The Big 12 is expanding. Most every college football knows this and is expecting it to happen. Every school from BYU to the entire American Athletic, even ECU, has put on their best dress and is trying to woo the Big 12 into taking them home and throw gobs of money at them. With the Big 12 wanting to get this done before the season starts in a month, the process has been shifted into turbo drive.
Mike Aresco has seen expansion in its cruelest form as commissioner. The dissolution of the old Big East as a football entity and emergence of the American Athletic in its place, in a matter of speaking, was a shock to the college football landscape.
In an interview with GridironNow.com, Aresco has conceded that expansion will hit his league yet again.
"In these situations, communication is critical," said Aresco, who was a long-time television executive before getting into college administration. "I’ve been talking to the (athletic directors) and the president of the schools that might leave, and it looks like some of them will. We’re talking to each other and trying to figure out the future. We expect everyone who leaves will leave on good terms."
"Some of them will." A lot can be drawn from that statement, most notably that it appears likely the Big 12 will expand by four teams and not just two.
The question becomes will the American Athletic lose two, three or four teams? Two might be okay as it leaves the league at 10, a point Aresco brings up, but three or four could mean the dominoes begin tumbling and the AAC needs to shore up their membership.
Despite whatever outcome, Aresco is confident.
"Right now, we’re shadow boxing a little because we don’t know what is going to happen," he said. "But have already started our contingency planning for just about every scenario. Whatever happens, we’ll have a plan. We’ll be fine."
There are scores of scenarios that could happen, but it seems like Aresco is doing his due diligence. This could also help his league in the long run as the current members are bound to a $10 million exit fee with a 27-month wait period. Any early exit, which seems like a certainty, would likely include a bigger payout to the league. Exit fees helped the AAC during the first couple years post Big East breakup.
For a man who use to work in TV and called the negotiations with the new Big East (the core being the "Catholic Seven" basketball-only schools who defected together) the toughest he's ever dealt with, the American seems to be in good hands despite what happens.