No, UCF, USF’s series with Florida, Miami don’t set a bad precedent for the AAC

If an AAC team wants to schedule a big-name program like the Gators, it’s not getting a home-and-home series. Sorry.
USF wide receiver Darnell Salomon (3) runs the ball while tackled by Georgia Tech defensive back Malik Rivera on Sept. 8, 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
USF wide receiver Darnell Salomon (3) runs the ball while tackled by Georgia Tech defensive back Malik Rivera on Sept. 8, 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published May 20

The latest War of Words on I-4 came last week over scheduling. USF set up a two-for-one series with Miami, a year after announcing a similar two-for-one series with the Gators. UCF fans mocked the deal, and Knights athletic director Danny White didn’t seem thrilled with it either during his interview on Orlando’s 96.9 FM.

“It’s a precedent I don’t like being set in our conference for schools to start doing a much higher volume of two-for-ones,” White said. “As a conference, we’ve been successful historically getting home-and-homes with Power Six opponents. I’d like to see our conference peers continue to do that as we have done.”

RELATED: So how good is USF’s non-conference slate? As good as any in AAC

Let’s set aside the differing scheduling philosophies. UCF is only looking for home-and-home deals because it wants seven home games a season. USF has different priorities. That’s fine. Different rules for different schools.

Instead of debating which plan is better, let’s look at what White said. Is he right?

After looking at all of the AAC’s upcoming games against Power Five teams (as listed on fbschedules.com), here’s my conclusion: Kinda, but not really.

As White said, AAC teams have generally been successful at landing home-and-home deals with Power Five teams.

Ignoring USF and UCF and excluding rivalries like SMU-TCU, Notre Dame-Navy and Temple-Penn State, I counted 47 upcoming games/series between the AAC and Power Five teams. Of those 47, I considered 31 to be true home-and-home deals. Nine were one-time games, three were two-for-one deals, and four others were something else.

But not all Power Five teams are equal. Playing Florida or Miami is not the same as playing Rutgers or Wake Forest. And that’s where White’s argument fizzles out.

The AAC has 11 upcoming games or series with what I consider to be big-name opponents (again, excluding rivalries and the schedules of USF and UCF). Of those 11, only two are true home-and-home series: Cincinnati-Nebraska and Temple-Miami.

RELATED: Strength of schedule? That comes with a whole lot of stress

It’s worth noting, too, that Miami’s scheduling philosophy appears to be changing. The Hurricanes don’t have any more home-and-home series scheduled (that I’m aware of, at least) with programs like Toledo or Temple. Instead, they have upcoming home-and-home deals with Texas A&M and Michigan State, plus one-time buy games against Jim McElwain’s Central Michigan team this fall and Alabama-Birmingham next year.

But let’s look at the major programs’ matchups with the AAC (again, excluding UCF and USF). Clemson, Ohio State, Washington, Michigan State and Auburn have one-time games with at least one AAC team. Oklahoma has a pair of two-for-one series, and the Sooners’ two-game deal with Houston included a game at the Texans’ stadium.

So White is partly right. If you want to schedule any Power Five opponent to a home-and-home series, you can.

But if you want to play a power program like the Gators or Clemson? That home-and-home isn’t happening in the AAC. And that precedent was set years ago.

READ MORE: Why Dan Mullen wanted the Florida Gators-USF football series

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