A minute for the Minutemen: What’s happening in Amherst this fall?

The better question might be, What’s happening away from Amherst this fall?

Before the 2012 college football season began, I surveyed the schedules of some of the teams I wanted to see in live action. While I must’ve noticed the common opponent on the Vanderbilt and Michigan schedules, it wasn’t until I heard a broadcast of UMass at Western Michigan that I knew there had to be a story here. Who won’t these guysmen play? (And, more generally, UMass has a football team?) 

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UMass does have a football team, it turns out, and they’ve had one since 1879. The story is that they left whatever the FCS is/was to start playing Division I football in the MAC this year. And that schedule? The Minutemen appear to have put together a quasi-national tour as a way of announcing themselves.

What they most immediately are announcing is that they stink at football. Like any PR tour, though, there’s always a secondary purpose, and just because the product doesn’t look pretty doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made, and a fundraising tour like this could mean big bucks for the D-I newcomers, money that could be invested to improve the program in the future. And even if they’re losing, announcing themselves outside of their region and playing games against major conference opponents will help broaden their recruiting base, an essential element of building a football program. By the looks of it, this maiden voyage won’t be an anomaly either: in addition to repeat games against Indiana and Vanderbilt, the Minutemen already have Boston College, Notre Dame, Florida, and Kansas State on their future schedules.

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