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American Athletic Conference football schedules still a work in progress

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Football schedules for major college teams are often set years in advance. This year, they are works in progress with some schools.

With the for-more-important human havoc Hurricane Irma caused, it also created chaos with football programs such as the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida. When both schools were unable to play conference games last week, the American Athletic Conference (AAC) got to work with its member schools to ensure fairness and balance in the conference schedule.

Both UCF and USF postponed conference games scheduled for September 9 against Memphis and Connecticut, respectively. While the Bulls will play this week’s home game against Illinois as scheduled, the Knights’ home game against Georgia Tech of the ACC has been called off.

This created a domino effect, creating a hole in not only UCF’s schedule, but also for Georgia Tech. The conference games must be played somehow, which means dropping games against non-conference foes and leaving holes in the schedules of those schools as well.

On Thursday, the league announced a revised schedule for missed conference games. The AAC appears to have made the best of a difficult set of circumstances.

UCF will make up the game with Memphis on September 30 at Spectrum Stadium and cancel the game against Maine scheduled for that day. With the cancellation of this week’s Georgia Tech game, the Knights currently have only 10 games on the schedule. College football teams normally play 12 games.

“I know how hard (athletic director) Danny White and our administration worked to make this game happen,” said Knights’ coach Scott Frost. “I greatly appreciate the willingness of all the parties involved to jump in and come up with a creative solution.”

UCF has one open date, October 28, remaining on their schedule. A non-conference opponent could fill that hole.

South Florida’s road game against Connecticut was rescheduled for Nov. 4 and others re-arranged to make it fit. The Oct. 14 Homecoming game against Massachusetts was canceled and replaced with conference foe Cincinnati.

“USF is committed to being a great partner in the American Athletic Conference,” said Bulls’ athletic director Mark Harlan. “These changes are not easy for anyone, and I am proud of how our fellow conference schools have worked together to make schedule adjustments under the direction of Commissioner Mike Aresco.”

The Bulls now have 11 games on the schedule and a bye week on October 7.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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