Georgia Southern, UMass Schedule 2017-18 Football Series

By Kevin Kelley -

The Georgia Southern Eagles and the UMass Minutemen have scheduled a home-and-home football series for 2017 and 2018, according to a copy of the contract obtained from GSU.

In the first game of the series, Georgia Southern will travel to take on UMass in either Amherst or Foxborough on Oct. 21, 2017. The Eagles will then host the Minutemen in the second and final game at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro on Sept. 8, 2018.

News of a possible series between the two schools was first reported two weeks ago by Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Georgia Southern and UMass have met twice previously in the Division 1-AA Playoffs. In 1998, 11th-seeded UMass upset top-ranked Georgia Southern 55-43 to win the Division 1-AA Championship.

The following season, Georgia Southern got revenge on UMass, winning 38-21 in a Quarterfinal game in Statesboro.

2014 was the first season for Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt Conference. The Eagles won the conference championship after finishing 8-0 in the Sun Belt (9-3 overall).

The addition of the series with UMass gives Georgia Southern two non-conference games in 2017 and three in 2018. Other games currently scheduled those seasons include at LSU (2017), at Clemson (2018), and at Kent State (2018).

UMass will be playing their final season as a football-only member of the MAC in 2015. The Minutemen will play as an FBS Independent for the 2016 and 2017 seasons and hope to gain entry into another conference by 2018.

Football Schedules

Comments (24)

I like the idea of scheduling home & home games vs other G5’s but it UMASS does gain conference entry in 2018 they will have to move or drop several games. Seems like a bit of a risk to schedule them under those circumstances.

I presume the UMass AD is including in the contract language that if Mass joins a conference Mass can cancel the OOC games without paying a buyout. But I doubt Mass will be joining a conference in 2018.

It will be huge challenge for UMass to complete their 2016 schedule. Right now they still need four home games. And they already have FCS game on their schedule. So attracting four FBS programs to play at UMass, in October and November, will be difficult.

I suspect UMass will cancel football at the end of next season.

There is nothing in the contract stipulating a cancellation if UMass joins a conference. There is a $500,000 buyout unless cancellation is mutual.

Jonny seems to have quite the agenda every time a UMass article comes up on here declaring that the school will cancel football like tomorrow or whatever…UMass isn’t cancelling football. Not happening. The absolute worst-case scenario is a move back to 1-AA, but that’s not happening either, sorry to disappoint.

And for the 100th time UMass needs THREE home games in 2016, not four. The URI game can count as one of their 5 required home games, there is a clause in the NCAA bylaws that would allow it. UMass will only be playing 5 home games a season while independent so they can use Gillette for 1 game and McGuirk for 4.

The problem they’re going to run into is that there are some teams, especially P5 teams, that won’t necessarily want to play at McGuirk. But there are options to fill out 3 homes games in that 2016 schedule, like specifically Buffalo, who we could play at home in 2016 and on the road in 2017. They’ve got the help of this ESPN guy now so with any luck those games can get sorted out soon. They’ll be able to use the Hawaii exemption in 2016 as well, and they’ll probably schedule another road game that pays.

They’ll get into a conference. Since UAB is gone Conference USA would probably take them.

Not likely. C-USA is leaning toward changing the bylaw to a super majority for a non-football member. The sentiment is to give UAB a few years to see if they will bring football back. They don’t like the replacement options, and many like UAB’s academics (Med School) and what they bring for Basketball including conference tournament site. They will kick the can down the road a couple years for now.

The SBC and Idaho look to be parting, possibly Idaho leaving FBS after 2015 (Dennis Dodd made a comment stating that), and there has been no denial for several days from Idaho’s AD. Just silence. I don’t know that this would help UMass, as they present the same outlier problem Idaho does.

Frankly its hard to see any FBS conference that would take UMass in the next five years if not longer. I’m not sure the program will survive beyond the next change in school President

Idaho leaving the Sun Belt and re-joining the Big Sky for all sports would be the best move for that institution (as far as fan interest and geographical sense go). Also, is there no hope of UMass moving back down to FCS and into their old slot in the CAA or have they burned all their bridges with the CAA? That seems like a much better alternative than shuttering the program.

Idaho has no business playing above the Big Sky level. They have pathetic facilities, the 15,500 seat Kibbie Dome resembles a World War 2 aircraft hanger and is never sold out. They have tepid fan support and are hundreds of miles from any population base. The football team’s performance has been a joke now for 60 years and they go on the road each year for body bag games, 84-14 loss at Florida St. 2 years ago as an example.


I agree that C-USA would be less likely than some other options, but if the conference as a whole is waiting for UAB to start football back up again, I think that’s going to be a long wait. Especially given the way the program is viewed by Alabama; as long as UAB’s funding is controlled in Tuscaloosa, I don’t think they’d ever get the program back.

Once C-USA gets settled with Charlotte for a year or two they may look to go to 14 teams. I mean that was the plan all along when Charlotte came up, to have a 14-team football conference. They will want another team for football at some point.

The Sun Belt doesn’t really want another football-only member at this point in time, but if Idaho does in fact drop back to 1-AA, that leaves the Sun Belt at 10 teams. They could go with that since it’s an even number, or they could look to add 2 more teams, even if one is football-only to get to that championship game. I could see them adding UMass and another Southern school that could be looking to make the jump to 1-A at the same time.

UMass is an outlier compared to the rest of the teams currently in the Sun Belt, that is true, but it is nowhere near the type of issue it is with Idaho. Not even close. UMass’ location wouldn’t put the Sun Belt off. Hell, I think UMass is closer to most of the teams than New Mexico State is.

(Also, and this is just me speculating, I could see NMSU leaving to join C-USA if given the chance, giving C-USA 14 teams and leaving the Sun Belt with 9…UMass could definitely get in as football-only at that point).

The interesting thing with NMSU in CUSA is that UTEP is just across the border, so NMSU and UTEP would be ideal travel partners. UTEP is a bit of an outpost right now. If NMSU was better at football, it would be a no-brainer, since their basketball is usually good. Unfortunately NMSU’s football is usually pretty poor.

It hasn’t been since the 1980s that a team dropped from FBS to FCS, when several conferences, among them the Ivy League, as well as a few indies, did so. So I don’t see Idaho going FCS. UMass should join the SBC as a FB-only member, that seems to be the best option now.

ESPN is assisting UMASS fill out the 2016 Schedule – There are plenty of teams still trying to fill out schedules for 2016. The following have a need and plenty of room in OCT/Nov including Akron, Buffalo, Marshall, Air force, Navy, Wake Forest, Purdue, Cincinnati, WKU, Virginia, and more

Plenty of teams still need 2016 games but UMass needs only HOME games.

As possibilities I can see WF or Syracuse. All other P5 programs with openings want Home games.

2016 schedules are complete for Virginia Purdue, Navy, Air Force, Akron and W Ky. Cincin, Buffalo and Marshall more likely go with a home game vs FCS.

There maybe a few American and CUSA conference programs which might opt for playing a fourth OOC game at Mass versus a FCS home game. But generally they don’t want to give up a home game if already playing two OOC games on the road.

UMass is gambling scheduling those future games, when at the same time wanting to join another conference. How will they afford those buyouts if joining a conference?

Other programs have injected language into their OOC game contracts that if they change conferences they will not have to pay a buyout. e.g. Texas A&M dropping the series with Oregon.

There is the option of negotiating postponing games to future seasons. That’s probably what would happen if UMass gets into a conference. If they do get into a conference, it probably wouldn’t happen until 2018 at the earliest, and right now they would have to postpone three games. I would assume if there’s a penalty for postponing, it would be cheaper than the buyout.

Jacksonville State University of Alabama would be an excellent choice to replace UAB in Conf. USA or to join the Sun belt to replace Idaho. Although a FCS school they have excellent athlete programs with a beautiful stadium. I hope they are considered to join one of these Conferences.

Can UMass still continue to count games at Gillette as home games?
After all the years Arkansas played ‘home’ games at Little Rock, Bama played ‘home’ games at Birmingham, and Auburn played ‘home’ games in Birmingham (vs. Bama and Tenn) or Columbus (vs. UGa)… where’s the problem with UMass playing in Foxborough?
That stadium is a great place for a game, and Syracuse and WFU and others would benefit from a game there.

Agreed. The Patriots’ reportedly helped BYU get on board for two road games against UMass.

They can. They have a deal with Gillette and the Pats to allow them to play games there rent-free for a period of years in their transition to FBS. The first two seasons they played every game there. This past season and this coming season it will be 3 games in Amherst and 3 at Gillette. Going into being an independent, they’ll only be playing 5 homes games per season, as that allows them to play 4 games at one location and 1 game at the second, as a “neutral site” game. If they scheduled 6 home games they’d be forced to do the 3 and 3. Once they get into a conference they’ll be able to move back to McGuirk, though there will need to be more improvements made to it before a lot of bigger teams would want to come and play there.

The hope is that they’ll be able to play 4 games at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst primarily and 1 game per season in Gillette. In 2016 since they need 3 more home games they might get stuck playing 4 in Gillette, which would be bad for UMass’ program on the whole. But having that one game per season there while they are independent could certainly help with scheduling some P5 teams, who’d be the one game that UMass plays in Foxborough that season.

And going forward, even if they get into a conference, it appears that they’ll be playing one game there per season anyways, as the BYU home games have to be there contractually. Those are 2018 (which is the last season the team is scheduling currently scheduling as an indy) and 2019, when they hope to be in a conference.

GaSo is struggling to get teams outside of the FCS to come to play in Statesboro. And you shouldn’t call them GSU since that is a completely different team entirely!!!

The “two GSUs” situation is the same as the “two USCs” situation, except in the same conference this time which makes it even worse.

Atlanta Mafia that’s what happens when you put up more yards and points on eventual National Champion Alabama than any other school, Beat Florida as a FCS the next season and then go 9-3 your first season in FBS. No one wants to play you because your not a national name yet so a loss to GS looks bad to the average fan who knows no better.