News began to spread Friday night, mostly from non-reputable sources, that UConn was interested in joining the Big East. And this time the interest was mutual and things were being worked out behind the scenes.
Saturday morning, the rumors hit a crescendo, especially online on the twitterverse.
Which of course leads to larger implications for the conference as a whole.
Of course, nothing official since the Big East still has to vote on it. But the fact that it’s making it’s way around suggests that we are pretty close to it actually happening. When ESPN and other major news outlets start to pick it up, it’s likely close to being official.
The ESPN report is found in the hyperlink.
What Is The Future
For UConn, the move makes sense. In the AAC they have no regional rival, no recruiting advantages of a big conference name, and most importantly, they can’t sell tickets to home games against Tulsa (no offense to Tulsa). By transitioning to the Big East, they once again reestablishe regional rivalries with Providence, Xavier, Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, and Seton Hall. We can go on all day about the pros and cons about the move, but the Big East adds a national title winner and a big basketball name. The move makes sense, generally, for both parties. This has been talked about on and off over the years with UConn boosters unhappy about the AAC prioritizing football. An empty arena even worse.
For the AAC, it leaves them in familiar territory: searching for a school to add to the conference.
The good news is, the TV deal that was just negotiated will for the most part remain intact, with some “fair negotiating” between the schools and ESPN.
How the AAC responds with it’s new addition, or additions, can also impact the negotiations.
Much speculation will be made for the AAC regarding basketball and football options. UConn football will not be allowed to stay in the AAC, but they don’t appear to be willing to drop down to FCS, just a more appropriate conference like C-USA or the MAC. But without basketball, will other conferences accept them?? Possibly, they have some name cache alone. They may have to go independent as well.
For the AAC, they may make a run at VCU, Dayton, or another basketball only program. As stated this has been on the table for a while and the options were kicked around by the folks at underdogdynasty back in February, and you can click that link for the round table of multiple AAC program affiliated authors.
The gist of it is, no one knows. On one hand it makes sense to add one basketball only and one football only program since the options for adding a school that does well in both is limited. There are some out in the MWC that are worth a look, but it is likely that it will require several of them to come together. Colorado State can’t come by itself. And then there’s BYU, who may have too much pride to say they made the wrong move years ago and transitioning to the AAC is an admittance of failure.
This write likes the idea of Army football and a strong regional basketball mid-major like VCU. Of course, Army may not want to join a conference now that it has found some success as an independent. And then you run into an issue of the Army-Navy game and when to play that. Air Force would make for an interesting addition as well, but would you want to play 2 opponents (Navy/Army or Navy/Air Force) that destroy your defensive lineman’s knees?
At The End of The Day
Mike Aresco must balance program potential, program history, fanbases, and tv eyeballs when considering new additions. The conference was poised for a strong year in basketball and continued upward movement regarding football perception. It is up to him, and the conference ADs, to find a suitable replacement.
The future remains bright for the AAC and that must include it’s new member(s).