The UMass Minutemen were once one of the best football programs in New England; respected by most as the place to play if you were a sub-FBS player. The transition to the highest level of college football has been met with dissent amongst faculty, disappointment among fans and now fury within the program's alumni base which believes Charley Molnar has not just mistreated them, but his current players as well.
The second-year head coach put his team through a rigorous winter conditioning program last year and the athletic department produced a video, which you can see below. In the video you can see players taking part in wrestling matches, boxing matches and all sorts of other non-football activities in the snow at McGuirk Stadium.
According to Matt Vatour of the Daily Hampshire Gazzette, a conversation about the video began in the program's private alumni group on Facebook and eventually led to a petition -- which as of this writing has 127 signatures on Change.org -- that calls for Molnar to stop mistreating players and improve the quality of the program.
Some of the quotes from those who signed the petition are damning.
Pride, Honor, Tradition and Commitment to excellence is the foundation in which the UMass Football program was built upon. This staff has turned our house into a cheap brothel not worthy of it's foundation for which we all in some way help build. With that said I still believe the foundation is strong but it is time for a "Wrecking Crew" to come in and knock down the house of Molnar so we can rebuild UMass back to the pride and glory of what once was.
- Joe Abasciano, West Roxbury, Mass.
It’s unfortunate what’s going on and how guys are being treated. It’s such an embarrassment to the university," said Higgins, who added that he has not met Molnar and does not want to. "I’ve heard how he’s treated former players and coaches. Since he’s been on campus, he’s turned away alumni with his attitude. No one wants to back a guy like that. If he didn’t come off so much like an arrogant politician, maybe we’d support him more. He doesn’t care. The video was just icing on the cake.
- Sean Higgins, All-American TE '99
Vatour also caught up with a few alums for his story, but perhaps the most eye-opening account of the work outs comes from recent transfer and former quarterback Brandon Hill. Hill, who is now the starter at Monmouth, injured his shoulder that forced him to have surgery and miss the entire 2011-12 season.
Hill said the matches were optional in name only.
"I think it was to see who was tougher and to get us going and pump us up a little bit," Hill said. "You’re not going to say no. Kids wanted to do it. The nature of football is kind of like wrestling and kind of like boxing. It’s not like it was forced upon us.
"For a quarterback, I don’t think I should have been doing it, but I’m not going to say no to something the head coach wants you to do, especially with a new coach," he added. "You want to try to impress him and you’re going to do anything you can to play."
Hill also said that they wore pads as much as allowed by the NCAA, taking a break from full-contact only for Friday walk throughs. Since Molanr took over following the 2011-12 season, 22 players with eligibility remaining have left the program.
The UMass Athletic Department has not wavered in its support of Molnar and said that it has systems in place to catch things like player mistreatment without the player feeling as though their standing on the team will be hurt. The department is yet to hear of anything from players.
Simply put, it doesn't sound like this is going to effect Molnar's job security. The department is committed to their coach and intend to have him see it through the rest of this transition, even if it could turn into a public relations nightmare if the alumni continue railing against the coach.