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FBS Fail: UMass Football's Misstep

oGriz

Well-known member
A lot of differences between Montana and UMass.

UMass Football's FBS Misstep
By Dan Rubin, SBNation, Aug 22 2013
http://www.bcinterruption.com/2013/8/22/4643844/the-real-world-umass-football" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Excerpts

When UMass shifted gears and transitioned from an FCS program to the Mid-American Conference and the bowl subdivision, they did so with the expectation that the team would show promise. They expected that the vast alumni base of the UMass system would turn out and support a program. In the FCS, they averaged 14,000 playing lower-level competition on campus. At the FBS level, and playing in glittery (New England Patriots) Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, they averaged 10,000, including a season-low 8,000 in the finale. UMass has 20,000 full-time students. UMass averaged less fans per home game than Harvard did in the Ivy League.

Despite collecting nearly $800,000 from UConn and Michigan to play two road games, the Minutemen still lost $700,000 on a budget that had already inflated by nearly $600,000 in expenditures. The UMass Faculty Senate voted 19-18 to keep the team at the FBS level, with one abstention (a critic that was out of town).

The move is proving that UMass football is facing a mountainous struggle to remain as a viable football program. The UMass athletic department spent $260K on scholarship requirements to satisfy Title IX. They spent $700K to market the program, a campaign that included billboards on MBTA buses and radio commercials. And they spent roughly $2 million as they began renovations for on-Campus McGuirk Stadium with the intention of making it a viable FBS facility. When all was set and done, UMass's football operating budget increased to over $7 million with revenues well below that mark thanks in part to a deal designed to satisfy their landlord at Gillette Stadium.

That wouldn't have been bad if there was an obvious light at the end of the tunnel, but the attendance woes and potential for growth are a lot dimmer this year than they were last year. The alumni base didn't turn out, and at the risk of trying to incite them, the school alienated much of its current student fan base, which dwindled from 35 buses to practically nothing.

The biggest issue facing UMass now is that they might not have a say in whether or not they're even in the FBS by the time a renovated McGuirk Stadium reopens next year. They have to average 15,000 people for at least one of their first two seasons or risk being tossed out by the NCAA and the FBS. To combat this, they'll bring in Vanderbilt (even though they had Indiana last year), and they've retooled a new marketing strategy that includes "personal ambassadors" taking a newer, more personal approach.

For students, who didn't want to lose their whole Saturday, the school scheduled later buses and nixed a pregame tailgate. If the games are ugly or the weather stinks, the students can leave early. The school is essentially saying, "If we're getting killed, we'll drive you home because we know you don't want to watch that." And that doesn't include the nearly-two hour drive to get to the games.

It remains to be seen if this will work. UMass has a marketable home game this year -- Maine, which provides the regional rivalry that drew 20K to the Colonial Clash. And if they're banking on Maine, why did they even go to the FBS in the first place? If they're banking on Maine to sell tickets, they probably should've stayed in the FCS and scheduled teams like Holy Cross at that point.

UMass is a team paid to get wailed on by BCS teams: Last year at Michigan, this year at Wisconsin, in the future at Florida, and at Notre Dame. UMass can point to those games and say, "We're competing with the big boys," but the majority of sports enthusiasts will see those games for what they are - paydays so the big boys can plump their records and stats. Appalachian State only happens once in a lifetime.

The fact remains that they transitioned by inches at a time when leagues and teams need to do it by charging in, with their heads held high. Instead of trying and testing the waters, they needed to punch someone right in the mouth on their first day in the yard. But they didn't, and here they are. UMass fans expected their team to lose; they never expected them to become irrelevant.
 
That wouldn't happen to us though. We're Montana! Right?

Good article. I really hope that don't happen to App St. Could give a s**t about UMass and Ga So.
 
alabamagrizzly said:
That wouldn't happen to us though. We're Montana! Right?

Good article. I really hope that don't happen to App St. Could give a s**t about UMass and Ga So.

Unless App State decides to play in DC, they won't have this problem.
 
grizpsych said:
alabamagrizzly said:
That wouldn't happen to us though. We're Montana! Right?

Good article. I really hope that don't happen to App St. Could give a s**t about UMass and Ga So.

Unless App State decides to play in DC, they won't have this problem.
I agree. If Montana fans had to drive to "home" games in Boise to watch our team get they're butt kicked then I'm sure our attendence will go down. Most fans will still go to Missoula to watch us loose weakly. Not sayin we would for sure but for every Boise St there's a dozen Idahoes. And considering Boise is our neighbor, that would make it even harder to recruit. Though, besides No Dak St, we are the next best team that has a chance to make a successful jump. Especially once "1-A" gets a real playoff. Not this four team bull s**t that starts next year
 
Do we really compete w/ Boise for recruits now? Most of their recruiting comes from California.
 
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I have said it before & will continue to beat the "DONT DO IT" drum! Once more time for the slow learners. We are in the position to run the FCS kingdom for decades to come. Went through this before as a player myself. Bad move then...still bad move now!

Fools Gold Folks...straight pyrite.
 
MrTitleist said:
Do we really compete w/ Boise for recruits now? Most of their recruiting comes from California.
We've already lost one kid to them for our 14' class. Also if we move up, most of our kids will come from Cali also if we want to compete.
 
It's not even about moving up! Simply put, fan attendance for any team will be less if you move the game two hours away from where it is usually played versus where it is usually played.
 
One would have to understand the real reason why UMass wanted to go FBS. The irony is that reason no longer exists. There was a core group of individuals that believed they could follow a path similar to UConn. The goal was not so much to be FBS, as it was to be part of the Big East. They recognized that to achieve that purpose they would have to use the MAC as a stepping stone. Of course since then, the landscape of college atheletics has changed drastically, and the league the envisioned being part of, no longer really exists, and even UConn is now unable (at least so far) to get in one of the power 5 conferences. There is no chance that that happens.

What I find interesting is that they choose to market themselves for the Boston area, when they have the Springfield Metro area just down the road, and Springfield has no major college itself. UMass should be concentrating on that area, and the Western part of the state. Solidify that base first before trying to have positioned themselves as one of two major state schools.
 
By Jerry Briggs

August 25, 2013

Tasked three years ago with constructing a major college football schedule for a team that didn't exist, UTSA senior associate athletic director Ross Cobb rolled up his sleeves and went to work.

The schedule for the 2011 inaugural season was set.


Work on 2012 was coming along.

But 2013 would be a challenge, as UTSA planned to use Year 3 as a jumping off point, launching its transition as an independent into the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Working with coach Larry Coker, Cobb's mission was to secure at least eight of 12 games against FBS programs.

“We were trying to get at least five FBS games at home,” Cobb said, “preferably six. We just reached out.

“We sent emails to every Division I school in the country, multiple times, to tell our story, asking if they were interested. I got a lot of responses.”

Cobb's diligence has paid off.

Heading into its first season in Conference USA, UTSA football is hurtling ahead of its original timetable, tapping into new revenue streams and breaking ground nationally.

As a member of the Western Athletic Conference last fall, the Roadrunners played eight games against FBS teams.

They're about to go 12 for 12 this season, with four nonconference games and eight in C-USA, the first time any third-year program in at least the past two decades has attempted it.

The season opener at New Mexico is set for Saturday. A home opener against 13th-ranked Oklahoma State looms Sept. 7.

“Are we ready?” Coker asked at practice one day last week. “Well, we better get ready.”

How will UTSA fare on the field, with other early nonconference tests against Arizona and Houston?

It's a matter of debate. But one thing is certain: The revenue produced by the football program is growing.

And part of the growth is tied to the aggressive scheduling undertaken by Cobb and Coker years ago.

In its infancy, UTSA football produced only $5.1 million in revenues in 2011-12, according to filings with the U.S. Department of Education.

It's a figure that is dwarfed by the major programs, including the $103.8 million posted by the University of Texas, the top revenue-producer in the nation.

But because of UTSA's posture on ramping up its schedule faster than perhaps any other start-up in history, significant financial rewards are on the way.

For instance, UTSA will pocket $500,000 this year and $4.55 million over the next seven years in nonconference football contracts alone, according to university records.

In addition, annual media rights payouts from C-USA are expected to start at about $1 million per season.

From the beginning, UTSA's desire to set future schedules against the likes of Kansas State, Baylor and Texas A&M has provided benefits.

It's likely helped in areas ranging from recruiting to motivation in the locker room. UTSA athletic director Lynn Hickey said it also was a factor in the school receiving the invitation to join C-USA.

“Are there challenges with throwing a young group into this (schedule)?” Hickey said. “Sure. But we promised the first signing class that, gentlemen, we're going to play ... at the highest level.”

The athletes got the message. UTSA last year went out and surprised perhaps even its own fan base with an 8-4 record.

“Honestly, when I signed here, I thought it was going to be like half a D-I schedule at this point,” said senior safety Nic Johnston, who joined the team before the 2010 practice season. “So, when you start seeing big names like Oklahoma State, Arizona — and you're also in Conference USA — it does nothing but make you hungrier.

“You're going to work harder. You don't want to get beat. That's what it comes down to.”

2 for 1 with University of Arizona, paying UTSA $1.4 million, with the return trip costing UTSA $300,000
H/H with New Mexico, break even
H/H with Houston, break even
2 for 1 with Oklahoma State, paying UTSA $900,000 with the return trip costing $200,000
2 for 1 with Kansas State, paying UTSA $900,000 with the return trip costing $300,000
2 for 2 with Colorado State, break even
2 for 1 with Baylor, paying UTSA $600,000 with the return trip costing ZERO
H/H with Arizona State, break even
2 away games at Texas A&M, paying UTSA $1.7 million


FYI: UTSA averaged a tad over 29,000 in attendance last year in the 65,000 seat Alamodome. They are currently building a new football facility on campus, with a capacity of 35,000.

In a five year period, UTSA has Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Houston and UNM coming to town. Yet some Griz fans would still rather see Oklahoma Panhandle State come to town for $50,000. I just don't get it.
 
NewPapaBear said:
I have said it before & will continue to beat the "DONT DO IT" drum! Once more time for the slow learners. We are in the position to run the FCS kingdom for decades to come. Went through this before as a player myself. Bad move then...still bad move now!

Fools Gold Folks...straight pyrite.
+1, a thousand times over!
 
Comparing a Montana move-up to a UMass move up is horrifically stupid.. the two cases are not even remotely close to each other. UMass was a small fish in a big pond before their move-up.. even worse now.
 
What a major league and disastrous blunder by UMass. Huge financial problems too. They may have ruined UMass football. Maybe something will occur to improve their prospects. What were they thinking?
 
PlayerRep said:
What a major league and disastrous blunder by UMass. Huge financial problems too. They may have ruined UMass football. Maybe something will occur to improve their prospects. What were they thinking?

They didn't even have a large buy-in, or a plan of where they were going to play football. This failure was so predictable, esp when they decided to take games off campus. Plus planning for the Big East.. good god, the most unstable conference over the last 5 years.
 
Poodle thinking he is a rotweiler. Comes off the porch to run with the big dogs. Gets his food stolen, his bitch gets ridden, and his bed gets taken over. He wants to go back on the porch, but he is now irrelevant and stuck in the mud pit of a yard he so badly wanted to run in with the "big dogs." Quit trying to be a big dog you dumb f'ers. The BOR is not going to approve this anyway. Carry on.
 
AZGrizFan said:
2 for 1 with University of Arizona, paying UTSA $1.4 million, with the return trip costing UTSA $300,000
H/H with New Mexico, break even
H/H with Houston, break even
2 for 1 with Oklahoma State, paying UTSA $900,000 with the return trip costing $200,000
2 for 1 with Kansas State, paying UTSA $900,000 with the return trip costing $300,000
2 for 2 with Colorado State, break even
2 for 1 with Baylor, paying UTSA $600,000 with the return trip costing ZERO
H/H with Arizona State, break even
2 away games at Texas A&M, paying UTSA $1.7 million


FYI: UTSA averaged a tad over 29,000 in attendance last year in the 65,000 seat Alamodome. They are currently building a new football facility on campus, with a capacity of 35,000. In a five year period, UTSA has Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Houston and UNM coming to town.
Yet some Griz fans would still rather see Oklahoma Panhandle State come to town for $50,000. I just don't get it.

I'd rather not see OK Panhandle State ever, and UTSA is doing very well. Yet let me help you "get it".
The move up requires perhaps $20 million immediately for facilities, scholarships, and Title IX.
At minimum an additional $5 to $10 million in increased expenses are then needed each & every year.
Montana already sells out its stadium with ticket prices also at FBS levels already.
A home game featuring Alabama will not generate any more than a home game with OK Panhandle.
The UTSA 2 for 1 examples given above would still have our program losing money each year.
An FBS Montana won't 'steal' any new recruits from USC, UW, UA, CU, or any major western program.
With luck we'd be competing on a few kids considering WSU or WY, and likely have similar win/loss for it.

There are about 15 FBS football programs within 250 miles of San Antonio, and 3 that near to Missoula.
Even excluding the entire population of San Antonio (2nd largest in Texas) there are still as many people within 100 miles of UTSA's campus than there are in the entire state of Montana.
For every UTSA or Boise St there are twenty schools which failed after jumping (either financially or in win/losses, and in most cases both).
Let me repeat. I don't want to see Oklahoma Panhandle St ever. Yet this "If we build it they will come" attitude to moving up is a fools dream.
It is a nice dream, but without a 'Warren Buffet football endowment' it is nothing more than a dream. :ugeek:
 
Copper Griz said:
Poodle thinking he is a rotweiler. Comes off the porch to run with the big dogs. Gets his food stolen, his bitch gets ridden, and his bed gets taken over. He wants to go back on the porch, but he is now irrelevant and stuck in the mud pit of a yard he so badly wanted to run in with the "big dogs." Quit trying to be a big dog you dumb f'ers. The BOR is not going to approve this anyway. Carry on.

That is correct. The legislature will not go along with it either. I know it's ultimately the BOR's decision but you can be assured that from a political standpoint the people who control the purse strings in the state, the legislators and the governor, will have to be on board as well and they clearly are not.

If the financial ability and political will to make the move to the FBS level existed among the people it needs to exist with, the move up would have been made years ago. That ability and will clearly is not there, thus there has not been and will not be a move up. It's very simple to understand if you are willing to look at the situation objectively.

Speaking of the BOR and the governor, the BOR is still one member short after all these months. Apparently the governor believes PW is irreplaceable.
 
If UM had done what some of the FBS windmill chasers had wanted, UM would have given notice that it was moving to the WAC (and been disqualified from the conf championship and playoffs), and then not had a conference. People would be laughing at and criticizing UM like they are UMass.

I see the UMass article said their annual expenses are up $7 million.
 
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