Oct 14, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Jameial Lyons (19) pressures Massachusetts Minutemen quarterback Ahmad Haston (16) during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Massachusetts 63-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Report: UMass joining MAC for all sports

The University of Massachusetts is set to join the Mid-American Conference for all sports starting in 2025-26, ESPN reported Monday.

UMass currently competes as an independent in football and in the Atlantic 10 for most other men’s and women’s athletic programs.

MAC presidents voted on Monday to invite UMass as a new member and the school is expected to accept, according to the report.

The Minutemen would join the 12 current full MAC members: Akron, Bowling Green State, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Ohio, Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan.

UMass previously competed in the MAC for four seasons in football from 2012-15, compiling an overall record of 8-40 with a 7-25 mark in league play. The Minutemen finished 3-9 in 2023.

The Amherst, Mass., school has been a member of the A-10 for men’s and women’s basketball since the 1982-83 season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15) passes against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 Penn State takes Big Ten break to face UMass

After rolling to three straight Big Ten victories by a combined 76 points, No. 6 Penn State will take a break from conference play when it hosts Massachusetts on Saturday in State College, Pa.

Another lopsided win appears likely for the Nittany Lions (5-0) despite coach James Franklin insisting that the Minutemen (1-6) are “maybe the most explosive team we’ve played this year.”

Penn State is healthy and eager to get back on the field following a bye week. The Nittany Lions haven’t played since rolling past host Northwestern 41-13 on Sept. 30 on the heels of a 31-0 rout of then-No. 24 Iowa.

A sturdy defense and balanced offense have helped steer the Nittany Lions to their unbeaten start.

In the Northwestern game, the Nittany Lions passed for 219 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 134 yards and three scores.

Quarterback Drew Allar passed and rushed for touchdowns behind an offensive line anchored by savvy center Hunter Nourzad, who has been especially impressive to Franklin of late.

“His approach, his maturity; gosh, he’s getting an MBA right now from Penn State. … He’s just one of those guys who’s a really great example of the importance of maturity on your football team,” Franklin said.

UMass enters Saturday’s game on a six-game losing streak. The program’s lone victory this season came on the road as quarterback Taisun Phommachanh contributed 288 yards of total offense and a rushing touchdown in a season-opening, 41-30 win at New Mexico State.

The Minutemen are coming off a 41-24 home loss to Toledo in which they were outscored 24-3 after halftime. Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams had 20 carries for a career-best 157 yards and a score, while Phommachanh passed for 272 yards and two TDs.

UMass coach Don Brown stressed that his team will need to sustain a notable effort throughout the afternoon if it expects to tread water at raucous Beaver Stadium.

“The place is going to be packed,” Brown said. “Going to be over 100,000 people there. And got to be a big boy and put your big-boy pants on and go to work. It’s real simple. Focus your attention on the task at hand and just stay in the fight for 60 minutes. And that’s kind of the deal. That’s the approach you got to take. It’s not rocket science.”

Penn State cruised past visiting UMass 48-7 in the lone previous meeting between the schools, on Sept. 20, 2014.

Smith and Franklin coached together at Maryland in 2009, with Brown serving as the Terrapins’ defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach and Franklin fulfilling duties as offensive coordinator/assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach.

Minutemen safety Tyler Rudolph transferred to the school after playing in 11 games for Penn State from 2019-21.

The Nittany Lions will close the regular season with six straight Big Ten games, beginning with an Oct. 21 visit to No. 3 Ohio State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 16, 2019; Evanston, IL, USA; Massachusetts Minutemen head coach Walt Bell looks on in the first half against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

UMass fires Walt Bell after 2-23 mark at school

UMass fired football coach Walt Bell on Sunday, a day after the Minutemen lost their homecoming game to FCS program Rhode Island.

Defensive coordinator Tommy Restivo also was fired and offensive line coach Alex Miller, a 2007 UMass alum and a former All-American offensive lineman, will serve as interim head coach.

The school said a national search for a new head coach would begin immediately.

Bell leaves the program after compiling a 2-23 record since he took over as head coach before the 2019 season

The only win for UMass this season came Oct. 9 against UConn, which also is 1-8 on the season.

Miller previously was on the coaching staffs at Oregon and New Hampshire.

Bell, now 37, was hired in December 2018 following one season as the offensive coordinator at Florida State. He also previously coached at Arkansas State, Maryland, Florida State, North Carolina, Southern Miss, Oklahoma State and Memphis.

His only other win with UMass came Sept. 28, 2019, over Akron.

UMass has three games remaining on the season: Nov. 13 vs. Maine, Nov. 20 at Army and Nov. 27 at New Mexico State.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Conway, South Carolina, USA; Coastal Carolina Chanticleers running back Reese White (2) is tackled by the Massachusetts Minutemen in the NCAA football game of Massachusetts and Coastal Carolina at Brooks Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 17 Coastal Carolina cruises to 53-3 rout of UMass

Grayson McCall threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as No. 17 Coastal Carolina blew past visiting Massachusetts 53-3 on Saturday afternoon at Conway, S.C.

Six different Coastal Carolina players scored touchdowns in the rout that saw the Chanticleers take the lead four minutes into the game.

Tyson Mobley scored a pair of touchdowns for Costal Carolina. Braydon Bennett was the top rusher for the Chanticleers, picking up 83 yards on eight carries and scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard run early in the second half.

It was the final nonconference tune up for Coastal Carolina (4-0) before beginning Sun Belt Conference play. The Chanticleers have won all three of their home games by a double-digit margin.

It will be at least two full calendar years between victories for UMass (0-4), which is 0-15 since winning Sept. 28, 2019, against Akron.

McCall, who was 10-of-14 for 162 yards in the air, began the scoring on a 3-yard run with 11 minutes remaining in the first quarter. Reese White added a 12-yard scoring run in the opening quarter before Coastal Carolina’s dominating 23-point second quarter led to a 36-0 halftime advantage.

On the opening possession of the game, UMass gained 10 net yards and the drive ended when Costal Carolina’s Mason Shelton blocked a UMass punt, giving the Chanticleers the ball at the 4-yard line. Costal Carolina’s second touchdown drive went 99 yards in nine plays.

McCall hit Isaiah Likely on a 25-yard touchdown play early in the second quarter for a 20- advantage. Mobley ran in from 22 yards out and McCall hooked up with Jaivon Heiligh on a 23-yard touchdown toss to make it 36-0 by halftime.

In the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Bryce Carpenter hit Mobley for a 9-yard touchdown play and a 43-0 advantage.

Heiligh finished with five catches for 118 yards as part of the Chanticleer’s 558 yards of total offense. Likely had 76 yards on three receptions.

UMass quarterback Brady Olson completed 14-of-23 passes for 86 yards.

The Minutemen were held to 158 yards of total offense, failing to reach a double-digit point total for the second time this season. They finally scored with 8:22 remaining on Cameron Carson’s 35-yard field goal to cap a 13-play drive.

–Field Level Media