The AAC released its strategic plan on Monday, a plan that they hope will get them into the Power 5 stratosphere. Its based on five pillars of awesomeness, novel ideas like academic and athletic prowess. Really reinventing the wheel. Here are the pillars. Go crazy.
-Student Health, Safety and Well-Being
-Branding, Marketing, Communications and Public Relations
Shouldn't the AAC have been doing these things already? Did we really need to have a Conference’s Strategic Planning Subcommittee to tell us this? Couldn't we just have summarized with a one pillar that said "Hey Let's Be Awesome!"?
Here's how you get into the Power 5, you essentially have two options, 1) Build a time machine and join the Big 10, PAC 12 or ACC when they formed or 2) Be awesome. At everything. Oh and make a ton of money.
The 5 pillar release comes a day before the Alabama released an extension of Nick Saban's contract that will play him roughly what Conference USA pays their entire head coaching roster. The deck is stacked. Horribly stacked. Unless you can make up the financial ground, it's impossible.
The best way to become a Power 5 or a new member of the Power 6 is to be awesome at everything. Houston has valiantly made that attempt for the past decade. They've made smart hires, upgraded facilities, built a state of the art stadium, won games, knocked of Power 5s and yet when the Big 12 flirted with expansion, ultimately they were once again left behind.
You can check four of the five pillars for most universities, student health, academic excellence, athletic excellence, and branding. What you have almost no control over is revenue generation and that's what separates the Power 5s from everyone else. Your average run of the mill power 5 conference will generate roughly $20 million more that the average non-power 5 from rights deals alone. With rights holders tightening their belts on all non-blue chip assets, alternate streams of revenue are essential but not readily available. You also can't control who gets into the exclusive club. Those seats aren't available anytime soon.
The Big 12 farce that was the expansion search proved that. More than 20 schools made inquiries into the conferences position. They came from varied levels of academic and athletic success and yet the Big 12 chose none of the above for fear of devaluing their asset.
Unless someone finds a way to monetize these assets and until the status quo lets someone in, branding and athletic excellence won't matter for the AAC or any other Group of 5 team.