Saban’s idea would kill AAC hopes
Memphis, Central Florida, Houston, Cincinnati and South Florida fans, meet the Most Dangerous Man in the World:
Nick Neidermeyer, Omega Membership Chairman. Oops.
I meant Nick Saban, but I keep getting flashbacks to a scene in the movie Animal House. It’s fraternity rush week at Faber College. Larry Kroger and Kent “Flounder” Dorfman knock on the door of the pompous Omega House.
Doug Neidermeyer quickly sizes them up as losers and escorts them to the social outcast area, where he introduces them to Mohammet, Jugdish, Sidney and Clayton.
They were a dude wearing a turban, an immigrant, a total geek and a blind guy in a wheelchair. In 1978, films like Animal House were far more concerned about being funny than politically correct.
Fast-forward 39 years. Saban is Neidermeyer, the Omega House is the Power Five and everybody else might as well be Jugdish U.
Saban thinks all Group of Five schools were created equal, as in equally unworthy. His latest stiffarm must have made American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco want to smash a guitar over the Alabama coach’s head.
Among other items, Saban told ESPN he’d like Power Five conference teams to schedule only other Power Five teams.
If you’re not up on college football caste system, the Power Five conferences are the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12. The Group of Five is all the other Dorfmans.
Saban’s idea is not without merit. The good part is it would eliminate joke games like Baylor vs. Lamar or Wisconsin vs. Georgia State, where the sacrificial lambs are just there for the payday.
The not-so-good part is that it would be a death blow to every team that aspires to greatness.
Greatness, in this case, means playing in front of 90,000 fans, raking in enough cash to pay coaches $7 million a year and having locker rooms that outshine Buckingham Palace.
Most Group of Five schools will never get there. But relatively young universities like UCF that have huge enrollments can at least envision being big time.
Half the schools in the AAC thought they had a realistic shot at joining the Big 12 last season. When that expansion charade went nowhere, the league rolled out its “Power 6” marketing plan, aiming to equate itself with the Omega House boys.
“This is a critical period for the American Athletic Conference, and we approach it with optimism and confidence,” Aresco said at AAC Media Days. “The conference is clearly on the cusp of great things, having already accomplished so much in our relatively brief history.”
The league will be history if it can’t play Power Five schools.
It’s not as if every G-5 member should automatically be shuffled to the Losers Couch. AAC teams have beaten 19 Power Five teams (and Notre Dame) the past two seasons.
Nobody cares to see P-5 teams play Presbyterian or Lamar or Tenn.-Chattanooga. It’s another toga party altogether when Houston or Boise State comes to town. Saban essentially wants to throw out the BYUs with the G-5 bathwater.
In Animal House, Kroger and Dorfman end up at the Delta House. They meet John Belushi, get put on double-secret probation and enjoy quite a few last laughs on those Omega stiffs and Neidermeyer, the ROTC leader who ends up getting killed by his own troops in Vietnam.
If only life would imitate art. Not that I want Saban’s troops to shoot him out of the saddle. But those sad sacks on the Omega couch might have gone on to become the kind of guy every frat would be proud to have as a member.
If Nick Neidermeyer has his way, Jugdish will never even get in the door.