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We are not Alabama. Look around.

Posted by Charles P. Pierce  April 25, 2011 02:15 PM

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Big-time college football is an ethical and fiscal millstone around the necks of the institutions that choose to participate in it. The only thing that makes a difference is how well the institution can swim. Recently, the University of Massachusetts attached this millstone firmly around its own neck and jumped into the pool. Not the deep end, surely. It joined the Football Bowl Subdivision by joining the Mid-American Conference. UMass vs. Akron! Throw out the record books when those traditional rivals tee it up!

Of course, Bob Kraft, the world's only completely altruistic sports owner, volunteered to have a few more paydays at his stadium down there on Rte. 1, a mere 67 miles from the students on whose behalf, of course, this particular money grab is being made.

(UMass president John McCutcheon says that the arrangement in Foxboro involves "sharing" revenue under a formula that is "beneficial" to UMass. He would not go into details. This Blog hopes he looks good wearing a barrel.)

Here's a Pro Tip, guys -- the primary destinations for college football are places like Tuscaloosa, Knoxville, Ann Arbor, and South Bend. Why?  Because that's where the schools are, foofs. If your grand strategy requires busing your fan base an hour-and-change for every home game, then your grand strategy needs a lot of work. And gasoline money.

Was there a demonstrable demand for this, or is this just a matter of some UMass panjandrums and their longing looks south towards Storrs, Connecticut, and their coveting UConn's ability to lose just south of $2 million by getting drilled in last year's Fiesta Bowl. You can't be a world-class university without having the ability to light a couple of million bucks on fire on behalf of your football team.

And then, of course, from the above link, there's this, from an allegedly responsible adult in the UConn administration:

"Long term, this is not a story that can be summarized on a spreadsheet."

Not a small spreadsheet, in any case. Expect to see similarly lame alibis surfacing in the arboreal regions of Massachusetts over the next few years, as the Minutemen fight their way to bids in the GoDaddy.com bowl, one of the MAC's prestigious postseason partners.  Bigtime college football is a marvelous environment for utter public hogwash. Make no mistake -- everything you have heard about the alleged financial benefits of this move either to the school or to the Commonwealth is either a lie, or the product of magical thinking. There's no third alternative.

And This Blog will make y'all a small symbolic wager -- after the Minutemen spend a couple of seasons drawing 17,000 people to Foxboro to see them tussle with Kent State and Toledo, we will hear that they "cannot compete" in the MAC without a bigger stadium in Amherst because, gollywillikers, we can't expect the students there to drive almost 100 whole miles to see a home game. And the second stage of the con -- a publicly financed new stadium out on the campus -- will be unveiled.


Step right up, kids.


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UPDATE -- Lost typing skills during the vacay. Meant to make that 97 miles, not 67, from UMass to Kraft Empire, LLC. Thanks, as always, to the self-correcting blogosphere, and apologies from This Blog for being innumerate in its typing.
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