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Army Football to join AAC!

Army Football Joins the AAC in 2024: A New Chapter in College Football

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In a significant move that promises to reshape the landscape of college football, the United States Military Academy's Army Black Knights will join the American Athletic Conference (AAC) starting in 2024. But it will just be football. This decision not only marks a significant moment in the history of the Army football program but also reflects the evolving dynamics within collegiate athletics. In this article, we will delve into the implications and expectations surrounding this move, as well as its potential impact on both Army football and the AAC.

Historical Context

For years, Army football has been a unique and storied program. With its rich history, including the famed Army-Navy game, the team has often been an independent, unaffiliated with any specific athletic conference. However, the landscape of college football has been changing, with conference realignments and new media deals driving institutions to reassess their positions. At one time, Army played in the Conference USA from 1998 until 2004. However, they left the conference in 2004 and have been independent since then. Before 1998, Army football had been independent and had not played in a conference before they joined Conference USA.

The AAC, on the other hand, is a conference that has been steadily growing in stature, showcasing a mix of highly competitive football programs. The conference saw schools such as UCF, Cincinnati and Houston leave for the Big 12 last season. In 2023, they were able to gain teams from the Conference USA to put the league to 14 teams. Those schools were such as Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA.

Implications for Army Football

  1. Enhanced Competition: Joining the AAC will provide Army football with an opportunity to compete against some of the nation's top football programs on a consistent basis. This exposure to a higher level of competition can help the team develop its skills and improve its overall performance.

  2. Improved Recruiting: The AAC's visibility and exposure could also attract high-caliber recruits to West Point. The opportunity to compete in a conference known for its competitiveness may make Army football an even more attractive choice for aspiring student-athletes.

  3. Bowl Eligibility: By joining a conference, Army will have a clearer path to bowl eligibility. Currently, the Black Knights rely on invitations to post-season bowls, but conference affiliation typically grants more opportunities to compete in bowl games.

  4. Financial Benefits: The AAC, with its conference television deals and shared revenue, offers the potential for increased financial resources for Army football. This can contribute to improving facilities, coaching staff, and other resources to enhance the program. Army still has a deal with CBS, which will help the AAC and the Army football program get more exposure.

Implications for the AAC

  1. Geographic Expansion: Army's entry into the AAC represents a geographic expansion for the conference. While the AAC already stretches across several regions, Army's presence brings a unique identity and a nationwide following.

  2. Increased Exposure: The Army brand, steeped in tradition and history, will undoubtedly boost the AAC's national exposure. The annual Army-Navy game, a staple in college football, will also become an AAC event, drawing more attention to the conference. However, the game will still be played on the second full week of December. It will be played the week after the AAC championship game. It will not count towards a conference game. If both teams qualify for the championship game, they will play in back to back weeks.

  3. Enhanced Competition: The AAC has always strived to be a competitive conference, and Army's football program only strengthens its reputation. The Black Knights will add another dimension of competitiveness to the conference. Army will also continue to play rivals such as Air Force and Navy.

  4. Negotiating Power: With Army's large fan base and a dedicated following, the AAC may have enhanced leverage when negotiating television contracts and other revenue-sharing agreements.

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The move of Army football to the AAC in 2024 is a game-changer for both the program and the conference. Army will remain in the Patriot League in basketball and other sports. Army will benefit from increased competition, improved recruiting, and the potential for greater financial resources, while the AAC will enjoy geographic expansion, enhanced exposure, and more negotiating power.

The Army Black Knights have a rich history and tradition, and they are taking their place in a conference that is poised to grow in stature and significance in the world of college football. This partnership represents an exciting new chapter for both Army football and the AAC, and college football fans everywhere will be watching closely to see how this change impacts the game.

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