The American Athletic Conference has made it clear that they have no intention to replace UConn. That is at least for now, according to Commissioner Mike Aresco speaking Tuesday morning at the “AAC Football Kickoff.”
Arisco told the assembled conference and national media that with the Huskies leaving after this athletic year to return to the Big East, the American will not actively seek to replace them. Instead, they will attempt to play with 11 teams moving forward starting with the 2020 football season:
Mike Aresco alludes to "recent events," says the AAC is "comfortable" with 11 members in football and 12 in basketball. No plans to replace UConn.
— Alex Putterman (@AlexPutterman) July 16, 2019
The complication in not replacing UConn is that it leaves the American with an odd number of teams (11). Further, it jeopardizes their Conference football championship game that they’ve played for each of the last four seasons. UCF has won the last two of them.
The American sees a financial windfall from the top seeded school hosting the title game and it’s also part of ESPN’s new 12 year billion dollar television deal that they announced earlier this year with the conference. It’s still not completely clear what the financial ramifications of not having a 12th member or having the title game to televise will be.
Unless the American can somehow obtain a waiver from the NCAA, they will have to either have to meet the 12 Football member requirement or have an even number of members that are playing a round robin format similar to what the 1o teams in the Big XII, currently.
The mathematical reality is that unless the American were to go to an unrealistic 10-game conference schedule, they cannot have an evenly rotated round-robin form. The conference currently plays eight league games a year.
It is believed that UAB in Birmingham, Alabama, would be the lowest logical choice to add as a 12th all sports member to the AAC, because of their regional proximity to other members like Tulane, Memphis, East Carolina, USF and UCF.
And, all of those schools have previously been in an Athletic Conference with UAB, as well.
Colts Kicker Adam Vinateri out for Bucs game
The Colts are traveling to Tampa Bay but will likely take on the Bucs without their future Hall of Fame Kicker, Adam Vinatieri.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2019
Before the matchup last week against the Titans, Vinatieri had began to experience a bit of pain in his left knee, the leg he plants to kick with his right leg. He told reporters that the pain began to increase through the week which led him to be placed on the Colt’s injury report for the first time this season.
Later Friday afternoon, Indy made Vinatieri’s “out” status official:
Per Coach Reich, RB Marlon Mack and WR Parris Campbell are expected to play Sunday.
More on who's in and who's out for #INDvsTB:
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 6, 2019
Vinatieri who is currently the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, has struggled to be consistent this season and has made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts. He’s cost the Colt’s a couple of games in his missed eight field goals and six extra points.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that Vinatieri saw some doctors and got scans to figure out the severity of the problem. From there, they’ll consult with doctors and make a decision, which could potentially end his career. He’s currently sitting at 599 made FGs in his 24 seasons, just one shy of the 600 mark.
Earlier this week, Indianapolis secured rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers and the 45 year old Pro Bowler had said on Thursday that if he got the go ahead from everyone, he’d take the field on Sunday.
“Docs and trainers and everybody will put their two cents in and we’ll see if we can go,” Vinatieri said. “If I can go, I’ll go.”
Obviously, he did not get good news, and that means the rookie McLaughlin is in to kick at Raymond James Stadium.
The Colts are looking to stay in the race for the AFC wild card spot, in a similar situation as the Bucs, so this Sunday (and really every Sunday from here on out) is a do or die for both teams.
Florida follows California’s lead on paying college athletes
California is blue. Florida is red. The two states now share the same outlook on college athletes gaining more green.
In late September, California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, signed Senate Bill 206, allowing college athletes to profit from sales of their name, image and likeness, and to retain scholarships even while signing endorsement deals with companies and earning added income.
The legislation does not allow schools to directly pay athletes, but it does enable athletes to venture into commercial activity, effective in 2023. The NCAA has a few years, then, to adjust to the current reality. So far, it has opposed SB 206.
Would another state – especially a high-profile one with a large recruiting pool – follow California’s lead? Florida, though led by a Republican governor, has done just that.
On Thursday, as reported by Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his support of legislation to enable college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.
It is significant that a big recruiting-magnet state such as Florida joined California. It is also significant that a Republican governor expressed (rare) agreement with deep-blue California’s efforts, creating a bipartisan dimension to support for this particular policy.
DeSantis (above) said California is on “the right track” with its legislation. He said that if Florida’s legislature can pass this legislation, the NCAA might need “to reevaluate” its position on the matter.
“I’m confident those issues can be addressed in a way that will maintain college athletics as really special thing but also provide the ability for our student athletes to be able to benefit just like anybody else would be able to benefit,” DeSantis said.
The bipartisan nature of this effort in Florida was affirmed by the fact that Florida Representative Kionne McGhee, the state’s House Democratic minority leader, filed one of the bills DeSantis supports. Rep. McGhee appeared with DeSantis on Thursday in a public show of cross-party unity.
Rep Kionne McGhee about House proposal to allow college athletes to be paid: “We’re tired of the hypocrisy in the classroom” where students are taught about capitalism but not allow access to the free market
— james call (@CallTallahassee) October 24, 2019
California is often seen as an example of what NOT to do by Republicans in particular and conservatives in general. Thursday’s news represents an exception to that reality.
It offers an interesting new plot twist in the way this larger set of issues is perceived in collegiate athletics.