Wednesday, March 26, 2014

UMass + Mid-American Conference = Disaster

The move never made sense for either side.

UMass, a New England school, joined the Mid-American Conference, which features a Midwest nucleus, as a football-only member in 2012. After two straight 1-11 seasons, the Minutemen have solidified plans to leave the conference.

UMass and the MAC issued a joint announcement on March 26 declaring 2015 as the Minutemen's final season in the conference. UMass tried filling a void when Temple left the MAC to return to the Big East in 2012. The Owls now play in American Athletic Conference.

The only thing UMass created is a hole at the bottom of the conference. The program's lone wins since joining the MAC are against Akron in 2012 and Miami (Ohio) in 2013. Both teams went winless in MAC play. 

Adding UMass hasn't generated interest for the MAC -- or college football -- in New England. The program is averaging 13,590 fans per game since joining the MAC. The Minutemen play in Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. Coach Charley Molnar was fired after two seasons. His replacement is former Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple.

UMass was offered full MAC membership earlier this year. The school declined the offer and will become a football free agent.

"This is not the outcome we anticipated when UMass was admitted as a football-only member," MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement."However, circumstances have changed regarding our football membership and this is a result of those circumstances."

When UMass leaves, the MAC will have 13 football members. Here's some advice for Steinbrecher and university presidents: don't leave your Midwest roots when shopping for a 14th member.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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