When the American Athletic Conference was officially launched this summer, one of the many concerns surrounded the bowl game tie-ins. After all, the nationwide conference reshuffling was about making money. And the easiest way to do that was through football. Specifically, winning football that ended the season in bowl games.
Except that the AAC was a new conference with few bowl affiliations. That changed Thursday when the league announced bowl tie-ins with four ESPN-owned games over a six-year period beginning in 2014.
Additionally, the AAC re-upped with the Beef 'O' Brady Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as the BBVA Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. A deal with two other bowls was also announced: The Armed Forces Bowl in Forth Worth, Texas and the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu.
There's more. The AAC will send a team to either the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, (in 2014, 2016 and 2018) or the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii (in 2015, 2017 and 2019). This group of bowls will annually select three of the top six eligible teams from The American.
“We are proud to continue our successful partnership with the industry leader in sports television. ESPN has established some of the most attractive bowl games in the nation,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “These bowls allow us to play outstanding teams and they will also annually reward our student-athletes and coaches with memorable postseason experiences. Our fans will enjoy these great destinations and a national television audience will enjoy watching these compelling bowl games."
“These games provide our conference with the opportunity to face top competition in desirable locations, which has been our stated goal as we assemble our postseason lineup,” added Senior Associate Commissioner Nick Carparelli.