The University of Tulsa’s division foes in the American Athletic Conference have been set, according to ESPN. And it’s an interesting set of schools.
The AAC divisions will be split geographically with one notable exception – the U.S. Naval Academy. Navy will be in the American West, joining Tulsa, Houston, Memphis, Tulane and SMU.
Aligning strictly by geography would have placed Cincinnati in the West. That would have made a West Division of all urban centers – Tulsa would have been the smallest metro represented. Cincinnati, Dallas, New Orleans, Houston and Memphis all are major-league markets. It also would have made for tough football; Cincinnati won two Big East titles in recent years and played in BCS bowls.
Not that Navy is a pushover. The Midshipmen’s option offense causes sleepless nights for upcoming opponents. In terms of recent success, the American West pecking order goes something like this: Houston, Tulsa, Navy, SMU, Memphis and Tulane.
The divisions don’t begin until 2015, when Navy joins the league as a football-only member.
Navy preferred to be in the West, coach Ken Niumatalolo told the Advocate.com, because “Texas is our No. 1 state for players. So we’d prefer to play at either Houston or SMU every year.”
This is Tulsa’s first year in the American. The AAC does not have an automatic berth into one of the major bowls, but one spot is reserved every year for the highest-ranked team from one of the five conferences not on the automatic list – the American, Conference USA, the Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences.
The American’s bowl tie-ins this year are with the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. (vs. the SEC); the St. Petersburg Bowl in Florida (vs. the ACC); the Miami Beach Bowl (vs. Brigham Young), the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md. (vs. the ACC); and the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas (vs. Army).