As the Big East made it official on Thursday and invited their former member UConn back into the fold officially, the next step for the American Athletic Conference (which the Huskies are leaving behind) is to figure out what to do with an odd number of 11 teams?
To that end, the AAC athletic directors, including UCF’s Danny White and USF’s Michael Kelly will be on a conference call on Friday discussing the options moving forward.
Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer had more details on the call being the first of several steps for the 11 remaining members, including it’s two Florida schools, to decide what to do with football and basketball schedules.
And, also, they must discuss the ramifications with the new ESPN TV deal that the conference just announced earlier this year:
As UConn holds a presser to unveil a return to the Big East, ADs from around the AAC plan to have a conference call tomorrow to continue discussions about the future https://t.co/6hkEi46WJg
— Fletcher Page (@FletcherPage) June 27, 2019
First, UConn will play its final season this year and that gives some time for the AAC to act. They, obviously ideally would look to add a program that plays both FBS football and basketball, and therefore, solve the unequal number of teams and scheduling for both sports.
This is why it is largely believed that the American will not invite BYU, who is currently an FBS football independent with the rest of their programs in the West Coast Conference. If the AAC did offer to BYU for football only, it would still necessitate the American adding yet another program with for every other sport but football. The AAC did that with Wichita State two years ago.
There is also been speculation that the conference may make an offer to Air Force, as a full-time, all sports member to leave the Mountain West Conference. Part of that is based on Air Force playing rival Navy, the football only member of the AAC, annually.
However it’s not likely that the Falcons would be willing to part with a lot of their traditional rivals and regional matchups from the last 20 years of the Mountain West to come play programs like Memphis, East Carolina, USF, UCF, Tulane in the Southeast on a regular basis.
That geographical issue was part of UConn’s frustration, as they were virtually isolated in the Northeastern footprint away from where most of their opponents were in the AAC.
The American has two very real concerns at the forefront:
First, as Page relayed in his story, ESPN could alter the newly announced 12 year deal that is supposed to represent at least $7 million in revenue per school annually. That deal has a clause that says if the AAC loses a member(s), then the rights fee can be decreased by the network.
Further, the NCAA has mandated that in order for the conference to play a championship game, which the American has had for the last four years, it must have 12 schools or play an equal round robin schedule.
Obviously the AAC doesn’t have a 12th school, at the moment, and you cannot equally play a round-robin schedule with 11 teams with only nine conference games.
UCF has hosted and won the American Conference Championship Game each of the last two years. They then went on to defeat Auburn in the Peach Bowl and complete a perfect season in 2017. However, they lost to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl snapping their 27 game win streak in January..
Finally, it seems a simple solution would be to invite UAB, which brought back FBS football two years ago and won the Conference USA Championship game and its bowl game. The Blazers also have a solid men’s basketball program, as well.
Plus, Birmingham is a significant television market and is in the Southeast footprint with other programs like Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina, and the Bulls and the Knights. All of those American programs have also been previously in Conference USA with the Blazers.
Now, we wait to see the course of action that the A.D.’s and AAC commissioner Mike Aresco take.
Week three power rankings are tighter at top
Week 2 of the college football season was not very kind to a handful off the state university’s last weekend. While week 1 of the NFL season was brutal for our in-state teams, as well. After a under whelming weekend for Florida football lets take a look at how things stack up in our rankings:
Florida Gators- The Gators were one of the only bright spots last week in the State. It took Florida until the 2nd quarter to find the endzone, which is something they surely didn’t envision. From there, they would head to an easy 45-0 victory over UT-Martin. The Gators did suffer two potential major losses on the night. RB/WR Kadarius Toney and DB C.J. Henderson were both injured and could miss the conference opener at Kentucky next week.
UCF Knights- UCF put up a lot of points (above) and a lot of yards, yet again. The Knights went over 500 yards and for the 28th game in a row put up 30 points. Freshman Dillon Gabriel silenced a crowd of over 30,000 that was the largest in program history for FAU. The Knights put up 14 points in both the first and second quarter on their way to a blowout victory. This week they face Stanford coming from California into the “Bounce House.”
This game was looking like a ranked match up before the Cardinal lost to USC late last Saturday night. Still, this is a big game for Knights against a Power-5 opponent and coach Josh Heupel knows they have to be impressive.
Florida State Seminoles- The Noles slide into the 3 spot or did they really back up into it? FSU was painfully close to loosing at home to ULM. Had the Warhawks gone for two, like many expected them to do, they might have walked out of Tallahassee with Willie Taggart contract in hand.
For the second week in a row the Noles had a 2nd half collapse. After leading 24-7 at the break they went into the 4th quarter still up 24-21, but then faltered badly, again, only to hang on 45-44 in OT. Heading into conference play this weekend the Noles will need to get a grip on things or they won’t end well starting at Virginia Saturday night.
Miami Hurricanes- The Canes were oh so close last week. In the first true road game of the year the U almost took one in Chapel Hill. Freshman Jarren Williams had a great bounce back performance throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns. After being down all game the Canes took the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter with 4:45 left to play.
The Hurricanes though still want this one back, as UNC freshman QB Sam Howell hit a 20-yard pass on 4th and 17 to keep the game winning drive going. The Canes would drive down the field to attempt a 49-yard field goal that was missed. Miami though should get into the win column next week against Bethune- Cookman.
Is it freshman QB Dillon Gabriel’s job at UCF already?
When quarterback Brandon Wimbush decided to transfer from Notre Dame to UCF, he knew he would be in a QB battle. After Darriel Mack Jr. went out with an off season broken ankle, it appeared the job was all his. However, in the season opener against FAMU, he split reps with freshman, Dillon Gabriel. Now, after Gabriel played the entire game Saturday night at FAU, we’re left to wonder if the job belongs to the freshman?
Both QBs had played well against the over-matched Rattlers in week one leaving the door open for more split duty. And, coach Josh Heupel even said the job wouldn’t be Wimbush’s 100 percent.
Well, against FAU this past Saturday though it was just the freshman Gabriel who saw all the action. Wimbush was held out with an undisclosed injury, and now the question is? will he get back in immediately? Gabriel went only 7/19, but had touchdown passes of 57 and 74 yards ending the night with 245 yards:
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) September 7, 2019
That many yards on that few completions shows the big play potential of UCF’s offense, and Gabriel led four TD drives in the first half of the blowout win.
Heupel said Wimbush could have played in an emergency and didn’t say anything about his availability for this weekend’s game Stanford.
After just being involved in a QB controversy that saw him go to the bench last year at Notre Dame, Wimbush might have walked right into another one in Orlando. If he is indeed healthy enough to play in the game against Stanford, it will be interesting to see who starts?
This will be one of the bigger games for the Knights this season and Wimbush has played in some big games in his career from his time in South Bend. We don’t know right now, but come Saturday we may find out what Heupel and has staff think of Gabriel leading them, at least for now. And, do we have a real QB controversy on our hands?
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