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UCF AD thinks new AAC TV deal will be ‘on par’ with Power 6

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The offseason of UCF athletic director Danny White continues.

No, this isn’t another article about the Knights’ being national champions or releasing marketing studies or anything, even, to do with the upcoming season. No, this has to do with his conference’s upcoming television deal. The AAC’s rights expire after the 2019-20 season as is typically the case with such deals, negotiations for what happens starting in 2020 are going to commence in the coming months.

Per The Athletic’s Chris Vannini, those current deals with ESPN and CBS pay the league around $21 million a year and many around conference are expecting a big jump soon in the payouts.

“I don’t know how the first five years of our conference could have gone any better, with across-the-board success, particularly in football,” White said. “Whether you look at television ratings, competitive success, New Year’s Day bowl wins, we’ve way outperformed.

“I think our current deal is way undervalued, and everybody understands that. We’re all really confident we’ll get a much more significant television deal that puts us on par with where we should be, with the Power 6 conferences.”

Ok then.

While the AAC and those in the league continue to push that they are on par with the other Power Five conferences, that simply isn’t the case when you look at everything from actual NCAA governance to the cold hard cash each league receives. Even the much discussed Pac-12 Networks is contributing more to the conference’s schools than the $21 million the AAC receives and the league itself falls far short of its peers when it comes to total revenue. In 2016-17 alone, AAC revenue dropped below $75 million compared to over $500 million for the Pac-12, SEC and Big Ten each. Even in the Big 12, Texas alone takes in nearly as much TV revenue from the Longhorn Network (roughly $15 million a year) as the entire AAC does.

Given that the original deals were signed in 2013 with ESPN and CBS back when realignment was going crazy, White is absolutely correct in his assessment that  the current deal is a little undervalued and a solid increase is in the cards for the league in the not-to-distant future. But as far as that winding up coming close to what the Power Five are bringing in? It seems like a stretch to say the least.

AAC conference office moving from Providence to Dallas area in two years

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It’s all quiet on the conference realignment front but at least one conference is realigning where its offices are located.

The American Athletic Conference (AAC) has been based in Providence, Rhode Island ever since it split from the Big East back in 2013 but will be packing their bags for the Dallas area in two years when, the Dallas Morning News reports, their lease expires on their current office space.

“Dallas has become almost the epicenter of college football. I’ve made no bones about it, we’re planning to move our conference offices here,” commissioner Mike Aresco told the paper. “We think we belong closer to more of our schools. We’ve got a school (SMU) here, which means people are coming in all the time.”

Aresco isn’t wrong about Dallas being the epicenter of college football (though Atlanta would have a good argument) between the annual season-opening games at AT&T Stadium, the Cotton Bowl, several FBS teams in the area and a host of important groups based nearby. That includes the College Football Playoff, Conference USA, the Big 12 and the National Football Foundation, who are all based in North Texas and have their main offices located fairly close together near the suburb of Irving.

The move follows the league’s journey westward after a few rounds of expansion and will definitely make travel a little bit easier for everybody throughout the conference. While they will be going from one edge of AAC territory to another, it’s certainly more convenient to get to Dallas than into Providence and the league is already putting several events like the men’s basketball tournament in the region.

Perhaps the biggest unanswered question from all of this will be if the AAC keeps its famous clambake that kicks off media day every football season. Perhaps Tulane and the Texas schools have already mentioned transitioning the event to a crawfish boil.

Tulane adds South Alabama grad transfer Noah Fisher

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Transfers from one Group of Five program to another are relatively few and far between, but we do have one on which to report today.

Tulane announced on its Twitter account Wednesday that it has added Noah Fisher to the Green Wave’s football roster. Fisher had spent the past four seasons as a member of the Sun Belt Conference’s South Alabama Jaguars.

As the 6-5, 315-pound offensive lineman is coming to the AAC program as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2018. The upcoming season will be Fisher’s final season of eligibility.

Fisher started 27 games during his time with the Jaguars, and left the team with a streak of 25 straight starts. This past season, he served as USA’s starting left tackle after starting at right tackle the previous season.

Tulane extends Willie Fritz through 2023

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Major news on the Kansas football front came down the pike Tuesday when Tulane announced it has extended head coach Willie Fritz through 2023.

Wait, what? Let’s back up a bit.

Kansas fired AD Sheahon Zenger on Monday, citing that a “change in leadership is necessary” because “progress in key areas has been elusive.” While Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod did not come out and say this move was related to football, he did feel the need to mention head coach David Beaty in his release announcing Zenger’s firing. “In addition, earlier today I spoke with Coach Beaty and shared my expectation that he will continue recruiting hard and getting his team ready for the season,” Girod said.

It doesn’t take Leonardo DiCaprio to read Girod’s thoughts here. Beaty is 3-33 in three seasons as KU’s head coach, including a 1-26 mark in Big 12 play. Coaches that average a win a year don’t typically last until Year 5. Just last year, Nebraska cleared out its AD so the new AD could fire the existing football coach and hire a new one, and it appears Kansas is headed down the same path later this year.

With Beaty apparently on his way out, I tweeted on Monday where Kansas should direct its incoming search.

Fritz-to-Kansas makes sense on a number of levels. Fritz is a proven program builder, a more-with-less guy that won at Blinn Junior College, Central Missouri, Sam Houston State, Georgia Southern and, now, Tulane. Overall, Fritz is 202-89-1 with two junior college national titles and conference championships in three separate leagues — all at places that have no business posting a collective .693 winning percentage. Simply put, Kansas is the rebuild job of the century, and there is not a more proven general contractor than Fritz.

And even better for Kansas, Fritz seems likely to take the job. He’s a Sunflower State native and at an age — 58 — where he’d likely take any Power 5 job offer that came his way, lest it be the last one.

All that said, it did not seem a coincidence that Tulane announced an extension for Fritz on Tuesday, who is 9-15 in two seasons with the Green Wave.

“I couldn’t be more excited with the direction in which our football program is headed,” Fritz said in a statement. “It is an absolute joy to coach at this institution. We have total buy-in from everyone on our staff to our administration, and I know we have a bright future.”

With Tulane being a private school, financial terms were not disclosed, but the key number will be the buyout.

Of course, Fritz could also pass on a potential Kansas offer. Or he may not get an offer. Or the job may not open at all. But even the prospect of an offer has already turned into a win for him.

Vanderbilt transfer originally committed to Tulane reverses course, heads to UCF instead

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Welp, so much for that.

In mid-December, Bailey Granier (pictured, No. 75) announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from Vanderbilt to Tulane after graduating. However, on the same social media site this month, Granier revealed that, instead of Tulane, he would instead be transferring to UCF to finish out his collegiate playing career.

The offensive lineman, who attended the Green Wave’s spring game this year, gave no specific reason for the about-face.

Granier played in 27 games during his time with the Commodores, starting five of those contest during that time. All of those starts came at right tackle — two this past season, three in 2015.