College Sports

How the AAC is trying to keep UCF, USF from a potential future Power 5 move

Saban dismisses claim that UCF shares national title with Alabama

Alabama coach Nick Saban insists that his team is the true NCAA football champion, and not UCF, who went undefeated last season. Saban added that the College Football Playoff system is "not broken."
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Alabama coach Nick Saban insists that his team is the true NCAA football champion, and not UCF, who went undefeated last season. Saban added that the College Football Playoff system is "not broken."

The American Athletic Conference wants its schools to sign a grant-of-rights agreement, according to the Sports Business Daily.

What that means is preventing schools like the conference’s premier program the past two seasons, UCF, as well as other top football teams in the conference like USF, Memphis, Cincinnati and Houston from bolting for a Power 5 conference once the current media deal runs out, the outlet reported.

The AAC’s media package with ESPN expires in 2020. The Sports Business Daily reported a new deal could be worth three to four times more than the current $126 million, seven-year deal.

But that would be contingent on a team like UCF not leaving if a Power 5 conference decided to expand and extend an invitation to the Orlando school.

UCF and USF were rumored candidates for the Big 12 when that Power 5 conference explored expansion two years ago, but the Big 12 decided against expanding.

UCF is heading to its second consecutive New Year’s Six Bowl after becoming back-to-back AAC champions. However, the Knights are winners of 25 games in a row — the longest active winning streak among FBS teams — and desire inclusion in the College Football Playoff.

Like last season, UCF was not in the discussion as the final team in the CFP, which was awarded to Big 12 champion Oklahoma over two-loss Georgia.

That led to UCF athletic director Danny White to call the CFP an invitational rather than a playoff, and he has advocated — along with AAC commissioner Mike Aresco — for an expansion to the playoff system.

But CFP executive director Bill Hancock has said on several occasions that playoff expansion is not something the CFP committee has discussed.

The grant-of-rights agreement, if signed, could see more revenue for the AAC programs.

The Sports Business Daily reported a “source suggested that it may not be ironclad, saying that the possibility exists that such an agreement could be struck down in the courts.”

The Big 12 has not announced any expansion plans as of yet.

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