As Florida football can attest to, the American Athletic Conference is decent enough that an SEC team can’t just jog out onto the field and automatically win. We here at Hail Florida Hail are well aware that UCF beat Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl.
Congrats on your Super Bowl.
But as the landscape of college football is changing once again with the expanded playoffs starting in 2024, the AAC announced yesterday that they would be dropping one of their branding monikers that was never rooted in reality.
Florida Football: It’s Power Five for a reason
Commissioner Mike Aresco wrote an open letter titled “An Open Letter on Power 5 – Group of 5 Branding.” In it, he whines and moans that the term Power Five is a “media-created term” and that the teams in the Power Five are a “self-selected group based mainly on financial clout, with no set of competitive metrics defining it.”
As we know, the AAC has tried to brand itself as equal to the Power Five conferences by using the label “P6” and Commissioner Aresco goes on to say later in his letter that “The American has mocked the P5 label by proving its ability on the football field. We have played 186 games against P5 schools and Notre Dame since 2013, and as this demonstrates, our football scheduling has had us already firmly ensconced in the P5 world and competing at an elite level.”
There is just one slight problem with his assertion. You can pick out anecdotal examples of AAC teams knocking off Power Five teams and use that as proof that the AAC is just as equal to the other schools.
Florida football lost to UCF and barely beat USF. Tulane beat Southern Cal. Cinncinnatti beat Notre Dame.
But the metrics as a whole do not support this claim that the AAC from top to bottom has been better than any of the other conferences from top to bottom.
We’ll start with recruiting. UCF led the way for the AAC in the class of 2023 with the 50th-best class nationally.
Northwestern has a better recruiting class than that.
For the class of 2022, it was Cincinnati with the 42nd-best class.
Boston College beat that.
And the lack of talent in the AAC compared to the Power Five does show up on the field more times than not.
Since the inception of the conference in 2013, the AAC has the following record against the Power Five:
- SEC – 11 wins and 29 losses
- Big Ten – 11 wins and 27 losses
- ACC – 23 wins and 43 losses
- Big 12 – 9 wins and 28 losses
- Pac 12 – 6 wins and 3 losses
So maybe the AAC can make the claim they are better than the Pac 12, and in fact, they have won six of the last seven games between the two conferences, though three of the AAC wins came over UCLA.
Raise the banner if you wish. But no, your “football scheduling has had us already firmly ensconced in the P5 world and competing at an elite level,” not because of your superior play. You are firmly ensconced in the P5 world because your schools needed a paycheck.
With expanded playoffs, the AAC will get their opportunity and will hopefully put to bed this silly moniker that they are equal.
Because for most teams in the SEC, it requires being at their worst for even the best of the AAC to have a chance.