Well, this isn’t how Charley Molnar and the UMass football program wanted to begin its week.
After one season as football-only members in the Mid-American Conference, the Minutemen could be facing the ultimatum become all-sports member of the conference or renounce their participation in MACtion completely. Should they choose the latter, UMass could find itself in College Football No Man’s Land.
When UMass’ addition to the MAC was announced in April 2011, the Minutemen joined with the mutual understanding that they would be offered a full membership after two seasons of partial membership, with the option to commit full-time or see their football membership kicked to the curb. As Mark Bladuschun writes, “When UMass went to the FBS level a few years ago, the MAC took them in the way they accepted Temple, which allowed basketball to remain in the Atlantic 10. But both sides have escape clauses and the word may be that the MAC is ready to tell UMass, if you want to stay in the MAC in football, you have become a full member in all sports, which would mean UMass leaving the rising in stature A10.”
UMass would have to leave the Atlantic 10, a conference it joined in 1976 and makes much more geographic sense than the Ohio-and-Michigan-centric MAC. The Minutemen could take their chances on the open market, hoping for a lifeline from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA or maybe even the Sun Belt, try to navigate life as an FBS independent or drop back down to FCS.
There’s no indication which way the UMass administration is leaning among those hard choices should the MAC decide to force a day of reckoning. But it’s another example that, while the money may be good, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the conference realignment fence.