There has been speculation as to whether the American Athletic Conference would try to land a 12-team and continue to play with two divisions with a Championship game? On Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Mike Aresco made clear that the 12-team conference isn’t necessary and divisions will be going away.
Appearing on Memphis sports adio station 92.9 FM ESPN, Aresco told their afternoon show that the conference that is home to USF and UCF will no longer split into two six team divisions after 2019:
AAC commissioner Mike Aresco says on Giannotto and Jeffrey @929espn that the AAC is planning to get rid of divisions in football starting next season. League is applying for a waiver so the football championship game will pit AAC's two best teams.
— Mark Giannotto (@mgiannotto) August 27, 2019
This decision is necessitated by the departure of the UConn Huskies from the American back to their previous conference, the Big East starting next fall. That is leaving the American with an odd number (11) of teams after this year.
We wrote previously about what the possible scenarios would be for the American to keep its important Conference Championship game, which the UCF Knights have hosted and won the last two years over the Memphis Tigers.
The American has two very real concerns at the forefront on 12 members and keeping the title game:
First, ESPN could alter the newly announced 12 year deal that is supposed to represent at least $7 million in revenue per school annually. That deal has a clause that says, if the AAC loses a member(s), then the rights fee can be decreased by the network.
Further, the NCAA has mandated that in order for the conference to play a championship game, which the American has had for the last four years, it must have 12 schools or play an equal round robin schedule.
Obviously, the AAC cannot equally play a round-robin schedule with 11 teams with only nine conference games and that’s where Aresco is describing applying for a waiver, if they do not play in divisions.
If the conference reverses course and chooses to expand, there is a logical 12th member.
It seems a simple solution would be to invite UAB, which brought back FBS football two years ago and won the Conference USA Championship game and its bowl game in 2018. The Blazers also have a solid men’s basketball program, as well.
Plus, Birmingham is a significant television market and is in the Southeast footprint with other programs like Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina, and the Bulls and the Knights. All of those American programs have also been previously in Conference USA with the Blazers.
Former Gators kicker Pineiro is Chicago hero- for now
Every week in the NFL there are heroes in the clutch for different franchises. However, in a market like Chicago with the rabid, massive following like the Chicago Bears, when you do something dramatic to help them win everything is taken up to a new level.
That’s something that new kicker, and former Florida Gator Eddy Pineiro, is experiencing after his dramatic game-winning 53 yard field goal with no time left in Denver Sunday gave the Bears a 16-14 win.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 15, 2019
First, it looked as though the Bears had blown the game when they allowed Denver’s Joe Flacco to lead a last-minute scoring drive that resulted in a dramatic touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders with :31 seconds left. And, then, the two hooked up on the go ahead two-point conversion to Sanders for 14 – 13 lead.
But undaunted, the Bears, led by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, got into scoring position on a 25-yard completion to the Broncos 25 to Allen Robinson with just :01 remaining.
That’s when Pineiro, who had kicked two lengthy field goals earlier in the game, stepped on the Mile High turf and calmly, with 80,000 Bronco fans going berserk, booted home a line drive game-winner to make the Bears 1 – 1.
As we wrote earlier this month, Pineiro, a second year player, had won the Bears kicking job coming out of preseason. Pineiro won the spot over Elliott Fry by hitting a 58-yard field goal against the Colts, followed by another 3-for-3 against the Titans in August.
And Gators fans will remember the Miami native having a good college career at Florida. He made 17/18 FG’s during the Gators miserable 2017 season. And combined with his 21/25 the year before, he totaled an 88% field goal career mark.
Pineiro declared for the 2018 NFL Draft after only two seasons with the Gators, but went undrafted. He signed as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders in May of 2018, however, he was placed on injured reserve last September. Earlier this summer, he was traded to the Chicago Bears in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Finally, let’s keep in perspective that we are not talking Chicago icon status like: Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks and Patrick Kane have.
Still, it was a large moment early in his tenuous Bears kicking career and Pineiro is celebrating, like he should.
Many state fans still without ACC Network
ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference launched the 24-hour ACC television network in the middle of last month. But for all of the fanfare and build up, there are still hundreds of thousands of football fans in the state of Florida who are without the channel headed into the first weekend of September.
And now, that’s about to be problematic with a scheduled Saturday triple-header of games that will involve FSU, the Miami Hurricanes and the USF Bull’s all being televised, exclusively on the channel.
Now, the ACC and ESPN announced Thursday night a deal with Cox Communications, which serves a good portion of the state and will obviously make their customers happy:
— The ACC (@theACC) September 4, 2019
The ACC, led by Commissioner John Swofford (above), also previously announced a deal with Spectrum Communications to carry the ACC Network. That is a significant amount of coverage in Florida.
And, the ACCN is also available through satellite services like DirecTV and Dish. Plus, it’s available on streaming services like Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV for individual fees.
However, while the ACC and ESPN continue to update new deals being done with providers, customers with Comcast / Xfinity, Frontier Communications and AT&T U-verse are still waiting for the channel. And, those outlets represent hundreds of thousands of college football fans in the combined markets of Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.
Fans in those markets with those providers already missed last Thursday night’s opener with #1 Clemson and Georgia Tech, were without last Saturday’s ACCN games, and more importantly, possibly won’t to see their favorite school on the triple header Saturday.
That starts with USF at Georgia Tech at 2 p.m., followed by Florida State hosting Louisiana-Monroe and capped Saturday night by Miami’s opening conference game at North Carolina.
All to be shown exclusively, on the ACCN.
The crux of the problem is the amount of money that ESPN is looking to recoup from each individual customer of the provider. It is the same model that they have followed previously with the SEC Network and with their biggest channels like ESPN and ESPN2.
ESPN and the SEC had much more leverage five years ago at the launch of that television network with a much more rabid following. The SEC Network was picked up by every major provider in the state of Florida before games were ever played in the 2014 season.
Again, ESPN and the conference are negotiating non-stop and may very well get deals with the above major providers that are still holding out. But, it’s entirely possible that when the Noles, the Canes and the Bulls hit the field Saturday many of their fans in the state will not be able to see it, on TV, an app, nothing.
You’ve been warned.
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