FAU Football: Takeaways from the American Athletic Conference Media Day

On Tuesday, head football coach Tom Herman and four players were present in Irving, Texas for the Owls’ first American Athletic Conference (AAC) media day.
This is the start of a new era in the AAC, where FAU joins five other universities, the University of North Texas, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Rice University, University of Texas at San Antonio, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as new additions to the league. Three other universities left The American to attend the Big 12 Conference. The American has seven universities with new head coaches, including Florida Atlantic.
Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco opened up Media Day. He thanked individuals who helped improve the AAC and built the brand of the AAC last season, especially Tulane University, who came back and defeated #8 University of Southern California in the GoodYear Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. He introduced the new schools and went on to talk about how the NCAA and some media refer to The American as not a powerhouse conference, but as “silly.”
Aresco talked about the future of The American and the future of the new College Football Playoff layout next year, going from four schools to 12, which Aresco credited University of Cincinnati’s history season in 2021 to leading to the expansion of the College Football Playoff. He ended with his, and The American’s, goals for years to come, including the NCAA and NIL federal legislation.
“The DNA of this conference is our desire, our proven ability to compete and win at the highest level,” stated Aresco. “We are not just one team and one story. We’ve had a lot of teams win.”
Aresco mentioned the montra for The American this season as three big universities move to the Big 12 Conference: “New Era. Same Power.” Aresco wants the student-athletes to be great at both athletics and at the educational level, something that Aresco says the media deems unimportant. Aresco also wants The American to focus on the overall health of student-athletes, especially mental health.
At the podium, Herman thanked his players, coaching staff, and what he called a “championship administration.” He said that the past eight months with the Owls has been “the most fun I’ve had coaching in a long time,” citing his team’s work-ethic and the way the players quickly understood what he and his staff want to see next season.
“They want to win,” said Herman.
He compared this roster to that of his first year as head coach at the University of Houston, where he took the Cougars to the AAC Championship.
“We have rugged dudes on our team. It reminds me very, very much of our time in Houston.”
He also described running his program to being a parent.
“When your baby is born, you don’t wait to see how fast it can run, how good-looking it’s going to be, how tall it’s going to be before you love it. You just love it. You love that child–why?–because it is yours. And that is the same thing when you take over a program,” said Herman. “I love every one of our players–and you say, ‘coach, you just got there.’ I know, they’re mine; they’re ours. I love them. I don’t care how fast they can run. I don’t care how good-looking they are or how tall they’re going to be. I love them.”
He mentioned how “you gotta act like a champion before you become a champion.” Herman, and a couple of FAU football players, described a story about how Herman locked the players out of their locker rooms because of how disorganized it was and, as Evan Anderson said, “not holding the standard.” The players had to earn their way to get back their locker room. Herman claims it was a couple of days, but both running back Larry McCammon III and defensive lineman Evan Anderson chuckled that it was about two weeks.
Herman was asked about how NILs have affected the transfer portals. He said that he was glad that NILs were allowed. He talked about a story with Ohio State quarterback Braxten Miller, who was criticized for wearing a Louis Vuitton belt, but actually was a ripoff. Herman saw on the NCAA shop website that the NCAA was selling Miller’s jersey, which disappointed Herman.
“Every human being on this planet has the right to monetize their name, image, and likeness, every human being, if the market says we want to give you money for your name, image, and likeness,” said Herman.
However, Herman is displeased with collectives and, like what Commissioner Aresco stated earlier, that it was not what NILs were intended. He said that players shouldn’t be paid to do nothing.
Regarding the transfer portal, Herman said it was challenging for him because once he got to FAU, he had to meet with every player on the team within the first week before going out during recruitment.
“[I’m] really, really excited and proud of the amount of great players we were able to keep.”
Anderson and McCammon also joined the panel to answer some questions. They were first asked what Herman brought to the program once he was announced as the new head football coach.
“He brought to this program a lot of consistency,” replied Anderson. “He changed a lot of mindsets like with Plus-two effort and 1-0 mentality and competitive focus, like everything he do is serious. Every time we come there, there’s not a different person. Everybody got the same mission, believe in the same goal. Anything he say, we believe we can do, we know we can do.”
McCammon was also asked about what a new, retooled offense will look like under Herman.
“There’s not really a difference,” McCammon said. “We just coming in, keep working. Quarterbacks, new quarterbacks. Trying to get a new feel for that.”
McCammon is “excited” about the quarterback battle happening this offseason before the season starts. He believes the new Owls team has good players. When asked who his favorite is, he said:
“Whoever will help us win. I feel like we got a good QB room.”
Anderson was asked about his experience at FAU as a Florida-native compared to other state universities.
“For sure we can be one of those programs, just like with basketball. But even before basketball, Lane Kiffin had won two conference championships. With Coach Herman, he will be bringing a new sense of swag to the team. Hopefully, we can do what Houston did, but I want to be bigger. I feel we can be just FAU, we can be that top team of Florida because we got everything: we in Boca, the NIL is going to be there.”

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