UH’s Future Scheduling In 11-Team AAC


 
The AAC’s scheduling model has been thrown a curveball thanks to UConn’s departure to the Big East. But the league appears to have determined how to move forward and has begun to work out the logistics.
 

How 2020 is likely to play out

In June, Joseph Duarte reported that AD Chris Pezman said that a 5th non-conference game “is not an option” for the Cougars. Duarte also reported that UH’s replacement for UConn in 2020 could be an AAC East team but left open the possibility that it could be a non-conference game.
 
Schools that would have had UConn on the 2020 schedule now have just seven conference games. Pairing the teams that are now missing an AAC game is not a perfect solution but, in reality, it is the only (almost) fair option that makes sense. This scenario will require two East teams to play a home-and-home with both games count in the conference standings.
 
The other options are to count just seven conference games (for teams that wouldn’t have faced UConn, how do you decide which game doesn’t count?) or to just use winning percentage in the standings, with some teams playing 7 games while others play eight. I don’t think either of these options is a good idea but they are on the table.
 
Because UConn was scheduled to play at TDECU in 2020, UH needs to add a home game. In this scenario, and assuming the Cougars avoid a home and home with Cincinnati, UH would need one of the three East teams that are off the schedule in 2020: ECU, Temple, and USF.
 
Note: The other East school, UCF, is already scheduled to play at UH in 2020 and would not come here twice.
 
UConn would have gone to ECU and USF next year so those schools will also need home games. You can scratch them off the list which means only one team is left: Temple. The Owls were scheduled to go to Connecticut in 2020 and will be nudged by the league to travel to TDECU in 2020 in what should be a conference game.
 
Without official confirmation, I’m pretty sure UH’s 12th game will be Temple and it will count in the standings.
 

Beyond 2020: a one-division AAC

In the near future, the AAC will formalize a plan, beginning with the 2021 season, to play as one 11-team division with an eight-game schedule. That would mean each program would miss two schools each year.
 
On top of that, it is believed that each program will be assigned two permanent rivals. Schools are scrambling to get their ideal permanent match-ups for when the league to a one-division model.
 
If permanent rivals do happen, look for UH to be paired with Tulane and SMU. Many believe that UH would be paired with Tulsa but their outlier geography makes sense to group them with SMU and Memphis. In an ideal world, the Cougars and Tigers would be paired together but that is unlikely to happen.
 
There are several ways an AAC master schedule could be built but seemingly the easiest is to rotate two teams off of a school’s schedule each year. That way, UH would rotate through everyone in a four-year cycle.
 
Here’s how a potential schedule could look:
 

Year 1
Permanent Rivals
Tulane
SMU
 
Navy
Tulsa
Memphis
UCF
USF
ECU
 
Off The Schedule
Temple
Cinci
 

Year 2
Permanent Rivals
Tulane
SMU
 
Memphis
UCF
USF
ECU
Temple
Cinci
 
Off The Schedule
Navy
Tulsa
 

Year 3
Permanent Rivals
Tulane
SMU
 
USF
ECU
Temple
Cinci
Navy
Tulsa
 
Off The Schedule
Memphis
UCF
 

Year 4
Permanent Rivals
Tulane
SMU
 
Temple
Cinci
Navy
Tulsa
Memphis
UCF
 
Off The Schedule
USF
ECU
 

In this scenario, each school would play permanent rivals four times and the non-permanent schools 3 times in a four-year cycle. It is possible that the league chooses to rotate just one team off every year but it would take eight years to cycle through everyone.
 
In a one-division scenario, the league would apply for a waiver with the NCAA so that the top two schools could play in a conference title game.
 
From a football perspective, missing Tulsa once every four years is great (missing Memphis – not so great). Getting solid programs USF, UCF, and Temple three times in a four-year cycle instead of two is also a win for the Coogs. Overall, I believe the one-division league will benefit UH and the league.
 
Which is why no one is ready to add a C-USA filler school anytime soon.
 

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