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UConn Leaving Is An Opportunity For The American Conference... to Kick Out ECU or Tulsa

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It’s been done before, and with UConn leaving, it’s the right time to do it again.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

UConn’s outta here. It’s the right move for them as they’re the knife in a conference full of 10,000 spoons, and it was a terrible fit from the jump. Imagine trying to recruit good football players in a state full of snow while playing games 45 minutes from campus in a former municipal airport. It wasn’t going to ever work. And that’s totally ok.

Wichita State gets somewhere around 20-25% of the media revenue of every other team in the league, and that’s because not having football means you don’t matter. With the worst defense in college football history last season (literally... THE WORST), UConn didn’t matter.

Go with God, and we’ll miss you on Twitter. And please send that $10 million check quickly (plus an added indulgence for not waiting the bylaw-required 27 months to declare your exit), as we need to get it to the bank before we all move to Dallas to camp out in the lobby of the Big XII offices when they inevitably implode.

So what should the AAC do?

There are some reasonable 12th-team options available. Adding Army would make the Army-Navy Game a league contest (though I’d bet they’ll keep that cash cow revenue separate), but the last time the Black Knights were in a league it was a disaster in Conference USA. UAB has improved their facilities and the love of their market after the city rallied to save the program, and they won C-USA last year. But are they ready for the jump so soon? Plus Birmingham is only the 40th-largest TV market, which ‘Bama & Auburn split the biggest chunk of already.

Anyone from the Sun Belt? With apologies to the great football traditions of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, there are more people that can see me typing this on Tampa’s Howard Avenue than live in your cities, and this is a big-market league. Your athletics budgets reflect this too.

Go west, young conference, and grab a worthy football-only member that’s a geography nightmare? BYU brings a massive fanbase, but incidents of not treating gay students correctly to a league that’s mostly public institutions become a talking point if discussions begin. San Diego State has played winning smash mouth football under Rocky Long, but brings a fraction of the Cougars fan base. Boise State? Already backed out on us once, and even less direct flights.

I floated FAU on Twitter, who brings a new market in a growth area with a committed admin and lots of upside... but like UAB they might not be ready yet either. Their leap might come during the inevitable 2025 realignment.

The point is there’s not a slam dunk option here.

Here’s the other thing: you can’t determine a true champion with 11 teams. That would require either 10 conference games (which in a league that needs guarantee paydays makes no sense), or unbalanced schedules like the B1G did for a couple decades. And with the AAC committed to a conference championship game (which is the right move), it’s going to become a logistical nightmare.

So since 10 is preferable to 12, and because league revenue might be helped by this... it’s time to vote someone off the island. Someone that is bad on the field, doesn’t bring much to the table, and not a lot of market size or upside anytime soon either.

Tulsa and ECU, you have both been nominated. For one of you, your run on P6 Island shall end at the bottom of this page.

This has happened before: Temple once got booted from the Big East for extreme suckage, and Idaho and New Mexico State got Sun Belt’ed out of their league in 2016.

And both these schools won’t have trouble finding a new home, as the Sun Belt or C-USA would come running for either. But if you’re trying to separate yourselves and show you’re closer to the P5 than the G... 4?... , kicking your weakest link to the curb is for sure a #powermove, bro. This is what needs to happen, and sadly the AAC needs to stab a sibling so the family may live more prosperously.

Fellow members of Tribal Council, let’s go to the Tale of The Tape!

The important stuff:

Tulsa: 61st-largest media market. Football record since joining AAC: 23-39 (14-26 AAC).

ECU: 107th-largest media market. Football record since joining AAC: 22-39 (12-28 AAC).

*Not publishing attendance numbers because everyone fakes these, and none of it lines up with the crowd shots at kickoff.* Suffice it to say, ECU sells way more tickets and has way more bodies at games.

Size matters:

Tulsa: 4,300 students, 3,100 undergrad, $1.1 billion endowment (!!)

ECU: 29,000 students, 23,000 undergrad, $185 million endowment

Athletics budget:

Tulsa: Unlisted because private institution, but asked the athletic director, head football coach and basketball coach to take paycuts last year. University ran a $25 million deficit in 2016.

ECU: $48.3 million, but in deficit (took a $20 million loan from the institution late in 2018)

Conference championships:

Tulsa: 17. Men’s Cross Country (5x), Women’s Cross Country (2), Men’s Soccer Tournament (3x), Women’s Tennis (3), Softball (1), Softball Tournament (3).

ECU: 6. Men’s Swimming (3), Baseball (1), Baseball Tournament (2)

Internet presence as a reflection of passion of fanbase:

Tulsa: I’ve covered this league since its inception, and can’t remember ever seeing a Tulsa writer in person. There is no Tulsa blog of which any of us are aware. I’ve never done a sports radio hit in Tulsa, neither has anyone ever that’s written here. If we make fun of Tulsa on Twitter, literally nothing happens in our mentions. They’re the anti-Citrobot.

ECU: There are multiple ECU outlets online, which range between myopic and homerrific. Many of us have done media hits in that market. If we say things about them, they do crazy things like stalk our writers at work. Their fans absolutely believe they should be a Top 20 football team every year despite being the fifth-most popular team in a basketball state. The replies to our favorite conference meme ever often get... frisky. Sometimes they even spell them correctly.

Awful Football Coaches Hired:

Tulsa: Employed Sterlin Gilbert.

ECU: Employed Skip Holtz.

Awful AD’s hired:

Tulsa: N/A

ECU: Jeff Compher made Doug Woolard look like Mal Moore.

Things to do on road trips:

Tulsa: Hard Rock Casino

ECU: ... Cookout??

Man. It’s REALLY close here!

My head says Tulsa because of market size and upside, but I’ve never been called a “moran” by anyone on Twitter from them either, and that’s been a Pirates specialty because there are so many more of them. Tulsa wins more stuff, but they draw flies when they do. At least ECU’s fanbase still exists despite extreme sucking on and off the field.

It’s time to vote, fellow AAC Islanders: What’s the best way to handle this addition by subtraction? TWO TEAMS ENTER, ONE TEAM LEAVES:

Poll

Who should get kicked out of the AAC?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Tulsa
    (536 votes)
  • 27%
    ECU
    (206 votes)
742 votes total Vote Now