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The American Athletic Conference has suffered another blow as four Mountain West schools have decided not to defect to the AAC.
The report comes from Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, who said that despite being heavily courted by the AAC, Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State will be staying put. The news stings for the AAC, which is set to lose Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, as they accepted invitations to the Big 12 on Sept. 10. Despite Thamel’s report, AAC commissioner Mike Aresco released a statement to the media on Friday, calling the reports false.
While the AAC has been long regarded as the best of the Group of Five conferences, its reputation takes a hit with Cincinnati, Houston and UCF set to leave. After all, those three schools represent the AAC programs that have played in New Years Six bowl games since the AAC’s inception in 2013. Simply put, moving to the AAC is more of a lateral move for other Group of Five teams rather than a step up.
That’s despite the AAC inking a $1 billion deal with ESPN that began this year and runs through 2031-2032. The deal boosted the amount of revenue that each AAC school earns yearly, but two of the top earners in Cincinnati and UCF won’t be around much longer.
With the Mountain West no longer in play, where does the AAC go from here? As Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger wrote on Friday, a plethora of teams are in play, but one program sticks out the most: UAB.
UAB’s inclusion would make sense, as its football program is on the upswing and is conveniently located in the Deep South, in Birmingham, Alabama. Despite its football program being erradicated in 2015, it returned in 2017 and UAB has played in four consecutive bowl games.
The Blazers also open their new stadium, Protective Stadium, for today’s home game against Liberty at 6:00 p.m. The stadium was built for $200 million and has a capacity of 45,000.
UAB seems to be in prime position to join the AAC, should they want it. Of course, that would require leaving Conference USA, in which they are one of 14 members of.