Might UMass Football Be Moving to Big East?


Nov 3, 2010

The University of Massachusetts' football team went to Michigan this year and nearly pulled off a shocker. That, however, may not be the high point of the year for the football program.

The Big East announced Tuesday that it will be adding two football teams. The decision was unanimously approved by the conference's 16 member institutions.

It's a story of national interest, but from a local perspective, it may mean a major change could come for UMass.

While Villanova, a school that already competes in the Big East in all sports but football and women's lacrosse, seems to be a lock for one of the two open spots, the other one is anyone's guess.

Though ESPN.com asserted that TCU makes the most sense, UMass makes much more sense from a geographical standpoint. South Florida being the lone exception, the schools are all located in the Northeast. Adding Villanova wouldn't change that, and adding UMass adds an even tigher Northeast tie.

It also adds a now-untapped northern New England market, one that lacks association with both UConn and Boston College. The obvious rivalry that would exist between UConn and UMass will further the identity of both schools and, in turn, the league.

Of course, as it stands now, UMass can't hold a candle to TCU from a strictly football perspective. The Horned Frogs won the Mountain West Conference in 2005 and '09 and went into last year's Fiesta Bowl as the fourth-ranked team in the nation.

UMass, while not known much nationally, has been a strong player in the FCS (formerly I-AA) for years, winning a national championship in 1998 and making the championship game in 2006.

UMass is also a major state university, with an enrollment over 20,000 and Division-I programs in basketball, hockey and lacrosse, among others, that compete on a national landscape.

As it stands right now, nobody's talking about the Minutemen. It's all about Villanova, TCU, Houston or Central Florida. Still, given its location, size and potential, UMass deserves to be in the conversation.

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