University of Massachusetts Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford announced today that the Minutemen have agreed to three games with the University of Georgia Bulldogs, one in football and two in men's basketball, set to begin in the 2018 season.
The contest for football is scheduled for Nov. 17, 2018, and the men's basketball games, a home-and-home series, will begin in Amherst for the 2017-2018 season with the return game in Athens in 2018-2019.
"I am pleased we have scheduled a 2018 football game ‘between the hedges' at Georgia," Bamford said in a statement. "It will be a great experience for members of our football program and will provide us increased visibility against an SEC opponent in an area of the country where Coach (Mark) Whipple and his staff are recruiting prospective student-athletes. In addition, we are also thrilled to schedule a home-and-home basketball series with the Bulldogs in future years."
According to a report from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, UMass will receive a $1.5 million guarantee for the football game.
By scheduling the game at Georgia, the Minutemen now have 11 games set for the 2018 football season, all against FBS competition.
09/01 - at Boston College
09/08 - at Georgia Southern
09/15 - at Florida International
09/22 - Charlotte
09/29 - at Ohio
10/06 - USF
10/20 - Coastal Carolina
10/27 - at UConn
11/03 - Troy
11/10 - BYU
11/17 - at Georgia
That leaves only an FCS opponent to be added for UMass, which would ideally be slotted in on Nov. 24, the final week of the regular season in 2018. The 2018 season will be UMass' third as an FBS independent.
UMass has done a good job of scheduling games that both increase its profile nationally and games they have a chance to compete in. It's a tough balance to strike as an independent team but the Minutemen seem to have to have found a formula that works.
The UMass athletic department has also identified the men's basketball schedule as an area to make some gains, and they are utilizing their football scheduling as a way to address that. This is the second such deal the Minutemen have signed to get a home-and-home men's basketball series with a power conference opponent in addition to a payday football game. UMass is traveling to South Carolina in the 2016 football season (also for $1.5 million) and will be playing a home-and-home basketball series with the Gamecocks as part of that deal as well.
The Minutemen football program has been recruiting heavily in Georgia over the past few seasons (as mentioned by Bamford in the press release) so playing games in that area is crucial to the process. To have one of those games be against a traditional power like the Bulldogs is even better.