The American Athletic Conference is down a football program, albeit not one it seems overly concerned about losing. UConn is on the way out, as it makes the move to the Big East for most sports.
The Huskies football program does not have a home, as the Big East doesn’t sponsor the sport. Randy Edsall’s program is likely going to have to go independent for the time being.
AAC commissioner Mike Aresco made it clear that his conference has no interest in helping UConn out on the football side, as it takes its most valuable programs elsewhere. From The Athletic:
“When a school takes its best product — men’s and women’s basketball — to another conference, it’s not going to play football in our conference,” AAC commish Mike Aresco said.
UConn football is officially homeless. Here’s what’s next: https://t.co/XKCXm4eWpi
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) June 28, 2019
As the top non-Power Five conference, the AAC can afford to be a bit picky in what program it wants to replace the Huskies.
According to a report, Army and BYU are two potential targets for the AAC as it aims to replace UConn.
Army would give the AAC a Northeastern replacement for UConn, but according to the Houston Chronicle, geography won’t be a major consideration in adding a program.
BYU is out West, but not overly far from the Texas wing of the AAC. Before the last round of realignment that saw the old Big East split, the league had an agreement to add Boise State and San Diego State, so BYU joining this new version of the league is far from the most drastic potential addition.
One topic up for discussion is whether to explore adding new schools or staying with 11 teams.
“We’ll consider a 12th school, but unless that school helps our strength and really enhances our brand why would you do it?” Aresco said. “We’re not going to do anything that dilutes the brand and diminishes us at all.”
The AAC has a “very small list” of potential expansion candidates, according to a source, that is believed to only seriously include BYU and Army.
As one source added, the AAC has the luxury of “being picky.”
The two programs are about as different as it gets.
BYU has been an independent since leaving the Mountain West, though it has flirted with the Big 12, though no invitation ultimately came. The Cougars could join up as an all-sport member if it wants to leave the West Coast Conference.
Army probably wouldn’t be a great all-sports option, but the Black Knights have seen a serious resurgence in football in the last few years. It would also bring the prestigious Army-Navy game under the AAC banner, which could be attractive as well.
There’s also no guarantee the league adds at all, but it sounds like the preference is to get back up to 12 teams and maintain a championship game.