American releases two-division format, Temple in East

After a 2013-14 season that showcased four first-round NFL draft picks, the American Athletic Conference looks to follow their inaugural year with more improvements.

Among these improvements will be the two-division format announced Friday by the conference. The new East-West format will comprise of six teams in each division. The winners of their respective division will face off in the first conference championship game for The American.

The change, which was unanimously approved by conference’s chief executive officers, pitted Temple in the East division alongside Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina and South Florida.

In addition to conference play, the American has many formidable non-conference games, including the Owls’ season opener against Vanderbilt. In addition, The American will also face South Eastern Conference teams South Carolina and Texas A&M as well as Big 12 schools Missouri, Oklahoma and Baylor.

Temple, which finished the season tied with Memphis at a conference-worst 1-7 American record, will return top offensive performers including dual-threat sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker and senior running back Kenneth Harper.

In addition to the division alignment announcement, Aresco also announced that next year will implement an eighth referee for conference games and a new tiebreak procedure. The tiebreak procedure allows co-champions and rewarding the co-champion ranked highest by the College Football Playoff Committee with the automatic bowl bid for the American.