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.
USF and UCF got American Conference 2020 schedules Tuesday
On Tuesday afternoon the American Athletic Conference made official is 2020 football dates for opponents for its conference members. And, that means UCF and USF got to look for the first time at their full conference slates and when they are playing whom.
First for the Knights, they learned that they will open year three of coach Josh Heupel’s conference play on Thursday night September 24th at East Carolina. It is one of three stand-alone weeknight(day) games UCF has on their schedule.
The next one will be Friday night October 16th, as UCF travels to play the Memphis Tigers. That’s a team that the Knights defeated for two Conference Championship Game victories in 2017 and 18.
— American Football (@American_FB) February 18, 2020
UCF will also play a traditional “War on I-4” game with the rival Bulls on the Friday after Thanksgiving November 27th. This will be the fourth straight year of playing on “Black Friday.”
As for the Knights other part of the league schedule, they will have their AAC home opener with Tulsa on Saturday October 3rd and then, finish the slate with two huge home matchups with Temple Saturday November 14th followed by Cincinnati at Spectrum Stadium the following week.
For the Bulls, who welcome first year coach Jeff Scott in 2020, they will only have two standalone appearances in conference play. Those will be a Friday night home game October 23rd with Tulsa and then, the previously mentioned final rivalry game with UCF on Friday November 27th.
The Bulls first conference game of the season will be at Cincinnati on October 3rd, while the home opener is East Carolina the following week at Raymond James Stadium.
USF has a tough road slate beginning at Temple on October 17th and then, after the Friday night home game with Tulsa, playing at Memphis November 7th and at Houston November 14th.
The conference is playing 2020 with only 11 members, as UConn has departed and gone back to the Big East. This will also be the first time that the AAC doesn’t play a two six team division format and will instead take the top two ranked teams in conference play for it’s December Championship Game.
Speedy former UCF RB Killins looks to impress at Shrine Bowl
One-player eager to start showcasing himself Saturday afternoon in the pre-draft process in St Petersburg is former UCF speedster RB, Adrian Killins.
Killins ,who just finished four years of highlight runs and touchdowns for the the Knights will participate in the East-West Shrine Bowl.
— East-West Shrine Bowl (@ShrineBowl) December 2, 2019
Killins is generously listed at 5’9 and 165 lb. and came UCF without much fanfare from Daytona Mainland High School. However, he had been an explosive player on the football gridiron, and he was also a former two time 3A State 200m track champion before coming to Orlando.
Once at UCF in 2016, Killins immediately showed off his explosiveness and moniker of “fastest player in college football” with a 100-yard kickoff return at ECU and an 87 yard touchdown run at “the Big House” in Ann Arbor against Michigan.
His best season was his sophomore year, when he was named First Team All American Athletic Conference RB, as he rushed for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead UCF. He showed versatility and caught another additional 25 passes for 169 yards.
He also set a UCF record for longest play from scrimmage that still stands, in the UCF regular season win over Memphis, as he took a handoff and the looked like a missle racing down the sideline:
Longest run in @UCF_Football history ✔️
Longest run in @American_FB history ✔️
2nd-longest in NCAA this year ✔️
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) October 1, 2017
Killins helped the Knights experience their greatest season ever at 13 – 0 with not only a thrilling double-overtime conference title game rematch win over the Tigers, but a New Year’s Day upset of SEC Powerhouse Auburn in the Peach Bowl for the perfect season.
His next two years under Josh Heupel and his new coaching staff were not as spectacular. But, he still he would make the occasional explosive run and finished his career with over 1,700 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.
He did leave a final impression with his 115 yards and 1 TD in the regular season finale with USF.
Now, he knows that with his smaller size, even with blazing speed, he will be challenged to stick on an NFL roster, and another way might be as a kick returner. Killins left UCF with a career 21.8 avg on 47 returns as a Knight.
He will likely need to show that part of his game to help him get a realistic shot at the next level. And, we wait to see if there will be explosive plays from him Saturday.