With the Indianapolis 500 just completed, the focus now turns to Atlanta, Georgia as the host city for the 2019 American Athletic Conference (The American) Championship. The football world will be watching closely to see if the conference can continue its recent dominance on the gridiron.
Just like many other American motorsport events over the years, the Atlanta race has its roots in the early 1950s. The first race meeting was held at the former Dixie Speedway in January 1953, with the inaugural race taking place a month later.
This was soon followed by the construction of a brand-new track, with the first asphalt-surface event taking place on November 3, 1955. The track was originally known as Georgia State Stadium – and was then renamed to Bobby Jones Stadium in honor of the legendary football coach – before being renamed again to its current name in 2017.
Early Motorsport In Atlanta
In the years that followed, Atlanta would become a hub for motorsport, with the city hosting numerous historic events including the Southern 500, a leg of the World Series that was a part of the original Indianapolis 500 in 1956 and then annually from 1977 until 2004. The series was eventually revived in 2016 as the IndyCar Series, with the first race being held at a brand-new track in Atlanta, just 16 months after it was decided that the event would no longer be held in Indianapolis.
Away from the track, the city of Atlanta played host to the 1996 Summer Olympics, with the Centennial Olympic Park, including its signature fountain, being constructed for the games. One of the city’s most prized possessions is the Olympic Stadium, which still stands as a testament to the original purpose for which it was built – to host the Olympics and nothing more.
The Atlanta Motor Speedway was originally constructed as part of the plan for the 1956 Summer Olympics. The city’s most recognizable landmark, now known as the George Wythe Bridge, stands adjacent to the venue, with the two structures connected by a pedestrian tunnel.
The 2019 American Athletic Conference Championship
The 2019 championship will be the sixth overall edition of the American Athletic Conference (The American) Championship, with the event being contested between 12 teams, across two racing phases. The first is a traditional single-day, 40-lap sprint sanctioned by the Automobile Club of Wisconsin (ACW), with the second being a more traditional multi-day, graded-bumpkin series that will conclude on the Wednesday before the big race on Saturday.
The four horsemen of the apocalypse will be seeking to defend the title that they won last year after an undefeated regular season – the New York Times, Syracuse, Texas A&M and Clemson. Leading the pack will be the Clemson Tigers, who went 16-0 during the regular season and have not lost a game since – dating back to last year.
Last year’s champions, the New York Times, look to continue their dominance of the league, while Syracuse and Texas A&M look to build on their strong showing in their inaugural season. The team with the most overall points across both races will be deemed the winners of the tournament.
When Was The American Athletic Conference Organized?
The American Athletic Conference (The American) was formed in 2014 as a result of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) renaming the American Football Conference (AFC). The American was initially spearheaded by none other than Jimmy Patsos, the legendary coach of the Miami Hurricanes who passed away in 2017. Patsos had long desired a league of his own, with the eventual formation of The American enabling him to realize his dream. The following is an excerpt from the official press release regarding the new conference:
“The American Athletic Conference will serve as a platform for our 24 football conference universities to succeed and thrive. It will provide our student-athletes with the best possible opportunity to develop their full potential, while uniting our conferences from both the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Northwest. We believe these goals are consistent with the desires of NCAA champions everywhere. We look forward to becoming the next great American intercollegiate athletic conference.”
The American has accepted 12 football conferences from within the Association, including Boston College, Connecticut, Louisville, Marshall, Navy, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Temple, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, bringing the total membership to 48. In addition to football, the conference also offers other sports including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, softball, and golf.
The first inter-conference football game between Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State will be played on August 31, 2019.
Who Are The American’s Rivalries?
There are a number of fierce rivalries within the American Athletic Conference (The American), with many of the games holding a significant place in the hearts of those who follow college football. Let’s take a look at some of the games that are arguably the conference’s best:
Clemson vs. Florida State
Perhaps the most famous of the conference’s rivalries is that between Clemson and Florida State, with the two rivals having met on the playing field four times since 1949. The Clemson Tigers lead the series 3-1. The teams last met during the 2012 season, with the Seminoles narrowly losing that year’s edition. Florida State won the following three games, with the first two being played in Tallahassee.
The rivalry is a bit like that between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, with the two college football dynasties colliding each year for a game that always draws a large crowd. The stakes are often high, with last year’s meeting being decided by a margin of just three points. The Clemson Tigers have now won five out of the last six games, with the series being tied 3-3 overall. The two teams have met once this year so far, with the winner of the game currently holding the lead in the overall series.
Texas vs. Arkansas
The Texas and Arkansas rivalry is one of the best in all of sports, with the two states frequently competing for the biggest sports events. The two teams have met on the football field 45 times, with the Razorbacks currently leading the series 23-22-2. The two teams last played in 2014, with Texas triumphing 37-10 in Austin.
The two teams only met on the gridiron once this year so far, with the game, played in Fayetteville, Arkansas, ending in a 37-7 Razorbacks victory. The Razorbacks, under head coach Chad Morris, lead the overall series 46-23-2.
Oklahoma vs. Texas
The Texas and Oklahoma rivalry is another one of the best in all of sports, with the two states frequently competing for the biggest sports events. The two teams have met on the football field 45 times, with the Longhorns currently leading the series 28-16-2. The two teams last met in Dallas in 2014, with the Sooners winning 23-19. The overall series has gone back and forth between the two over the years, with the last three meeting being won by each side. The two teams have met once this year so far, with the game ending in a 9-9 tie in Dallas.
Texas leads the overall series 46-23-2, with Oklahoma winning the last three games. Despite the lopsided nature of those contests, the series is still considered one of the great rivalries in all of sports.
UConn vs. Louisville
Another one of the best rivalries within the American Athletic Conference (The American) involves the UConn Huskies and the Louisville Cardinals. The two universities’ football programs have been among the best in the country for many years, with the two teams regularly competing for the biggest events. The schools have met on the football field 53 times, with Louisville leading the overall series 40-16-2. The two teams have met once this year so far, with the Cardinals narrowly winning 20-17 in Connecticut.
Louisville leads the overall series 40-16-2, with UConn winning the last three games. Despite the lopsided nature of those contests, the series is still considered one of the great rivalries in all of sports.