UConn announced this summer that it is leaving the AAC prior to the 2020 season, which left a void in the conference that bills itself as one of the "Power Six." Commissioner Mike Aresco is in no rush to fill that void, and has a plan in place to drastically change the format of the conference in football.
In an interview on 92.9 ESPN in Memphis, Aresco said that he intends to eliminate divisions in football and pair up the two best teams in the conference in the AAC Championship Game.
"We've already pretty much made that decision," Aresco said. "We've already started the waiver process with the NCAA to be able to play a championship game with 11 teams and not have to play a round-robin. We think playing 10 [conference] games is out of the question for all sorts of reasons. We also don't want to be forced to add a team and raid another conference. We also don't want to be forced to jettison a team."
The NCAA deregulated conference championship game rules in 2015. Conferences can now hold a championship game pitting the top two teams provided they play a round-robin schedule -- as the Big 12 currently does. Obviously, with 11 teams, that'd be challenging for the AAC. Prior to 2015, conferences had to have at least 12 members and be divided up into divisions.
As for the future of the AAC's conference schedule, that remains a question.
"We've talked to the Big Ten about how they did it all those years with Penn State at 11," Aresco said. "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 AAC currently has two, six-team divisions. Memphis is the two-time West division champion, while UCF has dominated the East for the last two seasons. The AAC's first conference championship game came after the 2015 season when Houston topped Temple.