When UMass cancelled their Fall 2020 season it made sense. They lack money in a year where everyone is losing money rapidly. They don’t have a conference schedule to fall back on, and would have to recreate it from scratch. Add to that COVID-19 restrictions, and it just seemed easier to wait until the Spring.
Well, then the season started, and it went well enough. Not without hiccups, but the whole sport didn’t have to shutdown. So, the conferences that cancelled started coming back. Left to play the Spring were a few bottom tier Independents and Old Dominion. UMass looked at that and felt they couldn’t afford to be left out. Coach Walt Bell pointed out a few of the “Million reasons why it’s important,” which started with player development, recruiting, and simply having fun.
So, UMass came back and found a game at Georgia Southern. It went about as well as could be expected for UMass. After all, they were brought in to keep Georgia Southern sharp during a three week layoff.
The question is, where does UMass go from here?
There’s a lot to work to do on the field. Between two quarterbacks UMass couldn’t scrape together 100 yards passing. The defense wasn’t any better, letting Georgia Southern run down their throats.
Of course, no one is surprised by UMass’ on field issues. They were awful last season, and there’s no reason to think they’ll be any better this season. The real question is what happens next in UMass’ season? The Minutemen don’t have anymore games on the schedule yet, and money is tight for the program.
The good news is that UMass is about to get more games added to their schedule. Athletic director Ryan Bamford says that the Minutemen should have at least four games added. They’re just pending a few final details. There’s also the possibility of a fifth game, but that is less likely.
The reality is that these games are going to be on the road, and UMass will need them to pay out some money to make it worth their while to go. If someone else is desperate enough they may be able to schedule UMass on an emergency basis.
Rumors have it that two of the teams who will be adding UMass are Army and FAU. FAU has lost multiple games due to COVID-19 and Army had to entirely rebuild its own Independent schedule. Both are perfect fits for a UMass team looking to get better, put itself out there, and just play some football.
BYU, another Independent, would make some sense as a fit as well. There’s no rumors about the two, and the Cougars may want a higher profile opponent to boost their resume. Temple, who lost games due to COVID-19 related issues, would also make sense as an additional opponent.
Make no mistake, whoever UMass plays they will struggle against. Still, it’s the right thing to do. They need to develop their athletes, put themselves out there, and find a way to build their program. Taking a season off would do nothing to help that.