Introducing the American Athletic Conference


If a logo alone could establish the identity of a league the new American Athletic Conference would take a backseat to no one in NCAA sports.  Unfortunately a logo alone doesn’t have that kind of power and the AAC has a lot of looking up to do, at a lot of conferences.  The league once known as the Big East, a name it lost in an ugly divorce with it’s seven Catholic, non football members, yesterday unveiled it’s logo, and, for it’s simplicity, which should lead to instant recognizability, alone, it’s a beauty.  A bold, dark blue capital “A” with a red star set in the middle on a light blue background.  The printed text version of the conference name begins with the bold blue “A” with the red star as a dot over the “I” in American, making it hard to mistake it from other conferences.  For other, less impressive, reasons, it’s not likely anyone will mistake the AAC for the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac Ten or SEC.  AAC commissioner Mike Aresco held a media conference call yesterday and he said the logo has already generated positive response and he says the public is already embracing a shorthanded name for the league, “The American”.  Aresco confirmed that the league, as expected, will retain an automatic bid for the NCAA basketball tournaments but, with a lineup for season one that includes UCONN, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, South Florida and Central Florida, with one year lame ducks Louisville and Rutgers, the AAC’s power rating will be greatly diminished from that of the old Big East, probably even lower than that of the new Big East.  It’s hard to envision five teams from this league getting Selection Sunday calls.  In year two Rutgers and Louisville, and possibly a third school, will move out with East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa moving in, followed by Navy the year after.  The basketball pinache no longer exists.  Aresco expressed hopes of creating a new conference affiliated bowl game, hoping that eventually the league will have as many as nine bowl tie ins.  The AAC is not a BCS league, it has no automatic BCS berth, and the bowl games it does have affiliations with are the types of bowls that make it difficult for football programs to make a profit.  The existing tie in bowls are carry overs from Big East contracts and at least one, the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in December, is reportedly attempting to get out of it’s contract with the league.  This is not the best time to try establish a new, made for the conference, bowl game, in an already overcrowded landscape in which too many bowl games are played before backgrounds of empty seats.  The attempt to do so may be a sign of desparation on the part of the league.  The AAC is still trying to establish venue contracts for it’s basketball tournaments, with the Mohegan Sun the frontrunner for the women’s event while the XL Center appears to be out of the running for either the men’s or women’s, possibly over league concerns that the team that would be on the host end might be in someone else’s league after year one.  If logo’s alone could insure clear sailing into the future no league in the nation would be on firmer footing than the American Athletic Conference.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.



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