Somewhere in the Rhode Island office of the league this morning after a long vacation, AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is kicking himself.
The AAC started out 1-3 in the bowls but finished 4-3. That’s better than two Power 5 conferences but could have been even more impressive. UCF fans were salty that Temple and not it was playing a Power 5 team in a bowl game and, in retrospect, it looked like those fans were right. The thought process probably was then that Temple would draw better to the Military, but the thought process was skewed because, to this league, prestige means more than money at this point.
If Aresco had to reseed the bowls, we’re going to guess he might have gone with these matchups instead:
Military Bowl _ UCF vs. North Carolina. The speed of the Knights would have been a much better matchup against the Tar Heels than Temple would have been. While UNC put up 55 on the Owls, UCF put up 62 and, if it traveled pretty well to Philadelphia (it did), it would have done the same to Annapolis. UCF, 39-35.
Gasparilla Bowl _ Temple vs. Marshall. Cincinnati went to Marshall and beat the Thundering Herd, 45-13. Temple traveled to Cincy and would lose a 15-13 game it would have won if it had an even marginally passable special teams. Temple, 35-14.
Birmingham Bowl _ SMU vs. Boston College. SMU finished 10-2 in the regular season and was “awarded” with that trip with a game against FAU in the Boca Raton Bowl. That game was played on FAU’s home field and an unmotivated SMU team lost big-time. Had SMU played a BC team that Cincy beat, 38-6, got to think that the result would have been similar. SMU, 28-7.
Aresco could have done nothing about the Cotton Bowl because Memphis earned its spot and Navy’s beating of Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl was definitely a feather in the league’s cap.
Also, the Armed Forces Bowl that saw Tulane beat former rival Southern Mississippi was a good matchup. That said, the best the AAC could have done was gone 6-1 and we’ve got to think that’s probably why Aresco is kicking himself now because, with a little better forethought, that’s exactly what would have happened.
Thanks to a 55-13 loss, Temple will probably be sent to bowl hell next year if the Owls even make a bowl and it will be a well-earned sentence.
Friday: The Other Side of The Portal