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Desperate for conference membership, UMass discussing options with Sun Belt

Charley Molnar

The UMass football program is searching for a new conference home following the 2014 season. The Minutemen will part ways with the MAC as an associate football member and is in a difficult situation in the evolving college football landscape. Could the Sun Belt Conference, centered in the south, really be the best for for UMass?

Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com reports UMass and the Sun Belt have entered preliminary discussions about the possibility of having the Minutemen join the conference. From a conference membership standpoint, UMass could become the Sun Belt’s 12th conference member, which would open the door for potentially starting up a football championship game for the first time in conference history.

Unfortunately for UMass, joining the Sun Belt could present even more challenges for operating a football program at the FBS level than they have experienced as a member of the MAC. If UMass was isolated as a football member in the MAC, they will be totally out of this world as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. At least in the MAC the closest school to the school was Buffalo. As a member of the Sun Belt the closest conference rival would be found in North Carolina (Appalachian State). Perhaps it might be time to suck it up and consider a move back to the FCS level, where the school could better manage travel.

The Sun Belt will be adding Idaho, New Mexico State, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern as conference members this fall. Texas State, Georgia State and South Alabama have recently joined the conference as well.

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8 Responses to “Desperate for conference membership, UMass discussing options with Sun Belt”
  1. patbocam says: May 14, 2014 2:06 PM

    Nothing says the sunbelt of America like Massachusetts. All kidding aside, umass would get their ass kicked by the likes of arky st., Troy, & Louisiana Lafayette. The sunbelt conf is like the minor leagues to the sec for 2 & 3 star kids who were on the outside of the bubble looking in to the Bamas, LSU’s , Auburns etc.

  2. irishdodger says: May 14, 2014 2:32 PM

    I think UMASS needs to have more realistic expectations. Didn’t they fire their new HC after one or two seasons? And this was their first year in D1 football. Not saying that guy was the right or wrong choice, but given only one to two years to compete at a small school on a higher level is asking a lot considering the coaching talent a school like UMASS could attract.

  3. noaxetogrind says: May 14, 2014 2:50 PM

    If you really follow the landscape of college football you have to wonder what soome of these college presidents and AD’s are thinking. Liberty University has been begging the Sun Belt for admission. They have done everything asked of them. Their facilities are some of the best in the nation. The just built one of the nicest college baseball stadiums on the east coast and are currently ranked #21. Their football facilities are better than just about every other team that is already in Sun Belt. They bring incredible financial stability and from a strictly business standpoint have a demographic following that is potentially huge. In comparison UMASS is an underfunded program, in a state bereft of high school talent and plays home games 90 miles away from their campus. Karl Benson said he wanted the 12th member of the league to be a travel partner for App State. That sure sounds like it should be Liberty vs. UMASS. I have no dog in this hunt other than I have followed this story for a while becuase I know some of the coaches at Liberty. I sure hope it is not what it appears to be when you look at it objectively, a case of religious intolerance. One school has geography, facilities, financial strength and a commitment to big time football by virtue of their budget. The other is going in the other direction.

  4. ajarkoski says: May 14, 2014 2:54 PM

    Seems like they are not thinking things out here. Shouldn’t they be dominating the MAC before thinking they should move up to higher competition? And if and when they get to that point in the next decade, the AAC should be a real option as several more conference expansions and alterations leave the AAC looking for new members. In my mind, it is best to focus on improving performance and output before taking this path they are pursuing.

  5. thefiesty1 says: May 14, 2014 6:32 PM

    UMass in the Sub Belt? Do they have a campus anywhere near the Mason -Dixon line? Join the MAC or the Atlantic 10 if they have them.

  6. dmcgrann says: May 14, 2014 11:26 PM

    noaxetogrind, like you I have no axe to grind. But, no one ever “asked” Liberty to do anything. They were presented with what they had to do. It was there choice to do it or not.

    When you say stuff like, “Their football facilities are better than just about every other team that is already in Sun Belt. They bring incredible financial stability and from a strictly business standpoint have a demographic following that is potentially huge.”, I might suggest you do have an axe to grind.

  7. dmcgrann says: May 14, 2014 11:27 PM

    there=their. I do know the difference.

  8. manik56 says: May 15, 2014 10:07 AM

    Go back to 1-AA. You misplayed your hand UMass.

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