Old Big East Shows American Athletic Conference's Inability to Brand

By Joseph Nardone

Mike Aresco became the commissioner of the Big East Conference at exactly the wrong time. The league was already falling apart, universities were already on their way out and a network television deal needed to be made. Aresco’s experience in TV, however, did not help him do a single thing correctly. In less than a full calendar year, Aresco has seen the Big East as we all knew it explode and fall to the wayside.

The Catholic 7 have retained the “Big East” moniker. Meaning Aresco’s new conference, full of leftovers and abominations of programs, had to re-brand their product. Aresco has preached branding since he took over the position. Even when he turned down a hugely profitable network TV deal, only to sign a much smaller one later, some felt that Aresco would shine in the branding process. Well, those people were really, really wrong.

Aresco and the universities left after the conference realignment aftermath have finally settled on a name, the American Athletic Conference (AAC). Reportedly, the original name Aresco picked out (America 12) was rejected by university presidents because they did not want a number attached. That was smart, especially considering the fact that they will either look to add more teams in the future or programs who are currently with them will bail as soon as they possibly can (CC: Connecticut Huskies, Cincinnati Bearcats).

“The American,” as they plan to brand it, is about as original as a cover band at your local pub. Considering they have poached the worst programs from Conference USA, I guess this is more appropriate than it is good branding. Now, Conference USA: The Sequel, has to convince folks that their product is worth tuning into. Mind you, sequels are usually much worse than the original — outside a few exceptions.

Does anyone or their mother take the AAC serious? Nope. As sure as Batman gets all the ladies, the American Athletic Conference will surely fall flat on their face. Gone are the days of them (If they are even considered “them” anymore. The Catholic 7 are far more “Big East” than the remaining ACC members) being relevant on a national stage. In national relevancy’s place will be a battle with the NECs of the world for finding a nice, niche market.

The kind of market they seem to be targeting is questionable, however. As it seems Aresco’s branding of the ACC has already gone off the rails. But hey, if you like horrid basketball where something called the Tulane Green Wave is going to be a flagship program, fourth-tier football and a league that will be increasingly irrelevant — the American Athletic Conference is for you!


Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone


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