Last night at the UMass Club, head football coach Charley Molnar made promises, asked fans for support and spent time with what he calls “UMass Nation.”
To open his speech, Molnar told a room full of supporters that he was sticking around Amherst for the long haul.
“I would really like to be the man of the decade, of the next 25 years,” he said. “I would like to be your football coach until the day I retire. I plan on being part of UMass from the day I got hired on December 7 until I finally step off the field after my last game as a football coach.”
Molnar understands that the process of elevating UMass to the FBS is going to be a difficult task. He alluded to the fact that the Minutemen may take their lumps next year, but added that the football team’s goal is to be the first transitional team to make a bowl game.
“If there’s not enough bowl-eligible teams, eventually they will work their way down to the transition teams. That being said, we’ve set a goal for our football team: To be the first transition team to play in a bowl game.”
In order to prepare for a tough slate of FBS teams, Molnar and his staff are training the players “like they’re Navy Seals.” He also reiterated the fact that his players are going to learn to play New England football and compete sleeveless during the cold fall and winter days.
When discussing player attrition, Molnar said that no one left the program, “but people have been separated from the football team.”
Off the field, Molnar said he wants to teach UMass fans how to go to a football game. He harped on buying season tickets and getting out to games en masse. Essentially, he said it’s up to the fans to raise the Minutemen to the next level.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a nation to raise a football program – the UMass Nation.”
In the marketing department, Molnar said that the school is starting to make maneuvers to get the word out about the program. Fans have been pining for billboards, television spots or other marketing plans, and it sounds like the school is about to reach out.
“We’ve had marketing on a number of different levels,” Molnar said. “We’re going to communicate to the Boston area and the state of Massachusetts through print media, billboards and radio. We’re trying to find our target market and trying to saturate it as we get close to that first game.”
When talking about the exposure of New England football in general, Molnar said that the product is undervalued on a national level. He added that games against UConn and Boston College would add to the value of New England football and create interesting rivalries during a time when conference realignment is forcing awkward pairings of non-regional opponents.
“To me it’s one of the most critical things that I want to do. Rivalries are very, very important in college football, and we look at the way conferences are mixing and matching right now, and there’s absolutely no rivalries between the schools,” Molnar said. “Look at the Big East right now – how much of a rivalry does Rutgers feel toward San Diego State? I can answer that, zero.”
After the talk, Molnar stuck around to talk to supporters until way after the 7:30 pm last call.
NOTES: Athletic Director John McCutcheon said that the new additions to McGuirk should be done by July 1, 2014. He added that the Champions Center should be done around the same time. The combined amount for both projects: $55 million. … The Athletic Department brought a UMass football jersey with the MAC emblem on the shoulder. The emblem, which is usually green, was maroon – meaning that anyone worrying about colors clashing shouldn’t fret. … I asked Molnar about possible uniform changes, and he said there will be “some surprises” for UMass fans but wouldn’t get into it further. … A former Boston College fan was in attendance and told Coach Molnar that he gave up his season tickets for the Eagles and switched to UMass.