At some point this week, it’s expected UConn will confirm that its non-football sports will be leaving the American Athletic Conference and rejoining the Big East. It’s also expected that the AAC will not allow UConn to remain as a football-only member, creating a void for what would be an 11-team conference that would seemingly need to be filled.
As for who would replace UConn as a 12th team in the AAC, the rumor mill has run the gamut from current members of Conference USA to current members of the MAC to current members of the Sun Belt. However, a pair of FBS independents are currently the top choices to slide into that 12th slot — if they want it.
Of the two, Army would far and away make the most sense on multiple levels, given the geography — and the inherent travel costs — and the built-in rivalry with Navy. Of course, the addition of that service academy would also bring into question the timing of the annual mid-December Army-Navy game, which would normally be played after the AAC championship game.
Obviously, you couldn’t play a conference game, storied rivalry or not, after your league’s title game, so those logistics — and decades worth of history — would have to be worked out.
Then again, the AAC could move forward with 11 teams and not add any members, at least for now, as it mulls its football future. As one AAC official explained to CFT, going with one less than a dozen in football is much more desirable than adding an inferior fit just to keep the league at an even-number members.
As for UConn football? With the MAC and Conference USA reportedly not in the cards, it appears either FBS independence or dropping back down to the FCS level would be its only legitimate options moving forward.