We received a lot of e-mails after last week’s Maroon Musket Mailbag, and I plan on getting to each one. With that being said, please keep them coming. Answering these questions gives me a second to breathe during UMass’ machine-gun approach to 2014 recruiting. You can reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s e-mail is from Zach Emery, who had many other questions that we will definitely get to as we have more time (and, quite frankly, more answers):
What other improvements (besides bathrooms) do you think should be added to the McGuirk renovation?
While your question specifically says “besides bathrooms,” I literally can’t force myself to write about this without hammering home the fact that McGuirk is in dire need of a respectable restroom facility. As an FBS program this is an absolute must. I refuse to do the research, but I am guessing with confidence that the University of Massachusetts will be the only FBS school in the nation with lines of Porta-Potties serving its constituents in the year 2014. I am almost mad at the Mid-American Conference for not including this in its Membership Agreement with UMass. I don’t care if it’s for one game or a full home slate, not having 21st century toilets at McGuirk is completely unacceptable.
Other than that, the ticketing booths out in front of the stadium need either a complete overhaul or should be scrapped. They are concrete outposts that remind me of the ones that we used in high school. I hope that the new facility includes a new ticketing window, and that entire gate-to-concrete-booth fixture in front of McGuirk is torn down. While the outside of McGuirk isn’t exactly a Santiago Calatrava masterpiece, the current surrounding “cheapens” the look of the whole thing. (NOTE: I firmly believe that the enormous banners, which cover the underside of the concrete stairs, are an awesome and cost-effective way to make the outside of the stadium look more presentable)
I’m hoping that the walls from the most recent rendering surround the entire front portion of the stadium:
I also hope that UMass puts together something resembling a Ring of Legends or Wall of Fame to commemorate the great football players of the past. Further down the line, the number 5 should be retired in a ceremony that includes both Marcel Shipp and Steve Baylark, two of the greatest running backs in the history of college football.
Do you think tailgating should be extended to 4 hours next year to match what is allowed for Patriots games, or should they stick with the 3 hours that were in place last season?
I never had a situation where the three-hour limit affected me, but I know there are some die-hard fans out there that would definitely try to get to Gillette at 8 a.m. – or earlier – for a noon game if they were allowed to. I think it’s one of those situations where rules can be altered by demand. If there are hundreds and hundreds of fans clamoring to get into the parking lot four hours early (See: the University of Michigan), then I think the rules could and should be changed. As it stands, if you get to Gillette three hours early for a game, you could do donuts in the parking lot with a 18-wheeler and not hit another vehicle. (Disclaimer: Do not, under any circumstances, do donuts with an 18-wheeler in the parking lot of Gillette … unless UMass beats Boston College in 2014. Even then, don’t say that I told you to. And even then, only aim for the cars with B.C. bumper stickers).
I know we don’t even want to think about this, but can you imagine the fallout if we lose to Maine this year? Should we have waited a few more years before scheduling an FCS team, just so we wouldn’t have to worry about the bad press if we lose?
While the Maine game certainly looks like a lose-lose proposition to many UMass fans, I think it could actually be a positive scheduling arrangement. During the span of a month, the Minutemen will hit the road to play a perennial Big 10 powerhouse (Wisconsin) and a Big 12 team that finished in the top 15 in both polls (Kansas State). It also will bring one of the hottest teams in the SEC to Gillette (Vanderbilt), all while trying to build some sort of optimism in an alumni base that, to be blunt, let down its alma mater last year.
With all due respect to the job that Charley Molnar has done with this team in two years, Maine is UMass’ only winnable out-of-conference game in 2013. That one (knock on wood) win will do wonders for the psyche of a team primarily made up of freshmen and sophomores who are still trying to figure out how to be FBS football players. Of course, no win is guaranteed in football. All you have to do is look back a few years when Appalachian State beat Michigan.
The Black Bears are going to be a better-than-average FCS team next year. Head coach Jack Cosgrove continues to recruit pretty well, and Maine could be a surprise team in the CAA. That being said, the Minutemen should be heavily favored to win this game. To use an old cliche, UMass is bigger, stronger and faster than Maine, and that should be evident when the two schools face off. Take Vondell Langston as an example. Langston was high on Maine’s list and would have been the highest-rated recruit in the Black Bears’ 2012 class. The Minutemen came in and offered late, and Langston immediately cancelled an official visit to Orono and committed to UMass on the spot. Langston didn’t crack the two-deep for UMass his freshman year.
On Sept. 7, UMass should record its first ever win at Gillette.
The Maine game could also help from an attendance perspective. Black Bear fans can easily drive down to the game, and Maine alumni in the area will have an excuse to check out the team locally. Last time the Minutemen played a local opponent at Gillette, 24,000 fans showed up (See: UMass v. UNH, Oct. 22, 2011). During a season where UMass needs to get its attendance figures up, the Maine game could provide a healthy boost.
We all know that The Gold Group’s marketing strategy last year to get fans to Gillette failed. Is there any reason to believe that a different marketing company could come up with a better strategy to get fans into the stands? Do you have any ideas of your own that you think should be implemented?
I know this is the Maroon Musket mailbag, but I also know that, during the course of this website’s existence, our readers have had much better ideas than I could come up with. I promise this is not my way of punting – I am genuinely interested to hear what you guys think about this one.
Have at it fellas.
Follow Bob on twitter: @BobMcGovernJr