Wednesday, April 20, 2011

UMass Minutemen

Yesterday the UMass Minutemen announced that they'll be moving up to Divison I-A football starting in 2012.

UMass is certainly not a football powerhouse, but they've had quite a bit of success in Division I-AA (the football division that actually has a playoff instead of the silly bowl system). The Minutemen won the I-AA Championship in 1998 and played in the championship in 2006 and 1979. Last year they nearly upset Michigan, losing a 42-37 squeaker. Granted, Michigan's not the program it once was, but still any time an I-AA nearly beats a I-A team it's worth noting.

Several NFL players have hailed from UMass, including quarterback Greg Landry (the last Detroit Lions QB to go to the Pro Bowl, which tells you how bad the Lions have been since he played in the 1970s), running back Marcel Shipp and current New York Jets lineman Vladimir Ducasse.

The Minutemen will be playing their home games at Gilette Stadium in 2012. Not sure whether they will expand McGuirk Stadium, where they currently play, which only seats 17,500 and would need an upgrade to be I-A-ready.

UMass will be the third I-A program in New England -- after Boston College and Connecticut -- and will play both those teams in the next couple of years. UConn has only been I-A for about a decade and they're already playing BCS games, though they're getting their ass kicked in them. So it should be an interesting experiment. Best of luck to the Minutemen.


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