covets greener Big East pastures
[ Originally posted 06.06.03. ]
The visions of what the college football landscape might
look like when the tremors of the looming earthquake subside are getting
more curious by the day.
With the Atlantic Coast Conference poised to conclude its
cataclysmic move to annex Big East linchpins Miami, Syracuse and Boston
College, officials at the University of Massachusetts have apparently become
so mesmerized by the drama that they're considering making a hop, a skip and
a leap of faith into the I-A football ranks.
UMass which happens to be mired in a financial sinkhole in
addition to being embroiled in a political brawl of Herculean proportions
is optimistic enough to think big when it comes to its currently I-AA
According to a Thursday report in the Boston Globe, school
officials envision joining the gold-rush of Conference USA and other non-BCS
schools expected to make a bid to align themselves with Big East holdovers
Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Connecticut.
Apparently, it's a make-or-break proposition for Minutemen
''The feeling is that if this is going to happen [going to
1-A] this is the last chance to do it,'' a source in the UMass
administration told the Boston Globe. ''And if it doesn't fly, the idea will
then be to stay at 1-AA, but with no scholarships, or to drop football
The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that the school faces
state-ordered budget cuts of up to $40 million and noted that UMass
athletics will take the hardest hit of all, with $2.5 million cut from its
$5.7 million state appropriation.
Meanwhile, according to the Associated Press, the state's
governor, Mitt Romney, has hinted he will continue his efforts to remove
UMass system president William Bulger from office, despite stiff opposition
in the legislature. Whitey Bulger, the president's brother, is an underworld
crime figure and one-time FBI informant who has earned a spot on the
bureau's "Ten Most Wanted" list.
Whitey Bulger is sought in
connection with 21 murders and, the Associated Press reported, the U.S.
House Committee on Government Reform is gearing up to question the UMass
president about his knowledge of his brother's whereabouts and what
communication he may have had with the fugitive since he fled in 1995.
If the story in the Boston Globe is correct, however, the
financial morass and the intrigue about organized crime are not necessarily recognized
as insurmountable impediments by the boss of the UMass athletic department.
''There has been considerable conversation about UMass and
Division 1-A football over the last decade,'' UMass athletics director Ian
McCaw told the newspaper. ''The likelihood of conference realignment in the
coming months, coupled with a one-time unique opportunity that would be
afforded programs in transition into a Division 1-A conference, creates a
narrow window of opportunity for this issue to be considered.''
According to the paper, estimates of elevating Minutemen
football to the I-A level range as high as $100 million. Part of that
expenditure would go toward expanding 17,000-seat McGuirk Stadium.
How about that. Just when you thought the Big East's Jilted
5 would be left with few practical football survival options other than
plundering a few gems from Conference USA to maintain an NCAA-recognized
league, here come the Minutemen to offer their services for what the school
envisions would be another 12-team super-conference.
On the other hand, noted the Boston paper, C-USA is being
viewed by UMass officials as a potential alternative destination if the Big
East plan doesn't pan out.
The Minutemen currently compete in the Atlantic 10
Conference in all sports.
Bonesville.net. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.
This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
02/23/2007 10:36:34 AM