What are the five key questions going into the season that need to be asked at American Athletic Conference football media days?
American Athletic Conference Media Days
July 15, 16. Newport, RI
5. Q: So what’s going to happen when UConn bolts?
UConn is out of the whole American Athletic Conference business starting next season. Of course it would’ve made the most sense to go to the Big East in all of the other sports and stay in the AAC in football, but that’s not happening.
Part One: Where is UConn going? Being an independent would be the easiest move, but then it’s out there in the wilderness. Bowl tie-ins become a problem, interest becomes an issue when there’s nothing to play for, and there’s not much of an onfield upside.
Conference USA would be an easy fit if the league chooses to expand, but the league won’t be rolling out the red carpet considering the other sports aren’t a part of the fun.
Program-wise, it would also be a step down. The American Athletic Conference is either the sixth or seventh-best conference in college football. Conference USA is behind the AAC and Mountain West when it comes to Group of Five cachet.
Which then begs Part Two of the big question, and it’s the one that matters to the AAC – who fills the void to keep it a 12-team league?
Bringing in Army would be fantastic. It could slide right into UConn’s spot in the East while Navy is in the West, the rivalry game can remain intact – yes, move it up a few weeks if you have to; it’ll be okay – and it makes perfect geographic sense.
UMass would also be a good regional fit, but … nah. There’s not enough oomph.
Marshall has to get a look, Florida International and Florida Atlantic might have a shot, and there’s the option of taking all three and becoming a 14-team league.
There will be a whole slew of non-answer, answers at media days about this, because no one knows yet.