American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco attended Navy’s loss to Rutgers on Saturday and talked about the Midshipmen’s pending arrival as a football-only member in 2015.
“We’re very, very excited about having Navy join the conference,” Aresco said. “We feel Navy is going to add a lot to the conference. It’s a national institution and a football program of great stature.
Since 2003, Navy has 21 victories over schools from the “Power Five” conferences. That is the most by any non-Power Five school and Aresco said “that statistic says it all” about the quality of Navy’s program.
Aresco is determined to have the AAC viewed and treated on equal terms with the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten and Southeastern Conference. Several schools from the AAC have played opponents from the upper halves of the Power Five and performed well.
“Give us two to three years and I guarantee we’ll be one of the premier football conferences in the country, on par with the Power Five,” Aresco said. “Winning solves a lot of things. We have to win games and we have to impress the media. We have to show people who we are and what we can do. Football in this conference is a work in progress, but we are going to eventually make our mark.”
The Midshipmen didn’t have their best outing with Aresco in attendance, allowing 435 yards — 284 on the ground — to Rutgers in a 31-24 loss.
With the arrival of Navy, the AAC will have 12 football schools and thus will divide into East and West Divisions. Athletic director Chet Gladchuk requested the Midshipmen be placed in the West Division even though it is located along the Eastern seaboard, and Aresco had no problem with that.
“Navy is a national institution with fans in every state. We understand why Navy wants to get to different areas of the country,” Aresco said. “I also think it makes sense based on the fact there are a number of like-minded institutions in the West Division. Tulsa, Tulane and SMU are all private universities with high academic standards. I think it’s a good fit for Navy on that front.”
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