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UMass Minutemen football

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

UMass Minutemen football
2019 UMass Minutemen football team 
UMass Amherst Athletics logo.svg
First season1879
Athletic directorRyan Bamford
Head coachWalt Bell
1st season, 1–11 (.083)
StadiumWarren McGuirk Alumni Stadium
(Capacity: 17,000)
Field surfaceFieldTurf
LocationAmherst, Massachusetts
NCAA divisionDivision I FBS
All-time record570–587–50 (.493)
Bowl record1–1 (.500)
Claimed nat'l titles1 (Div. I FCS): 1998
Conference titles22 (non-FBS)
RivalriesBoston College (rivalry)
UConn (rivalry)
ColorsMaroon and White[1]
Fight songFight Mass
MascotSam the Minuteman
Marching bandThe Power and Class of New England
WebsiteUMass Football

The UMass Minutemen football team represents the University of Massachusetts in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Massachusetts is the fourth oldest program currently in FBS.[2] The Minutemen currently compete as an FBS independent.

UMass began play in 1879[3] and have since appeared in three FCS National Championship games, winning the title in 1998. The Minutemen began a two-year Football Bowl Subdivision transition period in 2011, becoming bowl eligible in 2013. In March 2014, the Mid-American Conference and UMass announced an agreement for the Minutemen to leave the conference after the 2015 season due to UMass declining an offer to become a full member of the conference. In the agreement between the MAC and the university, there was a contractual clause that had UMass playing in the MAC as a football-only member for two more seasons if UMass declined a full membership offer. UMass announced that it would look for a "more suitable conference" for the team.[4] Possibilities included becoming independent[5] or joining the American Athletic Conference,[5] Conference USA,[5] or the Sun Belt Conference.[6]

In September 2014, UMass announced that they would become independent beginning with the 2016 season.[7][8] The Minutemen have subsequently played as an independent through the 2019 season. As of late December 2019, the program's 12-game schedules through the 2022 season are fixed, 10 of 12 games are fixed for both 2023 and 2024, and at least three games per season are fixed out to 2028.[9]


Early history (1879–1977)

UMass began playing football on November 22, 1879, when the school was known as Massachusetts Agricultural College, and the team was known as the "Aggies." They were first organized the previous fall by Francis Codman, but did not play their first game until November 22, 1879, defeating the Amherst College freshman team 4–0. As this was their only game that year, 1879 is noted as their first undefeated season, matched only by the 1889 season (2–0) and the 1963 season (8–0–1). Massachusetts later teamed up with Storrs Agricultural College (now the University of Connecticut) and Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now the University of Rhode Island) to form the Athletic League of New England State Colleges for the purpose of scheduling football matchups between the schools. The first meeting between the Aggies and each of the other schools resulted in a shutout win for Massachusetts, as they defeated Connecticut, 36–0, in 1897 and Rhode Island, 46–0, in 1903. Massachusetts won their 100th game on October 2, 1920, topping rival Connecticut in a 28–0 shutout. The team played their 1000th game on November 11, 2000, losing to conference foe Delaware, 19–31. The team's nickname has endured several changes throughout the years. Though the official nickname remained "Aggies", "Statesmen" was also used interchangeably beginning when the school was renamed to Massachusetts State College in 1931. The nickname was officially changed to the "Redmen" when the name of the college became the University of Massachusetts in 1947.

Pittsburgh assistant coach Vic Fusia took over the Redmen football program in 1961 and under his tutelage, UMass compiled a record of 59–32–2.[10][11] The Fusia era included an undefeated 8–0–1 campaign in 1963 as well as records of 8–2, 7–2, 6–3 and 7–2 in the following years. However, two losing records in three seasons led to Fusia's dismissal after the 1970 season.[12] Denver Broncos linebackers and defensive backs coach Dick MacPherson, a former UMass assistant from 1959–1960, took over after Fusia's firing.[13] Under MacPherson, the Redmen compiled a record of 45–27–1.[14] In response to changing attitudes regarding the use of Native American-themed mascots, they changed their mascot in 1972 to the Minuteman, based on the historical "minuteman" relationship with Massachusetts; women's teams and athletes are known as Minutewomen.[15]

Bob Pickett era (1978–1983)

Bob Pickett was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach of the Minutemen football program in 1978.[16] Under Pickett's tutelage, the Minutemen won four conference championships and compiled a record of 36–28.[16] Despite the successes, back-to-back losing seasons in 1982 and 1983 led to Pickett's dismissal.[17]

Bob Stull era (1984–1985)

Washington offensive coordinator Bob Stull was the next head coach for UMass, and he led the Minutemen to a 10–12 record in two seasons before leaving the program to accept the head coaching position at UTEP.[18] Under Stull, the Minutemen struggled to a two-win campaign in 1984 but improved to seven wins in 1985.[18]

Jim Reid era (1986–1991)

Jim Reid was promoted from defensive coordinator following Stull's departure and led the Minutemen for six seasons, compiling a 36–29–2 that included five non-losing seasons during his tenure.[19] Reid and UMass parted ways after the 1991 season.[19]

Mike Hodges era (1992–1997)

UMass once again promoted their defensive coordinator, this time making Mike Hodges the team's head coach.[20] Under Hodges, the Minutemen compiled a record of 35–30.[20] Steady decline in the team's play that culminated with a 2–9 record in 1997 resulted in Hodges' firing.[21]

Mark Whipple era (1998–2003)

In his first stint as coach of UMass from 1998 to 2003,[22] Mark Whipple won the NCAA Division I-AA national title.[22] His UMass teams rewrote the record books, setting more than 40 team records.[23] The 1998 national championship team posted school records in points scored (524), touchdowns (73), total yards (7,074), passing yards (4,050), completions (306), and first downs (354).[23]

Whipple left college football for a position as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL in 2004.[24]

Don Brown era (2004–2008)

In 2004, Northeastern head coach Don Brown returned to UMass, where he'd served as defensive coordinator from 1998–1999 to take over as head coach.[25] During his tenure as head coach from 2004 to 2008, UMass posted the best five-year record in school history, 43–19. In his first year, he led the Minutemen to a 6–5 record, including victories over fourth-ranked Colgate, seventh-ranked New Hampshire, and ninth-ranked Maine. During 2005, Brown helped UMass to a 7–2 start and a final ranking of #19. That year, the Minutemen defeated fourth-ranked James Madison and handed Delaware their worst home loss in two decades, 35–7.[26]

In 2006, Brown led Massachusetts to the Atlantic 10 conference championship and a finish as runners-up to the national championship. They ended the season ranked No. 2 with a 13–2 record. At home, he set a school record with a perfect 8–0 record in McGuirk Stadium. That season, Brown was named the AFCA Region I Coach of the Year, Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, and New England Football Coach of the Year.[26]

In 2007, UMass again won its conference, now as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. The team advanced to the semifinals and finished the season with a No. 6 final ranking.[26]

Brown was relieved of his duties as head coach following the 2008 season.[27]

Kevin Morris era (2009–2011)

UMass promoted offensive coordinator Kevin Morris to head coach following Brown's departure.[28] Under Morris, the Minutemen compiled a record of 16–17.

On April 20, 2011, after decades of studies and speculation, the UMass Minutemen formally announced they elevated their football program to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and became a member of the Mid-American Conference beginning with the 2012 season. The announcement was made at Gillette Stadium, where the Minutemen currently play some of their home games. In 2011, UMass completed their last season in the Colonial Athletic Association, and were not eligible for NCAA postseason play.[29] UMass played a full FBS and MAC schedule in 2013 and became eligible for the MAC championship and bowl participation.

Morris was fired as UMass' head coach following a 5–6 season in 2011.[30]

Charlie Molnar era (2012–2013)

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Charley Molnar was hired as UMass' head coach in December 2011.[31]

The NCAA made a formal announcement of UMass' admission to FBS in the summer of 2013 after the program met specified benchmarks over its two transitioning years. The primary criteria centered around average attendance, an increase in scholarships from 63 to 85, and specific scheduling requirements. The NCAA did announce that the team must meet attendance requirements or face a 10-year probationary period.[32] Along with joining the Mid-American Conference the men's and women's basketball teams will play four non conference games against MAC teams.[33]

UMass struggled mightily under Molnar's tutelage, compiling back-to-back 1–11 campaigns in 2012 and 2013, the first two seasons UMass was a member of the MAC and FBS.[34][35] Molnar was fired after two seasons as head coach.[36]

Whipple's return (2014–2018)

Mark Whipple was selected as Molnar's replacement, returning to UMass after eleven years and stints in the NFL and college football as an assistant coach.[37] In March 2014, the MAC and UMass announced an agreement for the Minutemen to leave the conference after the 2015 season due to UMass declining an offer to become a full member of the conference. In the agreement between the MAC and the university, there was a contractual clause that had UMass playing in the MAC as a football-only member for two more seasons if UMass declined a full membership offer. UMass announced that it would look for a "more suitable conference" for the team.[4]

In 2014 and 2015, the Minutemen finished with a 3–9 record.[38][39]

UMass finished 2–10 in 2016.[40] The Minutemen kicked off the season on September 3 with a 24-7 loss to #25 Florida.[41] After a 26-7 loss to archrival Boston College,[42] Whipple's team picked up its first win of the season by defeating FIU by a margin of 21-13.[43] The next week, they lost to Mississippi State by a score of 47-35.[44] On October 1, UMass lost to Tulane by a margin of 31-24.[45] That was followed by a 36-16 defeat at the hands of Old Dominion.[46] Next, Whipple's Minutemen were doubled up by Louisiana Tech in a 56-28 loss.[47] After a 34-28 loss to South Carolina,[48] Whipple's Minutemen defeated FCS opponent Wagner by a score of 34-10.[49] On November 5, UMass lost to Troy by a margin of 52-31.[50] That was followed by a 51-9 blowout at the hands of BYU.[51] In the season finale, the Minutemen lost to Hawaii by a score of 46-40.[52]

The Minutemen finished 4–8 in 2017.[53] They began the season on August 26 with a 38-35 loss to Hawaii.[54] In the season's second game, UMass lost to Coastal Carolina by a score of 38-28.[55] A third straight loss followed in the form of a 17-7 defeat at the hands of Old Dominion on September 9.[56] Next, Whipple's team lost to Temple by a margin of 29-21.[57] On September 23, the Minutemen played a hard-fought game but ultimately fell short against Tennessee by a score of 17-13.[58] After a 58-50 loss to Ohio,[59] UMass finally broke through with their first victory of the season, defeating Georgia Southern by a margin of 55-20.[60] They recorded a second straight win the following week with a 30-27 double overtime victory over Appalachian State.[61] After a 34-23 loss to #21 Mississippi State,[62] Whipple's Minutemen defeated FCS opponent Maine by a margin of 44-31.[63] They picked up their fourth win of the season a week later by virtue of a 16-10 victory over BYU.[64] UMass concluded the season with a 63-45 loss to FIU on December 2.[65]

Coach Whipple stepped down on November 20, 2018.[66]

Walt Bell era (2019–present)

On December 3, 2018, Florida State offensive coordinator Walt Bell was hired as UMass' newest head coach.[67]

Conference affiliations

Conference championships

UMass has won a total of 22 conference championships, 12 shared and 10 outright.[citation needed]

Season Conference Overall record Conference record
1960 Yankee Conference 7–2 3–1
1963 Yankee Conference 8–0–1 5–0
1964 Yankee Conference 8–2 5–0
1966 Yankee Conference 6–3 5–0
1967 Yankee Conference 7–2 5–0
1969 Yankee Conference 6–3 5–0
1971 Yankee Conference 4–4–1 3–1–1
1972 Yankee Conference 9–2 5–0
1974 Yankee Conference 5–6 4–2
1977 Yankee Conference 8–3 5–0
1978 Yankee Conference 9–4 5–0
1979 Yankee Conference 6–4 4–1
1981 Yankee Conference 6–3 4–1
1982 Yankee Conference 5–6 3–2
1986 Yankee Conference 8–3 5–2
1988 Yankee Conference 8–4 6–2
1990 Yankee Conference 8–2–1 7–1
1998 Atlantic 10 Conference 12–3 6–2
1999 Atlantic 10 Conference 9–4 7–1
2003 Atlantic 10 Conference 10–3 8–1
2006 Atlantic 10 Conference 13–2 8–0
2007 Colonial Athletic Association 10–3 7–1

† Co-champions

Postseason appearances

Division II playoffs

Season Date Round Opponent Result Location
1977 November 26 Quarterfinal Lehigh L 23–30 Amherst, Massachusetts

Division I-AA playoffs

Season Date Round Opponent Result Location
1978 December 9 Semifinal Nevada W 44–21 Reno, Nevada
December 16 Championship Florida A&M L 28–35 Wichita Falls, Texas
1988 November 26 First Round Eastern Kentucky L 17–28 Richmond, Kentucky
1990 November 24 First Round William & Mary L 0–38 Williamsburg, Virginia
1998 November 28 First Round McNeese State W 21–19 Lake Charles, Louisiana
December 5 Quarterfinal Lehigh W 27–21 Amherst, Massachusetts
December 12 Semifinal Northwestern State W 41–31 Natchitoches, Louisiana
December 19 Championship Georgia Southern W 55–43 Chattanooga, Tennessee
1999 November 27 First Round Furman W 30–23 OT Greenville, South Carolina
December 4 Quarterfinal Georgia Southern L 21–38 Statesboro, Georgia
2003 November 29 First Round Colgate L 7–19 Hamilton, New York
2006 November 25 First Round Lafayette W 35–14 Amherst, Massachusetts
December 2 Quarterfinal New Hampshire W 24–17 Amherst, Massachusetts
December 12 Semifinal Montana W 19–17 Missoula, Montana
December 15 Championship Appalachian State L 17–28 Chattanooga, Tennessee
2007 November 24 First Round Fordham W 49–35 Amherst, Massachusetts
December 1 Quarterfinal Southern Illinois L 27–34 Carbondale, Illinois

Bowl games

UMass has been to two bowl games, with the Minutemen garnering a record of 1–1.

Season Bowl Opponent Result
1964 Tangerine Bowl East Carolina L 13–14
1972 Boardwalk Bowl UC Davis W 35–14

Head coaches

Years Coach Games W L T Pct.
1879–1897 No coach 94 30 58 6 .351
1898 David F. Weeks 6 1 4 1 .250
1899–1900 Fred W. Murphy 20 12 8 0 .600
1901–1903 James Halligan 26 16 8 2 .653
1904, 1907–1908 Matthew Bullock 26 13 8 5 .596
1905 Walter Craig 10 3 7 0 .300
1906 George E. O'Hearn 9 1 7 1 .167
1909 J. W. Gage 9 1 6 2 .222
1910 Willard Gildersleeve 9 1 6 2 .222
1911 Jack Hubbard 9 2 7 0 .222
1912–1915 Arthur Brides 31 12 15 4 .452
1916 George Melican 8 2 4 2 .375
1919–1927 Harold Gore 70 33 32 5 .507
1928–1930 Charles McGeoch 25 6 17 2 .280
1931–1935 Mel Taube 44 29 13 2 .682
1936–1940 Elbert Carraway 44 9 32 3 .239
1941–1942, 1946 Walter Hargesheimer 23 11 11 1 .500
1945, 1947–1951 Thomas Eck 44 17 23 4 .432
1952–1959 Charlie O'Rourke 64 21 39 4 .359
1960 Chuck Studley 9 7 2 0 .778
1961–1970 Vic Fusia 93 59 32 2 .645
1971–1977 Dick MacPherson 73 45 27 1 .623
1978–1983 Bob Pickett 64 36 28 0 .563
1984–1985 Bob Stull 22 10 12 0 .455
1986–1991 Jim Reid 67 36 29 2 .552
1992–1997 Mike Hodges 65 35 30 0 .538
1998–2003 Mark Whipple 75 49 26 0 .629
2004–2008 Don Brown 62 43 19 0 .693
2009–2011 Kevin Morris 33 16 17 0 .485
2012–2013 Charley Molnar 24 2 22 0 .083
2014–2018 Mark Whipple 48 12 36 0 .280
2019–present Walt Bell 11 1 10 0 .090


Boston College

Massachusetts and Boston College are in-state rivals.[68] The first game played between the two schools took place in 1899 and was played at a neutral location. Boston College won 18–0.[69] At the time, UMass was known as Massachusetts Agricultural College. The relative proximity between the schools encouraged them to schedule additional matches in the subsequent years.

BC and UMass met again in Amherst in 1901, 1902, and 1912, with UMass winning all three contests before the series was halted.[69] The two universities did not meet again on the football field until 1966, when they began a seventeen-year series in which the teams would play each other in the last week of UMass' football season. UMass was in a lower division than BC during the entirety of the rivalry. As such, Boston College dominated the stretch, winning fifteen of the seventeen games, routinely blowing out the overmatched Minutemen.

After 22 years, the rivalry was renewed as UMass traveled to Chestnut Hill to play Boston College once again. UMass was yet again outmatched, losing 29–7. The universities agreed to play two more times over the next seven years, and Boston College won both games easily.

In April 2011, UMass announced plans to join the Mid-American Conference and move up to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football in the country. Boston College had been a member of this division for decades, and there was much speculation that the two schools may cultivate a renewal of the rivalry. This was confirmed when it was reported in September 2011, that they had agreed to play a three-game biannual series beginning in 2014.[70] Two of the games will be played at BC's Alumni Stadium and the other will be held at Gillette Stadium.

Most recently, the two teams met in September 2018, with BC winning 55–21.

UMass vs Boston College: All-Time Record
Games played First meeting Last meeting UMass wins UMass losses UMass ties
27 1899 (Lost 18-0) 2018 (Lost 55-21) 5 22 0


The first game played between Massachusetts and UConn took place on November 6, 1897, in Amherst.[71] UMass won 36–0. At the time, UMass was known as Massachusetts Agricultural College and Connecticut was officially Storrs Agricultural College. They had formed a loose association with other public colleges in New England such as present day New Hampshire and Rhode Island for the purpose of scheduling football matchups between the schools.[72]

The colleges continued to schedule matches intermittently until after World War I, when they began to play on an almost-yearly basis through the mid-1920s.[71] The series was discontinued until 1932, when the schools again met each year until World War II saw both universities disband their football teams. The schools would not match up again on the gridiron until UConn joined Massachusetts in the Yankee Conference in 1952. UConn and UMass played every season from that point on until UConn began their transition to what was then Division I-A in 2000.[72]

UMass leads the all-time series 36–34–2.[73] Massachusetts dominated the rivalry early, winning the first eight and 13 of the first 15 meetings between the two universities. Connecticut went on a streak of their own after that, winning 14 of the next 16 games. The 1960s again belonged to the then-Redmen of Massachusetts, as they lost only two games that decade. In the remaining years of the rivalry, the series was much more even, with neither team able to put together a winning streak of more than four games.[72]

In April 2011, UMass announced plans to join the Mid-American Conference and move up to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football in the country. Prior to this decision, the two schools had scheduled a game for August 30, 2012. UMass later became a FBS Independent school starting in 2016. In 2015, the two schools announced that the Minutemen will visit Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in 2018 and 2020, and the Huskies will visit Gillette Stadium in 2019 and 2021.[74]

UMass vs UConn: All-Time Record
Games played First meeting Last meeting UMass wins UMass losses UMass ties
74 1897 (Win 36-0) 2019 (Lost 56-35) 37 35 2


Alumni Field

The first field that the Minutemen played at was called Alumni Field, and was situated on the south end of campus. This field was replaced in 1915 by a new venue, also called Alumni Field. It was replaced in 1965 by Alumni Stadium, and later became the location of the Whitmore Administration Building.

McGuirk Alumni Stadium

The Minutemen played their last home football game for three years at McGuirk Alumni Stadium, a 17,000 seat stadium on the UMass Amherst campus in 2011. The stadium itself sits just over the town line in neighboring Hadley. The inaugural game took place on September 25, 1965 when UMass defeated the AIC Yellow Jackets, 41–0. Since the opening, UMass has enjoyed a decided home field advantage, posting a 182–79–2 record when playing at McGuirk. The attendance record at McGuirk was set during a UMass football game against Boston College on November 25, 1972; 20,000 fans were in attendance. McGuirk was partially renovated for a return of UMass football. The expansion included a new performance center with new locker rooms and training facilities, and a new press box.[75] In the 2012 and 2013 seasons UMass played all their home games at Gillette Stadium, but they returned to McGuirk beginning with three games in 2014.[76] Both venues will be used for home games moving forward.

Gillette Stadium

UMass first played at Gillette Stadium in the "Colonial Clash" against the University of New Hampshire on October 23, 2010. This game was renewed for the 2011 season as UMass played New Hampshire there again. For 2012–2013 the team played all of their home games at Gillette. Since then, UMass has split their home games between Gillette Stadium and the on-campus McGuirk Alumni Stadium.[77]

Notable alumni

NFL All-Pros and Pro Bowlers

Player All-Pro Pro Bowl
Milt Morin none 1968, 1971
Greg Landry none 1971
Victor Cruz 2011 2012

Current NFL players

Player Position Team Grad. year
Vladimir Ducasse OG Buffalo Bills 2009
Tajae Sharpe WR Tennessee Titans 2016
Elijah Wilkinson OT Denver Broncos 2017
Andy Isabella WR Arizona Cardinals 2019

Individual awards

UMass has had more than 70 players named to various All-American teams since Lou Bush garnered the first selection for the Minutemen (then called the Aggies) in the early 1930s.

Conference honors

The following is a list of all Minutemen who were named Player, Coach, or Rookie of the Year for their respective conference.[citation needed]

Year Name Position Award
1985 Dave Palazzi QB Rookie of the Year
1988 Tim Bryant QB Rookie of the Year
1988 John McKeown LB Defensive Player of the Year
1988 Jim Reid HC Coach of the Year
1990 Gary Wilkos QB Offensive Player of the Year
1990 John Johnson RB Rookie of the Year
1990 Jim Reid HC Coach of the Year
1992 Rene Ingoglia RB Rookie of the Year
1994 Brian Corcoran DL Defensive Player of the Year
1998 Khari Samuel LB Defensive Player of the Year
1999 Adrian Zullo WR Rookie of the Year
2002 R.J. Cobbs RB Rookie of the Year
2003 Mark Whipple HC Coach of the Year
2004 Shannon James DB Defensive Player of the Year
2005 Christian Koegel P Special Teams Player of the Year
2006 Steve Baylark RB Offensive Player of the Year
2006 Don Brown HC Coach of the Year

College Football Hall of Fame

The following is a list of all Minutemen inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Name Position Years at UMass Inducted Ref.
Dick MacPherson HC 1971–1977 2009 [78]
Milt Morin TE 1963–1965 2010 [79]

Future opponents

Announced schedules as of September 19, 2019.[80]

Week 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Week 0 at New Mexico State
Week 1 at UConn at Pittsburgh at Tulane at Auburn Eastern Michigan at Colorado
Week 2 Troy Boston College at Toledo Miami (OH) at Boston College
Week 3 Albany (FCS) Eastern Michigan Stony Brook (FCS) at Eastern Michigan at Buffalo Buffalo at Buffalo at Buffalo
Week 4 at Appalachian State at Coastal Carolina at Temple New Mexico Wagner (FCS) Buffalo
Week 5 at New Mexico Toledo at Eastern Michigan at Miami (OH) Northern Illinois at Bowling Green
Week 6 Temple UConn New Mexico State Arkansas State at Northern Illinois Bowling Green
Week 7 at Akron Buffalo Missouri
Week 8 Florida International at Florida State at South Florida at Missouri
Week 9 at Liberty Liberty at Army
Week 10 New Mexico State Rhode Island (FCS) Merrimack (FCS) at Mississippi State at Liberty Liberty at Liberty
Week 11 at Auburn Maine (FCS) at Arkansas State at Penn State Army
Week 12 Army at Army at Texas A&M at Liberty Liberty Army at Army Army
Week 13 at Liberty at New Mexico State Army at Georgia at Army
Week 14


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External links

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