Boston Globe: UMass football move loaded with financial risks

Discussion in 'Football' started by RF, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. RF

    RF New Member

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    #1
  2. Big Tribe

    Big Tribe New Member

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    If UMass' first game loss (33-0) is any indication it's going to be a long, hard slog while their fans get used to being a punching bag for real big-time teams.
    #2
  3. PRunCrunk

    PRunCrunk New Member

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    “I hope people see this as a balanced, modest approach,’’ said new UMass Amherst chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy.

    Translation: "I hope people don't get too mad at the fact that we will constantly get bent over by MAC schools, yet we won't be investing any further funds to the program to help stop this."
    #3
  4. clackers

    clackers New Member

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    Great article, thanks for posting it RF. There are always risks associated with moving a program up in level of competition, especially from FCS to FBS. I really think it was an unnecessary risk to play almost two hours away from campus at Gilette Stadium, but they obviously felt the need to have suites available to woo backers. This is an attempt to mitigate financial risksk by taking on the different risk of loss of accesability to students, and posssible loss of synergy. If I were Minuteman fan this article would have me fairly concerned by the goals and approach the university is taking regarding these efforts.

    The article did state that UMass expects to receive $750K annually from the MAC as a share of their media contract. I do wonder from a distance what the CAA deal with NBC will provide each school. I am sure we will find out soon.
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  5. RF

    RF New Member

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    Not exactly an auspiscious start on multiple levels to UMass home games at Gillette Stadium. On the field the Minutemen were trounced 45-6 by a bad Indiana team. Watching from the stands was a much smaller than hoped for crowd of 16,304 (expecations were for a range of 20-35k) . Indiana was supposed to be the marquis name (primarily due to its Big 10 membership) on the home schedule and there was a massive advertising campaign for the game. The size of the crowd however was far less than the games against UNH in Foxboro the last two seasons (which would seem to indicate much of those crowds were there for the Wildcats and not UMass). As a point of reference, Umass drew 11,167 for its home opener in Amherst last year for Rhode Island. With the way UMass is performing at the FBS level (0-2 with earlier 37-0 loss at UConn) coupled with MAC teams for the rest of the home slate, it will be very difficult for the program to attract bigger crowds from here on out.
    #5
  6. Big Tribe

    Big Tribe New Member

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    The imminent financial bath, the unpopular "home" games away from campus, and its new role as an
    FBS punching bag/pinata will have people calling for either the end of football at UMass or a quick drop back to FCS football.

    Already tremendous consternation about what they've done in Amherst.
    #6
  7. Heywood Jablomi

    Heywood Jablomi New Member

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    I'm curious who is experiencing this consternation? Perhaps you can let us in on what you've heard about this? Or is it the same inside source that states that Rice and Tulane are looking to bail on CUSA?

    Or, even more likely, you're simply talking out of your ass, as usual. Lol.
    #7
  8. trbefn

    trbefn New Member

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    Agreed , two games do not provide much of a measuring stick on how the program will do in the next years, especially since UM has just started to recruit at the FBS level . Once they get players in it takes a year or two to grow into being competitive .
    Check back in 5 years and see where they are and what their record is. Now playing in Foxboro may seem nice, NFL stadium and all, but 100 miles from Amhearst ?
    #8
  9. PRunCrunk

    PRunCrunk New Member

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    Football in the northeast is kind of a hard sell to recruits. First off, there just isn't as much football talent up there. Hockey, Lacrosse and baseball poach away a lot of athletes who might have otherwise considered football. Second, it's really cold in the winter. It's kind of hard to sell southern boys football north of PA when they're is a tremendous amount of snow/ice and the biddies are wearing sweatshirts and more 8 months out of the year.

    College football in the northeast is just a tough enviornment to recruit and play in. I thought that Maine, UNH and UMASS were in an ideal place for all three schools. None had to commit all their sports to southern schools, yet they were all able to still play a competitive level of football.
    #9
  10. Sitting Bull

    Sitting Bull New Member

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    This sounds like an impending disaster - unless they just sweep all the problems under the rug and hit the taxpayer for this.

    What struck me in the article as most delusional was the Board member's comment that they wanted UMass to possibly reap benefits similar to schools like Florida and Michigan via of their football program. This is like betting the farm on a three legged mule in the Derby.
    #10
  11. Minuteman97

    Minuteman97 New Member

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    Even after reading that typically slanted article from the Boston Globe -- which covers UMass with about as much positive intent as Fox News covers Obama -- you shouldn't have been able to conclude that there's any imminent financial disaster coming. Yes, the first home game had very disappointing attendance. But as the article states, UMass's revenue sharing is front-loaded, and also they're charging twice as much per ticket in FBS than they did in FCS. Factoring in the cutoff point in the revenue sharing and the higher ticket prices, 16k at Gillette is roughly the equivalent of 26k in Amherst. Financially, that is. And McGuirk only holds 17k. So while last Saturday was a disappointing turnout compared to where UMass wants to be, it's not compared to where we were last year.

    Other omissions and misleading information in the article:

    - Only $7 million is being spent to upgrade UMass's on-campus facilities for the FBS move, not $30 million as stated in the Globe. Most of the remaining $23 million is going towards a field house that was approved long before the FBS move. That was just to keep up with the CAA. Every UMass sport has seen a major renovation or construction of sports facilities in the last decade except for football and baseball. Baseball's stadium re-location is on deck. The football facility dates back to the 1960s. Meanwhile, the basketball team is getting a $35 million practice facility, but that's not a financial risk because only football is risky in the northeast. Towson spent $62 million on a new arena for a horrible basketball team that's upgrading neither its subdivision nor its conference. UMass spent $0 on renting Gillette Stadium. Who took the bigger risk?

    - UMass's head football coach makes less money than Delaware's. The Boston Globe used their usual tactic of stating that a UMass employee makes X amount of money while providing absolutely no context in the form of what their peers make (unless it's less). So long as X is a number greater than zero, the Globe knows their readers will just assume the amount is too high and scream about government spending. Point being, UMass would have to pay a similar amount to get a good CAA coach.

    - The $225k guarantee from UConn that the Globe was so happy to point out was swapped for a home game with Indiana was negotiated when UMass was a FCS team. Since moving to FBS, UMass's has negotiated guarantees between $650k to $1.2 million. Lousy $225k guarantees are what UMass is leaving behind with this move.

    What UMass is doing is only a financial risk compared to not having any football team at all. Compared to having a top flight FCS team, the finances are the LEAST of the risk with this move. The atmosphere in the stadium and the team simply not being ready to make the move were bigger risks, and that unfortunately has played out as feared. This team would be bad in the CAA this year too. JMU fans may recall that UMass snagged several recruits away from the Dukes at the last second. Those recruits are actually playing for UMass as freshmen in a postseason-ineligible year, because we just don't have any better players. I don't think they'd be playing for JMU as freshmen. That's how bad the previous coaching staff left matters here. That plus all 3 QBs who started for UMass last year are either injured for the season or left the team. The worst thing you can do when trying to build excitement for your home opener is gain only 57 yards on offense against a regional rival the week before.

    Unfortunately, under the new rules requiring a conference invitation to move to FBS, you don't get to choose to move when the time is right for you. You only get to move when the time is right for them, the conference. Had UMass stalled even two months, the dominoes that ultimately led to Temple joining the Big East would have been set in motion and then the MAC never would have invited UMass to join as a football-only member. So it was the right move. The only thing UMass could have done differently is make this move before the moratorium came down in 2007. But in the short term, our lack of preparedness for this level (or even the CAA's level) of play is going to do a lot of damage and be a huge setback.
    #11
  12. Sitting Bull

    Sitting Bull New Member

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    LMM,

    Just curious, but how are students getting to the games? Is UMass paying for buses for every game? Are they paying for the band to go to each game as well (it's a big outfit for those who haven't seen them, 300 or so)? If so, is this expense factored in as well?

    When all this came down, I never considered the financial side of this as much - which it sounds like is kind of a wash at best from your own overview. I looked at it more from the University community standpoint. You have a beautiful campus and nice stadium. It seems like the students and University community were just pawns in all this and as result, the upside of a great Saturday afternoon for them was sacrificed for Mr. Kraft and the hope of some big donors in skyboxes at Foxboro.

    Second, I just can't see - for all this sacrifice - why playing Central Michigan or Akron is such a bigger deal than playing UNH or Maine.

    The impending disaster comment may be more my thoughts on the initial response for the first game - which would make me nervous if I was fully invested in this move. 16,000 for the intro to this experiment is a real danger sign.

    It all sounds like a very risky move to me.
    #12
  13. Sitting Bull

    Sitting Bull New Member

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    Let's not blame Fox. Obama has every other network carrying his water. The shame is that Fox is the only network that tries in some way to hold his feet to the fire.
    #13
  14. RF

    RF New Member

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    UMass played their 2nd game at Gillette this past Saturday versus Ohio University. It was their first MAC home game. The announced atttendance was 8,321.
    #14
  15. Big Tribe

    Big Tribe New Member

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    Team is a disaster, completely unfit for FBS play, even in a weak MAC. No way their pitiful
    attendance can support FBS program unless heavily subsidized. Look at it this way...W&M, with an 0-4 record, drew almost 12,000 for home game with terrible Georgia State, outdrawing UMass by more than 3000 people!
    #15
  16. RF

    RF New Member

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    UMass is actually below their season average attendance for last year (counting the 2011 Gillette UNH game) through two games as a FBS(1A) program.


    2012 - Gillette Stadium Attendance
    GM OPPONENT ATTENDANCE CU ATT AVG
    1 Indiana 16,304 16,304 16,304
    2 Ohio U 8,321 24,625 12,313
    3 Bowling Green
    4 Buffalo
    5 Cent Mich


    2011 - McGuirk (*Gillette) Attendance
    GM OPPONENT ATTENDANCE CU ATT AVG
    1 URI 11,167 11,167 11,167
    2 Cent Ct St 11,736 22,903 11,452
    3 UNH* 24,022 46,925 15,642
    4 Villanova 10,002 56,927 14,232
    5 JMU 7,103 64,030 12,806
    #16
  17. RF

    RF New Member

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    In defense of UMass, the weather was not really good for this past Saturday's game. The team's record, long travel required by many, and poor weather were all factors that hurt attendance.
    #17
  18. Sitting Bull

    Sitting Bull New Member

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    I have no sympathy for them. They - UMass powers that be - simply prostituted their football program, just my opinion.
    #18
  19. Dukie95

    Dukie95 Active Member

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    Yes, but mostly long travel required by many and the team's record.
    #19
  20. Minuteman97

    Minuteman97 New Member

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    Jeez.

    1. UMass is an entire 2 home games into its FBS era.

    2. After starting the season the worst way possible, we just lost to the MAC Favorite and potential BCS Buster Ohio by 3, after leading most of the game. We're giving 26 freshmen (true and redshirt) significant playing time, including a QB who didn't take most of the snaps during the spring. We're under a new coach teaching entirely new systems on both offense and defense. Give us a damn second to get up to speed. We've outgained both our MAC opponents, we're just making mistakes a young team makes.

    3. 8000 UMass fans = more ticket revenue than 12000 W&M fans, because you can't charge as much for tickets at your level. Not a point I'd brag about as a UMass fan, and Delaware fans could laugh at our combined ticket revenue numbers, but if we're making comparisons between W&M and UMass: No, your ticket revenue doesn't cover your football expenses either. Nor does TV revenue, needless to say. So is William & Mary unfit to be playing FCS football, as a financial consideration?

    4. The massive increase in guarantee fees covers the difference in scholarship numbers between FCS and FBS. Or at least it does at UMass, a big state school where 80% of students pay the low in-state rate, as opposed to Villanova where 22 lost chances at collecting tuition make a bigger dent. UMass is not paying its coaches more than some CAA schools are. UMass does not pay anything to use Gillette Stadium, did not pay anything to build Gillette Stadium, and keeps the revenue from roughly the first 13,000 tickets sold. TV money, while small in the MAC, is still considerably more than nothing in the CAA. BCS payouts, while small in the MAC, are still more than the share given to the entire FCS. Bottom line: UMass would have to draw even smaller crowds before it ended up in a worse financial position than it was in while playing football in the CAA. It's not like we spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a giant stadium, and nobody showed up. We spent nothing. We lost out on a little bit of potential revenue replacing paying students with scholarship players. That's a 6 digit number.

    Do the math. Yes, we're losing money on FBS football thus far, and will probably continue to do so. No, we're not losing any more money than we were losing on FCS football. And that's the worst case scenario for us, at least while the current contract with Gillette lasts.

    The fans who did show up for the Ohio game said it was the best home game we've had since at least the UNH playoff game in '06. After botching our FBS launch as badly as we possibly could, with the worst team we've had in a decade, that crowd should be the low point for us. If the team continues improving at the rate they have been, the wins are coming soon.
    #20
  21. Longhorn

    Longhorn New Member

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    Nice try at spinning a wretched start...most of us will believe that improvement is continuous and the "wins are coming soon" for UMass when we see it. Right now the FBS move for UMAss looks like a stinking mess.
    #21
  22. RF

    RF New Member

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    The football program was not at this time really in a state to compete on the field at a higher level but UMass couldn't be so choosey in selecting a year to move to FBS. The MAC was willing to take them this season thinking they would be a complement to Temple. With Temple bolting the MAC, UMass may never have gotten an invitation in any other year. The games at Gillette were a necessity for the move. The MAC would not have accepted McGuirk in its present state.

    I think what is happening to UMass is a cautionary tale to any that are thinking of moving up to FBS, particularly if you are in the northeast. A move to FBS in this region is fraught with risk. It is even more of a risk should you be moving to a lesser league (in the view of the general public) that is not part of the BCS or its future new incarnation. College football succeeding in the northeast is very much no automatic given. Playing off campus, particularly if far from campus, is extremely problematic. Projecting future attendance off a few special games with other regional teams is not a good indicator of future turnout. Assuming that your large alumni base will embrace the team with closer games is not necessarily sound judgement.

    UMass is going through growing pains. It might eventually get to a point where the move to FBS makes sense and the revenue and attendance justifty it. It is however also just as possible that they may never get there.
    #22
  23. RF

    RF New Member

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    UMass FBS Transition Update
    UMass lost to Bowling Green today at Gillette Stadium 24-0 to fall to 0-4 in the MAC and 0-7 overall. It was the first "homecoming" game that UMass played off campus (nearly 2 hours away). It drew
    10,846.

    2012 - Gillette Stadium
    GM OPPONENT ATTENDANCE CU ATT AVG
    1 Indiana 16,304 16,304 16,304
    2 Ohio U 8,321 24,625 12,313
    3 Bowling Green 10,846 35,471 11,824
    4 Buffalo
    5 Cent Mich


    2011 - McGuirk (*Gillette) Attendance
    GM OPPONENT ATTENDANCE CU ATT AVG
    1 URI 11,167 11,167 11,167
    2 Cent Ct St 11,736 22,903 11,452
    3 UNH* 24,022 46,925 15,642
    4 Villanova 10,002 56,927 14,232
    5 JMU 7,103 64,030 12,806
    #23
  24. mainejeff

    mainejeff New Member

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    I was totally wrong about UMass and their move to Gillette. They are in big time trouble.
    #24
  25. RF

    RF New Member

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    It is still early in the transitional process and things may still yet turn for UMass. This season however is proving that just moving to FBS does not automatically help a football program. Many assumptions made by UMass about the move are not necessarily occurring. Playing FCS opponents at a top notch NFL stadium closer to its alumni base has not yielded the desired results.
    #25
  26. RF

    RF New Member

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    At least UMass (0-7) is not alone in struggling in FBS. The other Massachusetts FBS school Boston College is 1-6 with no wins over any FBS opponents (lone win was against FCS Maine). If you thorow in UConn (3-5), New England's three FBS programs are a combined 4-18. The only wins came against Maine, UMass, Buffalo, and Maryland. While that may be great cause for concern in other parts of the country, not many in New England are all that worked up since they aren't really giving it much attention.
    #26
  27. Big Tribe

    Big Tribe New Member

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    UMass is awash in red ink, it's team is thrashed weekly, totally non-competitive in a mediocre FBS league, and there is rampant student apathy now that games are played forty miles away. Nobody in Amherst or the state cares a hoot about UMass football other than the stunned coaching staff.

    Harvard gets more media coverage.

    Oner more year of this is probably about all the school can take.
    #27
  28. mainejeff

    mainejeff New Member

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    If nothing breaks for them with Big East membership in the next couple of years.......I expect them to drop football or come crawling back to the CAA.
    #28
  29. Big Tribe

    Big Tribe New Member

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    63-0 loss yesterday. Program millions in the red...students and alumni apathetic.

    Next step...drop football?
    #29
  30. Heywood Jablomi

    Heywood Jablomi New Member

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    Shouldn't you be more concerned with your own pathetic program, which plays in a dump of a "stadium"? Not sure why you're so fixated on UMass, but if my team was as pathetic as W&M, I'd keep quiet.
    #30

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