AAC to keep all conference games, allow schools to sift through nonconference

The American Athletic Conference will step in line with Conference USA for a college football schedule this fall. The AAC announced on Wednesday it will keep all eight of its conference games and allow member institutions to play as many nonconference games as possible.

Instead of delaying the season and moving to a conference-only schedule, as four of the five Power 5 conferences have done, Commissioner Mike Aresco elected to allow schools to keep any non-league games scheduled for early September if they were still playable, and if opponents met the safety standards put forth by the conference’s medical advisory board.

“Nonconference games may be played at the discretion of the individual schools, with the understanding that the opponents will strictly adhere to protocols and standards for testing, pregame, in-game and postgame operations set by The American’s Medical Advisory Group,” a conference press release read.

Even with this move, it is still unlikely that every member of the conference will play all four nonconference games on the schedule. Most teams have already had games wiped off their 2020 slate as other conferences cancel fall seasons or delay the start date for football. It is more than likely that teams could only play anywhere from one to three non-league games after the schedule is finalized.

It is possible, according to Aresco, that every school will not necessarily play the same number of games depending on how many nonconference games are canceled.

“It is possible for some schools to play a different number of games. Although we would like to have a standard number of conference games. Those are all things that are, again, part of a very fluid situation,” Aresco said in an interview with The Daily Campus two weeks ago.

SMU is in a unique situation. Until this week, the football program was one of six teams in college football with its schedule completely unharmed in the wake of cancelations. TCU canceled its game against SMU on Monday when the Big 12 opted for a conference-only, plus-one format for the 2020.

Texas State, Stephan F. Austin and North Texas remain in contact with the athletic department and none have expressed any current desire to cancel nonconference games.

Athletic Director Rick Hart said last Thursday that he remains optimistic SMU will play as full of a non-conference schedule as possible, maybe even 12 games if the department can find another opponent to fill TCU’s spot.

“Most of our early games are in the state of Texas. So, our eyes are on that ball. We are trying to play all of those games and get through our fall seasons,” Hart said. “We are well positioned to compete in a number of sports, including football. Until we can’t do that, that is our goal and that is our focus.”

The conference did indicate this morning the conference championship game would likely be pushed back to allow leeway for regular season games to also be canceled.

“Depending on the need to potentially reschedule regular-season games, The American Football Championship will be played on either Dec. 5, 12 or 19 at the stadium of the regular-season champion. A decision regarding the date of the championship game will be made no earlier than Nov. 1,” the press release said.