Conference Re-Alignment Rumblings Return--On A Much Smaller Scale
On the Richter scale, UConn's departure back to the Big East--which should officially announced on Wednesday or Thursday--recorded about a 4.5 rating.
A big deal for UConn and the Big East, but in terms of football and the Power 5 conferences, not so much.
But there will be some movement and here is what we think will eventually happen.
Faced with a escape-clause penalty of $10 million and 27 months, UConn's official departure from the AAC will officially be announced as Sept. of 2021.
The AAC will spend the next several months looking for a replacement--Army is the most likely target. BYU could also be a school of interest.
UConn must find a home for football.
Life as an independent will not work for the Huskies for a variety of reasons, although there will be initial chatter from UConn officials about the positive possibilities of life as an independent.
Faced with limited choices, including the elimination of football, UConn will accept the next best option: becoming a partner with UMass--also living life as a football independent--in the Mid-American Conference.
UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford has a done a marvelous job of scheduling to keep the Minutemen football program alive as an independent, but, like UConn, he knows a conference home is the best option.
Although UMass left the MAC a few years ago, it was an amicable divorce and Bamford has worked hard to keep the lines of communications open.
But the MAC, which is at 12 teams, still wants to get bigger. Having UMass as a 13th team didn't work out. Having two additional (with Buffalo) teams from the East could work.
The plan would add UMass AND UConn as football only members, starting in the fall of 2021. It could come a year sooner if a settlement with the AAC and UConn is arranged and the AAC has a 12th team.
What WON'T happen is having UConn remain as an AAC member in football only.
For UMass and UConn this is a viable option for football. The downside is that the MAC is committed (with ESPN) to playing football games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.
The upside is that both schools will be part of a league which opens scheduling and bowl security.
Neither UConn nor UMass officials like the mid-week game arrangement. But that is the harsh reality of football at the current level of UMass and UConn football (they were a combined 6-18 a year ago).
The MAC, which has a rising power in Buffalo, would have 14 teams and a solid Eastern block of teams .
It is far from perfect, but considering the alternatives, it is the best viable solutions.
Let's see how it plays out.