A scheduling issue has caused the UMass Minutemen 2017 schedule to change. The trips to face SEC programs Tennessee and Mississippi State have flipped dates.
Originally, the Minutemen were scheduled to face off versus the Bulldogs in Starkville, Mississippi on September 23 and travel to Knoxville to face the Volunteers on November 4. Instead, Tennessee will host UMass in September and UMass will make its first ever trip to the Magnolia State in November.
While they will get a solid $1 million to travel to Knoxville, the payout is much less from Mississippi State. According to the Clarion Ledger, the Minutemen get less than $1 million for the two games combined.
Mississippi State will pay UMass a total of $700,000 in 2017 and 2020. The payout is $325,000 in 2017 and increases to $375,000 three years later. The buyout for either school is $1 million for each game remaining on the schedule at the time of cancellation.
This will be the third time they have played in the state of Tennessee. The previous two games were versus Vanderbilt. UMass lost both meetings in Nashville, also dropping a 24-7 decision at Gillette Stadium in 2013.
Both games will be with as an independent UMass as they are slated to be one of four independent programs for the 2017 season, joining Army, Notre Dame, and BYU. New Mexico State will join the independent ranks after the 2017 season while Idaho will leave for the FCS.
As a result of the newfound independence, the Minutemen will face one of the tougher schedules in school history. They are the only team scheduled to face an opponent from all five G5 conferences in 2017.
In addition to the two road games versus SEC programs, UMass faces BYU, South Florida, Temple, and Coastal Carolina on the road. Home games include Conference USA program Old Dominion, MAC foe Ohio, MWC opponent Hawaii, Sun Belt programs Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, and FCS program Maine.