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What the AAC’s new media deal with ESPN means for the conference

The #Power6 movement took a big step in the right direction.

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

#Power6 just got more interesting. AAC commissioner Mike Aresco’s been putting together a compelling case for the conference to be among the Power conferences. Now, they’ve taken another step in the right direction.

ESPN is committing an average of $83.3 million per year to the conference for 12 years. That’s a significant jump from the $20 million the conference was making per year in their previous deal. For more details on the deal, check out this article.

What this means for the AAC

Besides a handful of basketball games and a few Navy football games, ESPN gets everything else AAC related. This has been a storyline for quite some time now, and Aresco cashed in arguably the biggest deal in his tenure as commissioner. What will this mean for other conferences? Will this deal push Power conference to increase their own deals? This also puts the spotlight on the other Group of 5 teams with what they will do in the future as well. This could be an extremely influential deal with huge ramifications for all of college football.

Let’s start with the #Power6 brand. For the longest time, Aresco and the league were the butt of many jokes because of this hashtag. This deal may not give them Power 5 status, but it’s a good step in the right direction. A grant of rights was not signed in this deal, meaning that these schools would still be free to leave for a Power 5 conference. With the success that schools like UCF have shown in recent seasons, that could be a cause for concern. Either way, the deal is a positive for the conference, and could be just the beginning of changes for other conferences as well. It also means that expectations have been raised even more.

Aresco’s placed high expectations on his schools for a while now, so that’s nothing new, but a new challenge presents itself with the new deal. They wanted to be a Power conference, so now they must compete like one. ESPN’s investment in the conference comes with the expectation that it will receive a nice return. Games like UCF-USF and UCF-Memphis were on ABC last year, and were big hits for both the network and the conference. Games like that must be a yearly occurrence with a deal like this. ESPN committing to this long of a deal was surprising, but it gives the conference an asset to work with going forward.

Looking Ahead

This is another step in Mike Aresco’s plan to get the AAC to be recognized as a Power conference. It also provides many other ramifications, good and potentially bad. The AAC will be in the spotlight more frequently now, and schools have more money to spend. There will be plenty of discussion surrounding this deal, so stay tuned. Be sure to check out the Underdog Pawdcast to hear more about what we think about this #Power6 deal!