AAC reworks football schedule in wake of Hurricane Irma

Connecticut takes the field for an NCAA college football game against Holy Cross, its season opener, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in East Hartford, Conn. UConn won 27-20. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The American Athletic Conference has juggled its football schedule to make up games involving South Florida, Connecticut, Memphis and Central Florida, which were canceled or postponed as a result of Hurricane Irma.

The rescheduling ensures that all 12 teams in the American will play eight conference games.

USF at UConn, originally scheduled for last Saturday, will now be played in Connecticut on Nov. 4. Memphis and UCF will make up a game originally scheduled for Sept. 9 on Sept. 30. To do so, Memphis has canceled its game at Georgia State and UCF will not play a home game scheduled against Maine.

The schedules of three other AAC teams also had to be adjusted to allow for the USF-UConn game to be played.

“I would like to thank the presidents and athletic directors at Memphis and UCF, whose cooperation made this possible,” Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “I also want to thank Georgia State athletic director Charlie Cobb, Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson, and Maine athletic director Karlton Creech for their flexibility and cooperation. We look forward to playing our full, 48-game conference schedule and having our champion decided on the field.”

All the maneuvering will likely come with some cost to the conference. Georgia State said, per its contract with Memphis, it will receive $1.1 million in cancellation fees and expenses.

Cobb said he is exploring all options for a replacement game.

“We are disappointed for our fans and our football program with the cancellation of this game, but it is beyond our control,” Cobb said. “All we can do is search for a suitable replacement, preferably a home FBS game this season.”

East Carolina’s game at UConn, which had originally been scheduled for Nov. 4, will now be played in East Hartford on Sunday, Sept. 24, which had been an open weekend for both teams. The teams can’t play that Saturday, because an MLS soccer game is being played at Rentschler Field. ECU and Houston will play Nov. 4 instead of Oct. 28.

USF will now host Cincinnati on Oct. 14 instead of playing a nonconference game with Massachusetts and will play Houston on Oct. 28.

Cincinnati and East Carolina now will have open dates on Oct. 28.

UConn Athletic Director David Benedict said he is grateful to the conference and the other schools for being so flexible. He said not playing USF would have meant a loss of about $650,000 in gross revenue to UConn.

He noted East Carolina agreed not only to change its bye week, but to play on a Sunday, giving the school less time to prepare for its next game.

“I hand it to the conference, because they could have shelved this,” he said. “They could have said, ‘Hey, look, we tried a lot of different ways and it just hasn’t worked.’ But to go to the extent they have, really says a lot.”

Benedict said the school will find a way to “make it right” for season ticket holders who may now be unable to use all of their tickets because of the schedule shift.

UMass said it has agreed to play at Florida International on Dec. 2 to make up for the lost game with USF. FIU decided to cancel this week’s game rather than try to travel to Indiana in the aftermath of the storm. The game with UMass will give both teams 12 games this season.

The UMass-FIU game would not be played if FIU qualifies for the Conference USA championship game, which is also scheduled for Dec 2.

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