The American Athletic Conference has secured the Group of Five’s bid to the New Year’s Six bowl games in three of the first five years (winning twice) of the College Football Playoff era but the league is apparently still searching for something even more elusive: respect.
Yes, cue the Rodney Dangerfield line about not getting any but that seems to be the driving force behind some of commissioner Mike Aresco’s comments this week. The conference currently has three ranked teams and has enjoyed an impressive amount of success so far in 2019 but the driving force behind the AAC’s bid to be a “Power 6” league still doesn’t think they are getting their due.
“I would much rather not be a one-horse or a two-horse league,” Aresco told The Athletic. “I want to see a lot of really good teams. I want to see our league develop that strength of schedule where we’re respected. That’s more important than getting that New Year’s bid. That doesn’t mean the bid isn’t important. We obviously want to get it and play those top teams. … It’s important to get that bid, not only the financial part, but the exposure on New Year’s Day. But it’s more important to have what is perceived as the best G5 conference, and I think that’s what we’ve had since the beginning of this whole thing.”
Aresco probably isn’t wrong on that latter point, as the AAC has been a lot more consistent than peers like the Mountain West or MAC. The former has put together a very strong campaign this year and might be in the driver’s seat for the New Year’s Six bid however, with Boise State being the highest ranked Group of Five team at the moment. The MWC also has a national best eight Power Five wins on their resume as well.
It remains to be seen how it will all shake out given that there’s so much of the season left but something says this won’t be the only comments to come out of Providence from Aresco as the race to nab an invite to the Cotton Bowl this year looks tighter than ever