build the AAC and make it home

Just ranting here a bit but this has been looming on my mind. We have been building the AAC along with our member teams for 5+ years now and have been fairly successful. But to sit here and hope some conference will come pick us up and a few other members is a pretty insane/unreliable strategy. Not saying it could not happen but we need to think about what are we missing out on while we pursue this strategy.

More specifically, ESPN and AAC were considering signing the grant of rights(GOR) where conference members would get locked in and will not be able to leave for a more lucrative conference. I think the conference should consider reducing their current 12 year contract down to a 7-10 yr contract with a GOR signed considering that revenue ticks up by a minimum of $5M per school.

Additionally, a second option should be proposed where with the GOR rights, the schools that are least likely to be pulled into a major conference concede 50%(or whatever makes sense) of their revenue to lock in the most desirable schools. In our case, if our payout increases by $5M plus another $2.5M from disproportionate revenue sharing as a result of GOR then that is something we should definitely consider. This will put our total pay out to $14.5M per year while the lesser schools in the conference (no offense intended) being Tulane, ECU etc. will still get a $2.5M bump in pay and conference security. That is enough money to change the landscape and actually build the conference into a true power. It’s enough money to get great coaches both in basketball and football.

Not to mention, when we ultimately expand, new conference members are likely to pay an entrance fee as Wichita State did ($2.5M for basketball only). We should pull in 2-3 more schools that ESPN does not currently own to increase maximum conference payouts. I’m talking about the MWC here and those basketball powers that are on a stranded island. BYU to AAC although lifts our profile, it does not add value to ESPN because they already own the property. Boise and SDSU are not owned by ESPN at the moment. Either way, $1-2M of entrance fees over several years from them and additional value that they add to our contract, that will put us at $14-15M per year high end and prob $11-13M at low end.

What are your thoughts on the topic and do you think AAC as a permanent home with the outlined economics and payouts would be worth staying in the conference and calling it a home? This is money now and most likely guaranteed as oppose to getting an invite into the wonderland which no one knows if and when it will come. Frankly, it’s quite degrading to be pegging all of our hopes on that. I also think there’s a sense of pride of building something from ground up as opposed to trying to join an established entity.

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The AAC is NOT a long term solution because of the following which are unlikely to ever change:

  1. No natural rivalries. Fans don’t get jazzed about ECU and Tulane
  2. No tie in to a NY6 bowl
  3. Virtually zero path to a playoff bid as it currently stands.

Any increased payouts from a renegotiated GOR aren’t enough to overcome those obstacles

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We went to a Final Four and a NY6 Bowl from the AAC. I like the AAC.

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I agree. Endless fantasy musings about joining a different Conference do nothing to advance our University because we have no control over being invited by someone else.

We do control our current Conference. It is good enough to make a Final Four and to make a New Year’s Day Bowl Game.

Improving our AAC should be our goal. Adding a high quality 12th. Member should be pursued. Improving our Bowl Game Tie-Ins should be a goal.

We begin our 2021 Football Season against Texas Tech. We can control that. How about beating the tar out of them on National TV?

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If we stay in the AAC we will be left behind end of story.

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The AAC is not a viable long term solution the money simply isn’t there. That’s it, that’s the whole thing. Everything else is secondary.

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If we keep basketball at an elite level (which I think we will) and we get football to a lower top 25 level (which I know we can), everyone and their dog will want us.

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The AAC is NOT a long term solution because of the following which are unlikely to ever change:

  1. No natural rivalries. Fans don’t get jazzed about ECU and Tulane
  2. No tie in to a NY6 bowl
  3. Virtually zero path to a playoff bid as it currently stands.

Any increased payouts from a renegotiated GOR aren’t enough to overcome those obstacles

  1. Rivalries are built over time. Our conference mates will need to continue to build their brands like us. Memphis, UCF, Cinci and SMU will be our main rivalries which have to be built up.
  2. NY6 right now is virtually ours. But with expansion, more dollars, winning/success and brand building good things will come beyond a bowl tie in. Our focus should be to win and build to where people come to us and we are not trying to constantly market/sell ourselves.
  3. No one in the AAC is realistically winning a Football national championship in the next 10 years nor are they likely to win one if a so called power conference picks them up in 2-5 years. The realistic goal right now is top 10, NY6 and consistently scheduling and beating blue blood programs. Once we have years of sustained success, we work towards National Championships.
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Agree. Our programs need to excel not to build up the AAC’s prestige but to position UH for the next round of expansion.

FBS football is the one sport where one program can out recruit another program by simply telling a kid he has no chance of playing in a championship or big bowl game with another program. How do you overcome that?

Also, we are unlikely to make the AAC a relevant FB conference because during the process of doing so, successful coaches will get poached left and right.

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The AAC is not a viable long term solution the money simply isn’t there. That’s it, that’s the whole thing. Everything else is secondary.

Right, at the current contract of $7M, it is not a great option to stick with the AAC. Sign GOR, introduce unequal revenue sharing as mentioned in my post and we get to 12-15M, we should give it a thought. We should have a $$ amount associated with what can build and sustain success here and run with that number. Having a blank cheque and running things like UT with all the money in the world but not a whole lot of success to follow up with should be avoided.

The last 2 points of yours are ridiculous. A G5 conference will never have the appeal of a P5 no matter how much success we have. And the P5 will break away long before they ever let us sniff a National Championship. And you can’t claim that no school would win because but then ignore that the reason behind it is because no school in a G5 will ever be able to recruit at a P5 level.

A GOR an unequal revenue sharing would be the death of the AAC. I can already see half of our conference rioting if we go to unequal revenue.

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I really don’t think that’s true. Sure, in a nominal sense, other sports at least offer a chance, however remote, to win a title, but how many kids do you think wind up deciding to play at Kansas on the off-chance that it’s possible for them to go undefeated and win it all? A NY6 berth, much less a playoff invite or title, is a pipe dream for the vast majority of programs, P5 or otherwise, and it does recruits a disservice to pretend they don’t know that.

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  1. Rivalries: I’ve been going to UH football games since the late 90’s as an undergrad. We played ECU, Tulane, Cincy, Memphis etc. way back then. It’s been 25 years and counting. Nobody really gets up for those games. Guys are not talking water cooler smack to their Memphis grad colleague (b/c there aren’t many around here). I’m not trash talking my old high school buddy who is a die hard ECU alum (again, non existent) How much longer do these rivalries need to develop?
  2. NY6 Bowl: We’ve been to one NY6 bowl. Who are all these other teams playing in “our” bowl? If in a year, BYU and UH (for example) go undefeated… we absolutely do not have a lock on that bid.
  3. Hard to beat all those blue bloods (who don’t schedule us) year in and year out if coaches keep getting poached and recruits leave as a result.

I can sympathize with the us versus the world, we’ll do this ourself attitude. The AAC will never be a conference that provides the success we are looking for

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While there is logic to this post there are enough “good” programs to keep us from ever breaking the celling of an NY6. Then you factor in the fringe programs that could be good again with the right recruits and it becomes even harder. At the end of the day our celling will always be a good paying G5 conference with an NY6 cap. If we are ok with that then fine but our goal should be to become as successful as possible so that we can leave for greener pastures as soon as possible.

Settling for never winning a National Championship is a loser mentality.

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The AAC isn’t bad, it’s just not ideal for what we want long term.

As a poster mentioned above, we don’t have natural rivalries with many AAC opponents. And because of this, as well as the chump change we get from ESPN, it’s not sustainable for our athletics programs to stick around.

We need more money and sustained fan support. And both of those come easy with being in a better conference.

Again, the AAC is good for now but we belong and deserve to be elsewhere.

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I think there are plenty of potential instances this could come into play. Example:

A local kid could be looking at UH, TT, UT. Kid wants to stay close to home at Houston but UT recruiter says “at Texas, we play for championships”. TT (who had been ranked high in recent memory) can say “we’re putting together a national championship team, we want you to be part of it”. Even if that kid would start at UH but play backup at TT/UT that can swing somebody on the fence.

Point being, it is a tool that can be subtly used against a school in the AAC.

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If Kansas goes 6-6 it will play in a better bowl than if we finish 10-2.

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RE Rivalries: if we move to a P5 conference, who would we build rivalries with? PAC, ACC, SEC teams generally have long standing rivalries. We may be more excited playing these different teams, but they won’t consider us rivals.

Some will say we could have rivals in the Big 12. We have a history and location. But consider this, we played their TX teams for 20 years in the SWC. We may have enjoyed playing those teams more than AAC teams, but how many of them considered us a rival? None of them.

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If G5’s get a direct path to the playoffs (i.e. expand to 8 teams with highest ranked G5 autobid), this would dramatically change the recruiting landscape for the top tier G5 schools. Even if it’s one spot, coaches will kill for those top G5 jobs such as Houston who can recruit in one of the best regions in America and use as a stepping stone to a P5.

It helps and hurts us, but it’s the best chance we get.

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