The University of Massachusetts’ 2012 football season was, as one might expect, a struggle. It was the school’s first in the Football Bowl Subdivison, and the Minutemen were clearly overmatched, going 1-11 and losing 10 games by double digits.
UMass’ first foray into the FBS was so brutal, in fact, that For The Win, an offshoot of USA Today Sports, on Thursday declared it the worst college football season of the last decade.
Using the online simulator WhatIfSports.com, the site pitted what it considered the decade’s 16 worst teams against one another in a bracket-style tournament. 2012 UMass, 2009 Eastern Michigan (0-12), 2006 Duke (0-12) and 2011 Akron (1-11) were the final four teams remaining, with the Minutemen “defeating” Akron in the title game to claim the unfortunate mantle as college football’s lowest of the low. (Strangely enough, a 22-7 win over the Zips was UMass’ lone victory in that 2012 campaign.)
But as poor as that initial showing was — and, granted, another 1-11 finish in 2013 was not any better — UMass had the deck stacked against it in this particular competition. Football Championship Subdivision teams can never realistically be expected to compete at the next level right off the bat, and the 15 other squads have all been competing at the FBS level for years and, in some cases, decades.
Folks in Amherst hope new head coach Mark Whipple, who led the Minutemen to a Division I-AA national championship in 1998, can change the team’s fortunes when he takes the reins in 2014.