When the UMass Minutemen decided to make the jump from the FCS ranks to FBS, the school identified a need for a coach who knew what that level of football was about and could lead them into the future. Now, two years later, the Commonwealth's flagship University is doing the same thing.
UMass fired Charley Molnar on Thursday after two seasons, two wins, many transfers and a lot of bad press. The perception of Molnar's program was so bad that UMass was able to secure external funding to pay the remainder of his contract -- a move typically seen at places like Notre Dame and Michigan. While the Minutemen are now in a pretty serious hole as 2014 begins, it does give AD John McCutcheon an opportunity to reshape the program going forward with a new guy leading the charge.
The idea that UMass isn't a good job is absolutely ludicrous. There will be plenty of solid candidates with loads of coaching experience who will look at a program that features a roster now three-classes deep with FBS players, a schedule with three on-campus games in 2014, support from the athletic director and president, and a state-wide fan base that has always showed up for the basketball team and wants to do the same for football.
Charley Molnar was not the right guy for the job. The next guy, however, has to be.
The next guy has to be UMass' version of Randy Edsall. The former UConn coach took that program from a transitional outfit in 2000 to a bowl winner in 2004. Replicating Edsall's success at UConn is a big ask, but after two painful years that saw minor progress it is reality of the situation.
The expectations for the next coach are simple: win the games you're supposed to win and compete in the games you're supposed to lose. Had Molnar simply done that he would still have a job. But he didn't, and for the second time in three years, UMass will have to find the right guy to lead it into the competitive ranks of FBS football.
Here's to hoping they get it right this time.