For me, it is not the contract talks. For me it is that the AAC is very competitive at the top in CFB and BB. The only reason UCF lost the access bowl was their starting a true freshman QB.
Now the AAC looks like a 4 bid league for the BB tourney. And that is with Memphis and UConn being down.
At some point ESPN is going to work with its TV partner conferences to destroy the AAC by picking off a couple teams near the top. Not sure they reall care which two as long as it busts the league.