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Optimism abounds in the AAC

Good luck with that.

In the face of a pandemic, the American Athletic Conference will attempt to conduct business as usual this football season.

A plan announced Wednesday will allow AAC schools, including the University of Houston, to play a full 12-game schedule, if they so choose, and begin the season on time, even as COVID-19 continues to grip the U.S.

The AAC will play all eight of its conference games as originally scheduled beginning Sept. 19, and schools can schedule as many as four nonconference opponents, according to the plan unanimously approved by the AAC’s Board of Directors.

“We wanted to keep our eight-game schedule the way it was, not to be too disruptive to the teams,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said during a phone interview Wednesday. Asked about the uncertainty of playing a full 12-game schedule due to COVID-19, Aresco added: “We’re not sure that our teams can get to 12. There’s a lot that could affect that. This is the most unusual year we’ve ever faced.”

UH is expected to play an 11-game schedule, which begins Sept. 3 against Rice at TDECU Stadium. A 12th game — a nonconference trip to Washington State on Sept. 12 — was canceled with the Pac-12’s decision to play a conference-only schedule and is unlikely to be filled, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

I mean, I’m sure they’d like to do that. Many conferences are greatly restricting or eliminating non-conference games – the Big XII will allow for one non-conference game, others like the PAC 12 are doing none – so the extra games for AAC members may prove challenging to set up. Well, extra games with major-conference schools, anyway.

I remain perplexed by the belief that we’re going to have college football as if it were a normal year. The “bubble” concept seems to be working (or has worked) for basketball and soccer, while MLB baseball has had more than its share of problems with its rollout. I don’t see any reason to think that the players will be safe – never mind the coaches and staff and everyone else – and the idea that there could be fans in the stands is even more bizarre. On the other end of that spectrum, former AAC member UConn will not play football at all this fall. Maybe they’re the forward-thinking ones. The Trib has a more comprehensive roundup of what the various conferences are planning, for now. I’d assume all of that is written on the sand, at low tide. All I can say is, there’s not much time for things to get better before the games, such as they may be, begin.

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5 Comments

  1. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Fun facts about UH athletics. Pre-Covid 19, UH was losing 45 million per year on athletics, the vast majority of it on football, mens basketball and baseball. This represents a cost of around $4,000 per four year degree for every student. Coaches get more in salary than UH spends on athletic scholarships. The jobs and scholarships involuntarily funded by students in those sports favor out of state residents, wealthy students (most athletic scholarships nationally go to wealthier students) and totally exclude LGBT persons, and substantially disfavor AAPIs and Mexican Americans. Womens sports are funded at far lower levels as well. A culture of disrespect and hostility towards non evangelicals and LGBTs probably exists as a result of UH having official pastors and groups (such as baseball chapel) being granted special access and effective endorsement as they ‘groom’ players and staff to be anti LGBT at this public University.

    You can ask the AD if youd like about these claims.

    The deficit this year will climb to close to 60 million. Students shouldnt have to borrow 4 grand per degree to subsidize athletics. Public Universities shouldnt run athletic department deficits. Coaching salaries shouldnt be more than in state scholarships. Spending on womens sports shouldnt be lower than male ones if theyre running a deficit. LGBTQ students, which are de facto banned from coaching and player positions in football, baseball, and mens basketball should have equal, pro rata funding. Public universities should bar coaches/staff from grooming and bar official status/special access for religious groups.

    Every D1/FBS program in the state other than UT/TAMU loses millions per year on football, mens basketball, and baseball. The athletic department deficit last year alone at D1/FBS Texas public colleges was over 200 million. And its getting worse. Tarleton State will double their athletic deficit this year as they move up to D1/FCS. They have no hope of ever making money on this outlay.

    Ridiculous.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    Tom, very interesting information. The big college sports (football and basketball) have lucrative TV contracts. Also does the deficit that you mention include other revenue (specifically licensed merchandise) that is increased by sports? And increases in alumni donations due to their continued interest in the university sports programs?

  3. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Jason, thats after all revenue, including athletic department donations are included. And the real defecit is actually much higher due to transfer costs and facility costs that may not be included. Public universities are required by law to publish financials. USA Today (google search…”athletic department subsidy”) should bring up the data for all public universities. But these numbers are largely self reported too. At UH, its roughly half a BILLION dollars in losses each decade.

    I actually spoke to that AD at my alma mater (not UH) about the NCAA/USA Today reported numbers. He admitted that the deficit is made up from student fees and from general university funds.

  4. Paul Kubosh says:

    Has a u of h grad I’m used to seeing other people back my school. Proud to say itin the most diverse school in America. That is undisputed. People don’t like to talk about it but this would mean u of h will get respect.

  5. […] of Connecticut, which now operates as an independent for football, cancelled its season as well. Optimism abounds elsewhere, with plans for mostly-full schedules and some fans in attendance. All I can say at this […]