Cyr: Are UMass students actually football fans?

By Andrew Cyr

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(Amanda Creegan/Daily Collegian)

(Amanda Creegan/Daily Collegian)

Saturday’s football game between the Massachusetts football team and Bowling Green was the biggest “can’t miss” event that will roll through Amherst this fall.

It was the first football game at McGuirk Stadium since 2011, and with a newly renovated press box and state-of-the-art performance center, McGuirk is starting to look like an actual college football stadium and not just some glorified high school stadium you would find down in Texas.

But as the week progressed and game day neared, the questions being asked changed from “Are you going to the football game?” to “Are you going to the tailgate?”

The tailgate scene was legitimate. There were UMass flags being flown off cars, people grilling out of their trunks, footballs being tossed around the parking lot and, of course, plenty of beverages to go around.

Was it as big as the tailgates  in the Big Ten or even as crazy as the ones from SEC schools? No. But for the size and scale of UMass and the area surrounding the field, it was just fine because it was in the Minutemen’s backyard.

Let’s talk football for a second, though.

In an era of football run by die-hard fantasy nerds and stat geeks, Saturday’s game had it all: 89 points, 1,307 total yards and a combined total of 200 plays. It was fast-paced, run-and-gun style of football that featured virtually no defense.

Here are some stats for you. Both Minutemen inside linebackers, Jovan Santos-Knox (58 tackles) and Stanley Andre (57) are second and third in the country for tackles, respectively. Blake Frohnapfel is eighth in the country in passing yards (1,471), ahead of last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and this year’s favorites Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Brett Hundley of UCLA.

And for you fantasy gurus out there, Frohnapfel finished 36-for-61 with 589 passing yards – a new school record – and five touchdown passes, tying another program mark. I have no idea how to calculate the points, but I know it’s a lot more than Tom Brady has put up in a single game this season.

But of the 17,000 fans that piled into the newly renovated McGuirk Stadium, how many of them actually saw Frohnapfel’s record-breaking performance? Less than half I would imagine. By halftime nearly the entire far bleachers were empty, leaving only a few dedicated students to stick out and watch what turned out to be a compelling football game.

The majority of the students that attended have probably never watched a UMass football game in their life. It was the first game on campus in nearly three years, and with a team that has only won two games in three seasons in big boy football, a 26-21 score should probably have kept even the smallest of football fans interested.

The most popular excuse that students used for leaving: “It was too hot.”

Seriously, people?

We practically live in the Amazon with the amount of humidity we experience in our New England summers. An 80-degree day to cap off the end of summer is not an excuse. Besides, how many people are going to be complaining about wanting warm weather the second we get our first snowfall of the year?

Everyone was wearing their maroon and white Minutemen gear, but they didn’t care. The students were too busy worry about protecting the rep of “ZooMass” and making sure the pregame parties were bigger than the game itself.

Am I drastically over generalizing? Maybe a little, but we live in a region that has been driven by our professional sports team’s success. Sports are the backbone of New Englanders, and this school’s athletics have been vastly overshadowed for as long as I’ve been alive.

Maybe a few more wins will keep students in their seats for an extra quarter or so, but when it’s all said and done, the Minutemen need more support from everyone.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected], and can be followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.