1 WISH YOU WERE HERE
The AAC won the Fiesta Bowl and both the men’s and women’s basketball championships last season, but the fact is, it’s not a power conference on the same level with the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12. The AAC will at least attempt not to be left behind. One big plus — no other conference matches Newport as a media days site. It’s a great draw for those the league wants to impress.
2 BOWLED UNDER
While the league champion certainly will be a frontrunner for the “Group of Five” berth in the Peach, Cotton or Fiesta Bowls, the AAC lineup of bowl ties is less than stellar. Blame it on the uncertain state of the conference two years ago when the current bowl contracts were signed. But having your champion potentially playing the eighth or ninth-best team from a power conference is not the best way to get noticed.
3 STATEMENT DAY
SMU coach June Jones gained attention recently when he said that the Group of Five schools should consider moving their seasons to the spring. Though Jones conceded it’s impractical, he was making the point that the gap between haves and have-nots threatens to widen. “This conference has the chance to make a statement,” he said. “And that statement is winning games against teams from those other leagues.”
4 TIMES A-CHANGING AT TULANE
When Tulane gained entry into what was then the Big East, the school had to make across-the-board upgrades. That’s being done. Yulman Stadium is one. The contract extension for Curtis Johnson was another. Not so obvious are increased staffing, such as more people on the support side. It’s unlikely that Tulane will ever be considered the flagship school of the league. But neither will it be a laughingstock.