By Zachary Baru
It is easy to second guess the University of Massachusetts' decision to move to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision after a 1-11 season, averaging 10,901 fans. But even easier, is predicting what may have happened had UMass passed on the opportunity for the move, and stayed in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The future of the FCS is very much uncertain. In a sport where the FBS continues to gain popularity at an alarming rate, the FCS' popularity is diminishing, and doing so quickly. Program success in NCAA Division I football is largely based on television and bowl revenue, both of which the FCS lacks.
With the long-term uncertainty of the FCS, what else was UMass to do but take advantage of the opportunity for an FBS move? It is very hard to blame UMass for making the decision. While costs and low attendance are certainly a reason to speculate the move, the long-term risks of remaining in FCS were far too great. Not to mention the new sources of revenue that open up with a move to the FBS, including television revenue that does not compare to that of FCS.
With the move, the future of UMass football is brighter than ever. With the ongoing renovation of McGuirk Stadium in Amherst, and the current construction of the adjacent Football Performance Center, UMass football will have a state-of-the-art facility right on campus. Once complete, and games return back from Foxborough, the program will find itself in a much better position than it did in 2011, when it was still playing in FCS.
While many FCS teams' futures are currently in doubt, along with the future of the entire subdivision, UMass has a clear long-term plan to build their program. And after all, what more can you ask for?
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.