At the end of last week, AAC commissioner Mike Aresco admitted that it was very likely that the Big 12 would be expanding, and looking to pull from his conference to add to its ranks. In his opening remarks at AAC Media Day Tuesday morning, he was not shy about addressing the topic on everyone's mind.
"I cannot stand here this morning and ignore the recent Big 12 news regarding realignment," he said. "Although I want to address it at the outset, I am not going to dwell on it... Big 12 expansion, if it happens, and it appears probable, will again change the landscape of collegiate athletics and may well have an impact on our conference."
He quickly pivoted to a discussion on the strength of the conference, which has done well in its short time in existence.
"As presently constituted, The American is a Power 6 conference and has earned that designation. We have been incredibly competitive, and the fact that virtually all of our schools are the main focus of realignment speaks to our strength, speaks volumes about us."
Aresco has always been eager to promote the growth and accomplishments of the American, it's part of the job description, and he goes on for a while about them in this speech as well, but he's also not shying away from reality. The Big 12 is probably expanding, and it will take at least one school from his conference, likely more.
UConn athletic director David Benedict obviously could not comment on specifics, choosing to decline a question as to whether or not he and Susan Herbst made a trip to Texas in addition to a few other probing questions, but did offer some commentary on UConn's approach and position in this race to the "power five" life raft.
"We feel we have what we need to continue to move forward in the process," he said. "Obviously, they've made some comments recently as to how they're going to approach moving forward. I'm sure [Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby] will go about his business and present whatever information that he collects to the presidents and they'll make a great decision for the conference ultimately whatever that is."
Benedict has spoken confidently throughout this process, and for all we know something has already been agreed upon in principle, as the Big 12 is reportedly hoping to make this decision before the 2016 football season starts.
Diaco and Benedict were also on the same page about the possibility of playing football games in New York City. This opportunity should be enticing for any conference looking to build its #brand in the largest media market in the nation.
"I don't see any downside," Diaco said. "We know that UConn Nation will come."
"There's been work, and there's been some conversations," Benedict shared. "I think that that's something that certainly we've got to look at as an opportunity. I think the New York market certainly is important to us in a lot of different ways. We've got a lot of alums there and it's an opportunity to put ourselves on a national stage and potentially attract opponents to play us in that kind of environment that we might not be able to play otherwise...
"That's something that we definitely will be looking at as we move forward."
Move forward you say? To where, David? #Big12Confirmed?