NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) On the strength of rising-star coaches such as Justin Fuente, Tom Herman, Matt Rhule and Willie Taggart, the American Athletic Conference has positioned itself to at least make the case that it should be viewed as a peer to college football’s most powerful leagues.
The five-year old conference has had enough success on the field to fuel Commissioner Mike Aresco’s aspirations of turning the Power Five into the Power Six. That might be more of a dream than a goal, but if the AAC has any chance to close the gap on the Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference, it will need a new wave of up-and-coming coaches to develop.
At the American’s annual media day and clambake by the sea in this New England resort town, you might have needed a scorecard to keep track of the turnover in the coaching ranks. There are five new coaches, including at three teams that were among the best in the conference last year.
”Any anxiety over so many new coaches is easily dispelled by our conference’s phenomenal record of hiring top assistants and established veterans who have invariably gone on to great success in our league,” Aresco said Tuesday. ”These coaches will no doubt do the same and join our incumbent coaches to comprise as strong a group as any in college football.”
Aresco is confident, but it remains to be seen if the next Herman or Fuente is currently coaching in the American.
Major Applewhite was promoted from offensive coordinator to replace Herman at Houston. In two years with the Cougars, Herman won 22 games and parlayed that success into the Texas gig. At 38, Applewhite has already served as offensive coordinator at Texas and Alabama.
”You have to be yourself,” Applewhite said. ”Tom and I are different human beings. But I think we agree on a lot of the same principles that win games in terms team toughness, accountability, execution, buy-in, spreading the culture.”
Rhule led Temple to the American championship in 2016 before leaving for Baylor. He was replaced by his longtime friend Geoff Collins, the former Florida defensive coordinator. South Florida took a different approach when Taggart left for Oregon, hiring former Texas and Louisville coach Charlie Strong instead of a first-time head coach to lead a team that is the overwhelming favorite to win the conference.
Source: Fox Sports