It is certainly the week to get back to work for this guy!
August brings with it the start of football in Eastern North Carolina. There is simply no better time of the year.
High school football practice kicked off on Monday. That season begins on August 17th and we at WNCT-TV are all set for another season of Touchdown Friday.
East Carolina fans are hoping for lots of “touchdown Saturdays” for ECU this fall. That fun begins on September 1st when North Carolina A&T pays a visit to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
For the past several years it has been a privilege to travel up to Newport, Rhode Island, for the American Athletic Conference Football Media Kickoff. I get a chance to take part in the preseason media poll and I get to interview all of the coaches and players from around the league.
I also take time out each year to have AAC commissioner Mike Aresco on one of our live sportscasts from Newport. The next day Mike took to the microphone for his annual “state of the conference” address to the media.
“You’ve heard a lot about the Power 6, or P6 as we refer to it in shorthand, and I have said that it is no longer a media or promotional campaign, it is reality,” Aresco told the gathering. “This conference has proven time and again that it belongs in the so-called power group. Tremendous energy has been invested in the P6 campaign.
“2017 was another major step forward as UCF went undefeated and defeated No. 7 Auburn in the Peach Bowl. When you win 26 P6 games in the past three years, including high-profile wins against Oklahoma, Florida State, Auburn, Ole Miss, UNC, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Louisville (twice), among others, it is no fluke. When you have 90-plus games each with one million or more television viewers, it is no fluke.
“When you have 15 NFL draft picks to the Big 12’s 14 in 2017, it is no fluke. When you have set NCAA all-time receiving records, when you have an Outland Trophy winner, a Nagurski Award winner and two Sullivan Award winners, and a host of other individual awards, it is no fluke.
“If this is not power, then power loses its definition. There is a symmetry in the tagline “P6 in Year 6″, but never has it been more on point.”
Aresco certainly makes strong points. However since the Power 5 doesn’t buy into the P6, and the Group of Five certainly doesn’t buy in, just who’s left?
Aresco maintains that many in his league have been a part of the Power 5 before, and really did nothing wrong to lose that status.
Many at the American’s media days emphasisized their interest in expanding the playoffs. The one team that really felt the brunt of not making college football’s Final Four was UCF last season. Even though the Knights were undefeated, UCF didn’t come close to making the playoff. The Knights bottled their frustration long enough to beat Auburn in the bowl game — and then claimed a mythical national championship.
There is no easy answer for the American Athletic Conference. The truth is that it is a league stuck in the middle. It’s not the Power 5, but it’s better than the other leagues in the Group of 5. The American is simply a better league than Conference USA, the Mid-American, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt.
The upcoming television contract will be the key. Aresco hopes that the new deal he strikes will move his league closer to true P6 status.
“I don’t want to say it’s make or break,” said Aresco. “But it will be very important for the future of the American. That deal will be vital.”
Aresco enjoys hosting his league’s players and coaches, and he takes great pride in the American’s annual “New England style clam bake.” Hundreds of lobsters were sacrificed for the event, which has become a tradition that started back with the Big East football get-togethers.
The American moved its Media Day to the third week in July to not interfere with the start of camp for many teams. East Carolina reports later this week and will hold its first practice of camp on Friday.
The Pirates will then host their own Media Day on Saturday.
The summer is over. Thank goodness it’s football season again.
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