The American Athletic and Mountain West conferences are planning to allow their teams to play their normal eight-game league schedules amid the coronavirus pandemic, but are differing in their approaches to non-conference play.
The AAC announced Wednesday that it is moving forward with its usual conference schedule on the originally scheduled dates, beginning Sept. 19. AAC members will also have the opportunity to schedule non-conference games (as many as four) at their own discretion as long as the opponents meet the conference’s safety protocols.
“Non-conference 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,” the conference said.
The Mountain West, meanwhile, announced Wednesday night that it will allow its teams to play two non-conference games — “if they choose to do so” — in addition to their eight-game conference schedule. The conference said “various scheduling models” for the season are still under consideration, so it is not immediately known when MWC play will begin.
Acknowledging the possibility of regular season games being rescheduled, both conferences will be flexible with their football championship games. Both leagues identified Dec. 5, 12 or 19 as options, with the AAC determining that its title game will be hosted by the regular season champion. A final decision on the date of the AAC title game will be made “no earlier than Nov. 1,” the conference said.
"The health and safety of our student-athletes is our top priority as we face the challenges of the current global pandemic," AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said. "With the guidance and advice of our Medical Advisory Group, which has done an outstanding job developing health and safety protocols, we have developed a collaborative and comprehensive plan that will allow us safely and reasonably to play our fall sports.”
The AAC, MWC and Sun Belt have now all announced football plans. The Sun Belt announced a similar format to the AAC on Tuesday while Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference — the two other Group of Five leagues — are expected to make decisions in the coming days.
AAC, MWC lose non-conference games
Many AAC and MWC teams have lost non-conference games against Power Five opponents after the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 decided to play conference-only schedules. The ACC and Big 12 are going to include one non-conference game in their respective schedules, so there are a few games that can still potentially be played.
Here is the list of canceled AAC non-conference games so far. Tulsa is the only AAC team that has not had to cancel any games thus far. Meanwhile, East Carolina athletic director Jon Gilbert said Wednesday that he has spoken to Marshall about possibly moving their season-opener from Aug. 29 to “a date in early or mid-September.”
Cincinnati: at Nebraska (Sept. 26)
East Carolina: at South Carolina (Sept. 12), vs. Norfolk State (Sept. 19)
Houston: at Washington State (Sept. 12)
Memphis: at Purdue (Sept. 12)
Navy: Notre Dame (Sept. 5), Lafayette (Sept. 12)
SMU: TCU (Sept. 26)
Temple: at Miami (Sept. 5), Rutgers (Sept. 19)
Tulane: at Northwestern (Sept. 12), at Mississippi State (Sept. 26)
UCF: North Carolina (Sept. 4), at Georgia Tech (Sept. 18), Florida A&M (Nov. 7)
USF: at Texas (Sept. 5), Bethune-Cookman (Sept. 12)
In the Mountain West, the Pac-12’s decision was most impactful.
Air Force: Duquesne (Sept. 5)
Boise State: Florida State (Sept. 19)
Colorado State: Colorado (Sept. 5), at Oregon State (Sept. 12), at Vanderbilt (Sept. 26)
Fresno State: Colorado (Sept. 12), at Texas A&M (Oct. 12)
Hawaii: at Arizona (Aug. 29), UCLA (Sept. 5), Fordham (Sept. 12), at Oregon (Sept. 19)
Nevada: at Arkansas (Sept. 5)
New Mexico: at Mississippi State (Sept. 5), at USC (Sept. 12)
San Diego State: UCLA (Sept. 19)
San Jose State: at Penn State (Sept. 19), UConn (Nov. 14)
UNLV: Cal (Aug. 29), Arizona State (Sept. 12)
Utah State: Washington State (Sept. 3), at Washington (Sept. 19)
Wyoming: Utah (Sept. 19)
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