In a recently published article by CBSSports writer Dennis Dodd, he talks to the extremely vocal NIU AD, Sean Frazier. In this article, his point is very clear. The AAC is not a power conference.
“That’s the reason they don’t have a [Power Five designation] now is those teams have not historically been good in football. That’s why there is a Big East basketball and American in football. [The market] looked at the football, and they were horrible.”
He also mentions that there is not enough evidence to say that the AAC is a true power conference. While I see his point, I am going to argue against this sentiment. I am going to supply Sean Frazier with the evidence he needs to see that the Power 6 movement is real. Here are some key AAC stats that prove the worthiness of this conference, since its inception, in 2013:
- The first major point stat of emphasis is the major bowl game wins. Since 2013, the AAC has played in and won 3 major bowl games (UCF in 2014 and 2018, Houston 2015). The fact of the matter is multiple teams from these seasons could have gone on to qualify and win major bowl games. Take this past season for example. USF and Memphis were just as poised as UCF to win against Auburn in the Peach Bowl, despite losing to UCF.
- The next point of emphasis would naturally be that AAC beaten any Power conference teams. The answer is a resounding yes with success coming against both the bottom-feeders and the cream of the crap from the P5. Here are the P6 wins year by year:
- 2013: Cincy over Purdue, Louisville over Kentucky, UCF over Penn State, Rutgers over Arkansas, Louisville over Miami (FL), and UCF over Baylor.
- 2014: Temple over Vanderbilt, ECU over VA Tech, Memphis over BYU, and Houston over Pitt
- 2015: Temple over Penn State, Houston over Louisville, Memphis over Kansas, ECU over VA Tech (again), Cincy over Miami (FL), USF over Syracuse, Memphis over Ole Miss, Houston over Vanderbilt, Navy over Pitt, and Houston over FSU.
- 2016: Houston over Oklahoma, Cincy over Purdue, ECU over NC State, UConn over Virginia, Memphis over Kansas, USF over Syracuse, Navy over Notre Dame, Houston over Louisville, USF over South Carolina.
- 2017: Memphis over UCLA, UCF over Maryland, USF over Illinois, ECU over BYU, USF over Texas Tech, Navy over Virginia, UCF over Auburn
Note: I’ll save you the counting up the amount of wins that the AAC has over the P6 teams. The AAC has 36 wins over power conferences since 2013. This is extremely impressive as that is an average of 7 games won against a power conference, per season. Keep in mind, I did not include AAC wins over fellow conference members, despite them being ranked in the top 25. The teams below were all in the Top 25 at some point from 2013 to present.
Teams ranked in the Top 25: Cincy, Louisville, UCF, USF, Memphis, Houston, Navy, Temple, ECU. Tulsa had received votes.
But with great success also comes great losses. The AAC has become the premier stepping stone for coaches wanting to jump back into the P5. Here are the coaches poached from the AAC: Willie Taggart, Matt Rhule, Justin Fuente, Tom Herman, Chad Morris, Scott Frost. Even with the conferences coaches getting taken away from the P5, there is still plenty of coaching talent with Charlie Strong, Ken Niumatalolo, and Luke Fickell.
The AAC even gets to brag about the fact that there were more AAC players selected in the NFL draft than the Big 12 last year. The amount of talent that is coming in and leaving AAC programs are extraordinary. The only real gripe that Sean Frazier has is the bowl win-loss record. Yes, the record is not stellar. But even that has been improving with 2017 as proof of this.
While the G5 is continuing to make strides, the AAC is making larger strides than the rest of their peers. Doubters like Mr. Frazier continue to discredit the AAC’s success, but the conference will continue to prove everyone wrong. Just ask Auburn.