The American Way

The Big East divorce has been less messy than confusing. It started when West Virginia left for the Big 12. It ended when Syracuse and Pitt left for the ACC. In between Boise State, San Diego State, Navy, Memphis, Temple, and the entire Patriot League were announced as members, partial members, lacrosse members, sorta kinda partner members.

But when Syracuse and Pitt left, that's when all the eggs got broken. Shortly afterwards, Notre Dame announced that it would be following Syracuse and Pitt. Then Louisville jumped on board. And the Big East fell apart.

The seven Catholic schools purchased the name the Big East, leaving the remaining teams to either bail completely or form a new conference.

Many chose the new conference, and they did it the American way: with focus groups.

Yesterday, the new conference released a statement. Part of it read: “We worked with our institutions, sports marketing experts, media partners, and also solicited opinions and reactions from collegiate sports fans to create a compelling list of names. Versions that included the word 'American' led every list. American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our reinvented Conference."

The American Athletic Conference it is. It's not horrible. It's just bland. It's boring. Most of all, it's safe. In true focus group fashion they even gave themselves a nickname. They don't want to called the AAC (the Ack) or the A-A-C. They want to be called "The American."

Of course they do.

So who is in the American? Unfortunately, it's brand of basketball is going to be about as exciting as it's new name.

They'll have Louisville Cardinals and the Rutgers Scarlet Scandals, but only for a year. The real members are UConn, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple, and UCF. Then they're adding East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa in 2014, and Navy in 2015.

This, of course, is the lineup before any of the other schools make a run for it. So they may want to keep that focus group handy.