Let the evolution begin

Newport, R.I.

This is about evolution. This is about time and space, precious concepts that do not beget convenience, but always reveal the truth. This is going to be Darwinism on synthetic turf.

Remember that word: evolution. This is going to take time. Time that the new American Athletic Conference, UConn's new digs, might not have in the college sports carousel. And yet only through time and the compilation of evidence will "The American," as it fancies itself, prove worthy of the big boy table.

"The American" held its inaugural football Media Day on Tuesday, on occasion for media members to do what they now do best: theorize about things that haven't happened. Or in this case: have never happened. That's right. Never. Nothing has ever happened in the entire history of the American Athletic Conference.

Which makes any predictions - Pollyannaish or pessimistic - patently absurd. The league has no history whatsoever. None. So unless we're Kreskin, how do any of us really know anything?

Answer: We don't, other than the obvious warts: no history to provide any frame of reference, an imperiled BCS slot and more limited revenues than the power conferences. Still, the league offers some decent media markets (Dallas, Philadelphia and UConn's tentacles to New York and Boston) fertile recruiting areas (Texas, Florida), name coaches (Tommy Tuberville, George O'Leary, June Jones) and a well-connected commissioner, Mike Aresco, who knows where the bodies are buried in television, thanks to his previous life as the Executive Vice President of Programming at CBS Sports.

The irony about Tuesday's event is that the smartest thing anyone said about the AAC didn't even come at Tuesday's event.

It came from Tim Brando, who hosts a radio show on Sirius XM's College Sports Nation:

"It's easier to take shots than it is to do your homework," Brando said. "There's not enough knowledge about the league than for people to do anything else but diss it."

Indeed, we don't know the AAC's identity. But its teams will have a chance to create it. And what's that line about first impressions?

So here's a question: What if the AAC parlays some success on the field with Aresco's vision to break down doors for entry into "Division IV," or the potential subdivision that would give high-resource schools their own set of rules?

Aresco said Tuesday the AAC wants in. Do AAC schools have the means? We don't know. But here's a line from Jeremy Fowler's column on CBSSports.com:

"Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock told CBSSports.com the league's athletic directors and coaches met with the conference Monday and AAC schools are prepared to do whatever is necessary," Fowler wrote.

"I don't want to make it sound like it's a fait accompli," Aresco said about Division IV. "But on the other hand, we'd all be naive if we didn't realize that certainly it's a possibility and we have to get ahead of it and we have to address it and we have to be firm about it.

"In my case I'm an advocate for our conference because I firmly believe if a division like that does materialize, we need to be in it. It's important for obviously the well-being and future prestige of our conference, and we feel that our conference clearly has the benchmarks and the measurements to be included if it does develop."

Aresco's flag waving, understandable given his position, is presumptuous, given the AAC's dearth of history. But wouldn't it be a hoot if on the road to exploring the financial possibilities, the AAC earned itself some cachet on the field?

Think about the opportunities:

Cincinnati: Go beat Purdue, Northwestern and Illinois.

Houston: Go beat BYU.

UConn: Go beat Michigan and Maryland.

SMU: Go beat Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU.

South Florida: Go beat Michigan State and Miami.

Central Florida: Go beat Penn State and South Carolina.

Temple: Go beat Notre Dame.

(Rutgers and Louisville have been omitted from consideration because they're headed elsewhere after this season. But their contributions wouldn't hurt).

Obviously, most of those won't happen. But what if a few of them happen? And other games are close? And athletic directors from power conferences see full stadiums in places like Texas and Florida?

What, I can't ask?

It could even start here. There's no commandment that prohibits a butt from being affixed to every seat at Rentschler Field this season. Have you any idea how important football attendance is to UConn's future? Have you?

Meantime, the AAC begins its evolution this fall. Survival of the fittest? Survival of the richest? Stay tuned.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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