The Old Big East Gets An Uninspired New NameS

With the defection of the "Catholic 7," and the loss of the Big East name, the conference formerly known as the Big East needed a new moniker. Something that feels focus-grouped to death. Something that emphasizes its spiritual co-option of Conference USA's "we'll take anyone" business plan. Something inclusive of the widely flung member universities, yet still geographically accurate. Say hello to the American Athletic Conference.

Commissioner Mike Aresco, who inherited a mess not of his own doing, made the announcement yesterday after a unanimous board vote.

“We worked with our institutions, sports marketing experts, media partners, and also solicited opinions and reactions from collegiate sports fans to create a compelling list of names,” said Aresco. “Versions that included the word ‘American’ led every list. American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our reinvented Conference.

"Our name is a nod to tradition, but at the same time makes clear our determination to be a Conference with national impact and appeal. The American Athletic Conference will represent core American values of optimism, energy, growth and innovation. We have a broad geographical footprint that represents unity as well as diversity.”

So many words, saying nothing. We already had an inkling the conference was going to go the nationalist route: "America 12" was publicly floated last month, but someone realized the folly of including the roster size while schools are fleeing in droves. Also reportedly considered: the Metro, which is a stretch when it includes Annapolis, Storrs, and Greenville; the Collegiate, which would be redundant to the point of farce; and the United, which would be a dirty lie.

American Athletic Conference. It doesn't necessarily roll off the tongue, and has an acronym that sounds like what Cathy says when she's frustrated. But the league's official Twitter account gave a preview of the branding, and said it will downplay "AAC" in favor of "The American."

The American will officially launch this summer, presumably with a new red-white-and-blue logo and a stockpile of cash from exit fees and the sale of the "Big East" name. (It would probably much rather have the billion dollars or so it left on the table by turning down a TV rights deal two years ago.) The very first in-conference football game? Houston at Temple. Catch the excitement, catch the American!