In addition to convincing the AAC that UB is a great fit for their conference should they expand, we also need to point out that the AAC is a pretty great option for UB fans as well. In our two posts a day between now and Saturday we'll be alternating between UB's assets for the AAC and the AAC's appeal to us.
Is the AAC Too Far From Buffalo?
I'll admit it, I wanted to join the Big East. It wasn't the best conference, but when I was in college, it had West Virginia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, UConn and Rutgers. I loved the idea of playing in a prestigious yet tight knit eastern conference.
Conference realignment killed that dream, however, the American Conference provides a happy medium, a few close rivals and a few games in key recruiting areas against fun teams in fun destinations.
Assuming Cincinnati leaves the AAC, divisions could look like:
UB would visit Western teams once every four years, and visit Eastern teams twice every four years (every other year).
Cost to Drive
(assuming 4 people to a car)
4-Year total: $1,543
Yearly Average: $386
4-Year total: $4,247
Yearly Average: $1,062
Cost to Drive to Every Road Stadium Once:
4-Year total: $1,066
Yearly Average: $267
4-Year total: $3,096
Yearly Average: $774
On average a move to the AAC would mean $700 more annually to drive to road games, divided by 4, that gives us a one-game average road game that costs $175 more to get to than a MAC game.
Scenario : Buffalonian goes to the four cheapest games:
MAC Cost to drive to Akron, Kent, BGSU and EMU = 312.87 total
AAC Cost to drive to UConn, ECU, Temple and Navy = $548.49 total
For the 4 closest games, driving the AAC would cost about $59 more per game.
Scenario: Richer Alumni Buffalonian Prefers to Fly to Every Road Game
(Using RT Flight from BUF 10/1/2015 to 10/4/2015)
MAC: $5,788 total. $1,447 yearly average. $3,967 total to go to every stadium once. $992 yearly average.
AAC: $4,933 total. $1,233 yearly average. $3,641 total to go to every stadium once. $910 yearly average.
With teams in major airport hubs, under $250 round trips can be found to Boston, Raleigh, Orlando and Washington DC. As a result, the AAC is a cheaper flight destination than the MAC.
Overall, for fans in Buffalo, UB games would be further away and more expensive to attend, however there are some amazing trips to be had, like Orlando or Carolina, that would be cheaper than flying to Ohio. The AAC would provide four trips that are pretty comparable to an average MAC trip in Navy, UConn, ECU and Temple.
In addition between 2006 and 2017, UB has played or is scheduled to play non-conference road games that are an average of 776 miles from Buffalo. Generally Buffalo plays one game close to home, (average distance 307 miles) and one game in Texas, Florida, the South or the Midwest (average distance 1,246 miles). You could assume that with guaranteed games in Texas and Florida, UB could instead play non-conference games with teams in closer proximity, including Syracuse, Pitt, or a MAC team.
Is Proximity Valued?
The MAC is closer and less expensive to travel to, however, there are two major problems with the MAC as a destination conference.
1) The MAC is close, but there aren't too many places you want to go to.
The MAC footprint has only six major cities and four states.
Ohio: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus
Meanwhile the AAC footprint covers 9 States and 11 major cities
Florida - Orlando/Disney, Tampa
Louisiana - New Orleans
Maryland/DC - Washington DC
Massachusetts - Boston
North Carolina - Raleigh
Oklahoma - Oklahoma City
Pennsylvania - Philadelphia
Tennessee - Memphis
Texas - Dallas, Houston
The American provides variety, every school having a different feel. It also has weather variety, who wouldn't want an excuse to fly down to Florida, Texas or the Carolinas in November? Not to mention the food: Gumbo, Crab Cakes, Clam Chowder, Cheesesteaks, and Memphis, Carolina & Texas BBQ. Add the Chicken Wing and the AAC will be the nation's most delicious conference.
2) MAC Schools are far away from their nearest Major Cities:
On average, each MAC school is 74 miles away from it's nearest major city. At 14 miles, UB Stadium to Buffalo is the closest a MAC school gets to it's nearest city center, after Buffalo is EMU which is 39 miles away from Detroit. Only 4 of 11 MAC Schools are within 41 miles of their nearest city center.
In comparison, the average distance between stadium and city center is 36 miles in the AAC. Six schools have a stadium within 10 miles of the closest city center and eight schools are within 32 miles.
When a MAC game is played in Dekalb, it isn't close to Chicago. In Muncie, it isn't close to Indianapolis. When an AAC game is played in New Orleans, it's in New Orleans. When it's in Dallas or Philadelphia, it's in Dallas and Philadelphia.
The Itinerary Test
Simply put, which group is more appealing?
Group A: Ypsilanti, MI, Muncie, IN, and Athens, OH
Group B: Memphis, TN, New Orleans, LA, Tampa, FL
Which group has more well-known names?
Group A: Central Michigan, Akron, Bowling Green
Group B: Navy, Houston, Cincinnati
Whether it's roadtripping fans*, recruits thinking about where they want to travel as a student-athlete, or casual (more casual than any regular Bull Run readers), the AAC offers a more appealing selection of schools for UB to affiliate with.
*If Memphis, New Orleans, and Tampa are a little far for you to envision road tripping to once every few years, consider this: Washington DC, or Detroit? Philadelphia, or Muncie? Charlotte, or Bowling Green?
We've seen Ohio, and it's been fun, but it's time to see the rest of the country.