UConn Is Reportedly Leaving AAC, What Does This Mean For The Mountain West?
Will a Mountain West team be offered to the AAC?
Realignment is back!
College sports is slow during the summer months and that is usually the time where conference realignment rears its ugly head, and on the first day of summer, UConn makes the first move.
The Huskies are reportedly leaving the AAC and head to the Big East in basketball and its football destination is TBD.
UConn has not been too happy with the AAC by being away from its former Big East members, specifically in men’ and women’s hoops. The move that likely gave the push for the Huskies to leave and join the Big East was the new AAC television deal that would put a decent amount of basketball games behind the ESPN+ paywall and remove them from local TV in the area.
UConn released a statement on the matter: “It is our responsibility to always be mindful of what is in the best interest of our student-athletes, our fans, and our future. With that being said, we have been and remain proud members of the American Athletic Conference.”
This could have a big impact only if the AAC decides to add a 12th football team. First off, the American does not need to add a football team to get back to 12 teams to host a conference title game. So, if the American wants to be picky they can and wait and see what is out there.
Does this impact the Mountain West?
A few years ago, before the Big East dropped football and the American formed a new league, Boise State and San Diego State were going to be Western partners for Big East football.
That fell apart when the Broncos elected to stay in the Mountain West and earned a nice little TV deal exclusive to them as an incentive.
Would the AAC come calling to the Mountain West and do they need to? The answer is likely no. The reason for that is just adding one team in all sports creates a travel headache but only football could make sense with just a few road games to the Eastern part of the United States.
There is no way the Mountain West would allow a team to stay without football and what would that Mountain West team do, go to the WAC? The odds of the American plucking just one team from the Mountain West seems very unlikely.
Could the American go West and try to land three teams in the West Coast and make a true Western Division with BYU and two Mounatin West teams to create a 14 team league (or go with four Mountain West teams and BYU for 16). That way they could pair teams with some combination of Tulsa, Houston, and SMU.
However, even adding BYU which brings a lot of eyeballs likely would not be enough even when including Boise State and a few other Mountain West teams to bring in the money needed to get a big increase in media rights on par with the Power 5 leagues.
Adding multiple teams is the only way the American could basically break up the Mountain West as adding a lot of teams out West would alievate a lot of issues with travel in the American.
Also to consider is that schools like UMass, Conference USA and possibly even some Sun Belt teams will really want to get the call up to a better league, money, and prestige.
But, that is not going to happen.
Odds are that the American will be staying pat at 11 teams for a while but if they are to make it move for a Mountain West team they would need to go all-in and try to make a 16 team league to entice programs to leave.