The Big 12 is about to have some championship-game company.
One of the expected repercussions of UConn’s decision to leave the American Athletic Conference following the 2019 season would be the league likely moving away from a divisional alignment. Tuesday, commissioner Mike Aresco confirmed that the conference has filed the paperwork with the NCAA seeking a waiver that would allow it to hold a league championship game in football without divisions and without playing a round-robin schedule.
When the waiver receives an expected rubber-stamp, it would likely go into effect following the 2020 regular season.
It’s a similar waiver sought and received by the Big 12 prior to that conference resurrecting its title game a couple of years ago. The difference between the two scenarios is that the Big 12 has 10 schools — making for a true round-robin conference schedule of nine games — while the AAC will dip down to 11 members after UConn’s departure.
Another differentiation is the AAC currently plays an eight-game conference schedule. Aresco confirmed in the same radio interview that the conference has “talked to the Big Ten about how they did it all those years (when it had 11 teams) and we have to figure out the permanent opponents if any, the no-plays if any, how we do byes in November.
“There are a bunch of things to figure out, but we will figure it out.”
The Big Ten stood at 11 teams for two decades following the addition of Penn State in 1990. That conference then added Nebraska (2011), Maryland (2014) and Rutgers (2014) to get to its current 14 schools.
Aresco also acknowledged that his league is not averse to adding a 12th school, but was very emphatic that the league would not ditch a member to get down to 10 and aid in scheduling.