The joyous death of the Bowl Championship Series and long-awaited birth of the College Football Playoff was a tremendous financial boon to everyone in college football. Everyone except the American Athletic Conference.
In moving from the adults' table of the BCS to the kids' table of the CFP, the American saw its payout drop by $12 million from 2013 to 2014 while every other conference gained money, according to sports business reporter Kristi Dosh (via Yahoo Sports).
As an automatic qualifier under the BCS system, the American took home nearly $28 million in the 2013-14 postseason. For those who don't immediately recall the 2014 BCS cycle, that was when Central Florida upset Big 12 champion Baylor, a year after Big East champion Louisville took down SEC power Florida. In fact, the Big East/AAC always fared well in the BCS; its 9-7 all-time record bested the Big 12, Big Ten and ACC.
But its total roster turnover lost the American a seat at the table in the changing of the guard from the BCS to CFP, and the Big Six became the Power Five. Without an automatic spot reserved, the AAC joined the Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA and Sun Belt among the Group of Five, five leagues sharing one automatic spot in a New Year's Six bowl.
Last spot was claimed by Boise State in 2014, and those Broncos took home an extra $8 million or so for their conference in addition to their Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona.
American commissioner Mike Aresco insists his league views itself as the sixth Power Five conference. His conference went 8-31 against the rest of the FBS in 2014 and, as you see above, took home the seventh-largest playoff payout. If it plays like a mid-major and gets paid like a mid-major, Mr. Aresco, it's a mid-major.