We're all well aware that the BCS is gone after this season. Next year will start a new age in college football with a four team "play off" and a series of contracted "access bowls". The short version, it's the BCS 2.0 and it was a way to get rid of the Big East auto-bid. The so called "Group of 5", including the AAC, MWC, MAC, Sun Belt, CUSA have a chance to earn a spot in an access bowl by being the highest ranked team out of that group.
A few days ago the AAC announced bowl contracts that will start in 2014:
Armed Forces Bowl: AAC vs. Big 12. This might be confusing, but this matchup will only take place in even number years. 2014 is obviously an even number year. However, the AAC will play Army in this bowl in 2014. Odd number years will be a matchup between the Big 10 and CUSA.
Beef O' Brady's Bowl: Ah, you can just feel the prestige and tradition in the name. The ACC will be the first pick of this bowl in 2015 and then from 2017-2019. CUSA will also be here in 3 out of the 6 year contract also. The AAC will fill in the blanks.
Birmingham Bowl: AAC vs. SEC. YEA! A GAME AGAINST THE SEC!! Don't get too excited, it will be against the 9th place team in the SEC. This is almost always going to be against a 6-6 or 7-5 team.
Military Bowl: AAC vs. ACC. The team from the ACC will be picked from their 7th-10th team. Yea, we'll see you there Wake Forest and Duke.
Hawaii Bowl: This rotates. AAC in odd numbered years will play the MWC. CUSA plays the MWC in even numbered years. If Hawaii is bowl eligible, this is their landing spot.
Bahamas Bowl: This is a rotation of the "Group of 5" conferences. The AAC will play the MAC in 2014 & 2016. The same deal goes for the Boca Raton Bowl, AAC will play the MAC in 2015 & 2019.
I think I cringed the whole time I was typing. Belk Bowl? Gone. Russell Athletic? Gone. Pinstripe Bowl that the Big East helped create? Also gone. I know Hawaii and the Bahamas are beautiful places, but how many Bearcats fans, or fans of other AAC teams can afford to just up and book trips to those places a couple weeks in advance? Not many. I thought the main purpose of bowls was to appeal to fans?
It's an unfortunate turn of events for a conference that desperately needed some good news to come its way. We're not even sure which of those bowls the AAC champion will be headed to. In my opinion, Aresco whiffed on that part of it. This is where he and Craig Thompson (MWC commissioner) should have put their differences aside and made a AAC vs. MWC "Champions Bowl". Those conferences are by far the best two in the remaining "Group of 5", why not play each other? Most years the conference champions from both are going to be ranked or at least close to ranked. I know I would much rather play a ranked Boise State, Fresno State, SDSU etc. than a Kentucky team that had a dream season and finished 6-6.