Gone is the Big East we knew and were luke warm at best about. That's a basketball led conference now, but for those non "Catholic 7" schools and some new members it's time to say hello to a new conference. Late on Wednesday commissioner of the once known as Big East, Mike Aresco, announced the new conference would be know as the American Athletic Conference.
No logo was announced with the name change and most had assumed the name would be "American 12," but thankfully the conference did the smartest thing possible and got outside of using numerical monikers for it's new conference.
”Versions that included the word ‘American’ led every list,” Aresco said in a statement. ”American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our re-invented conference.”
Re-invented is the right term as membership will change quite drastically, not just because the non-football members of the old Big East are gone. Off to the ACC this season are Pitt, Syracuse, and Notre Dame (a non-football playing member) with Louisville soon to follow.
The new league will have different makeup's until they finally settle in on their full membership in 2015 when they will have 12 members and split into two as-yet-named or made up divisions. Here are the different stages of membership for the conference: (new members in bold)
2013: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, Temple, UCF, USF
2014: Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF, USF
2015: Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF, USF
Of course we couldn't go a whole announcement wit the obligatory nod to fan social media response and those ever so reliable focus groups or their TV partners of ESPN and CBS. Thankfully those groups didn't completely suck it up and screw it up in this naming process.
Overall the newly re-branded league has done the smart thing by avoiding the numerical trap other leagues have fallen into and also avoiding any resemblance to it's old heritage by not using the terms "Big" or "East" and while the AAC may take some getting used to, it at least is something we can all easily remember and allows it to be flexible in this ever changing landscape of college conference membership. Now, if they could just be anything other than an after thought in college football going forward, huh?