Should UMass football coach Charley Molnar be fired due to this video surfacing?
A few things you should know out of the shoot:
1. The University of Massachusetts has a football team.
2. This football team is actually in Division 1 (FBS).
3. This football team plays at the home of the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, and their average attendance this season has been a whopping 16,021. The indoor TD Garden, up the road in Boston, holds 17,000-plus, so the Minutemen would probably be better served hosting an arena-style game there against Akron later on this season if they ever want anything close to a sell-out.
4. If the above video involved Nick Saban and Alabama players, the national cry today would not only be about the government shutdown but (once again) about how ridiculously horrible the people in and around college athletics are.
According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, a group of former UMass football players are circulating a petition to have current head coach Charley Molnar and his assistants “stop the improper treatment of current players” and to “improve the quality of the program.”
Here’s a great drop of knowledge – the program needs great improvement. Molnar is 1-15 in his brief tenure at Amherst. But in fairness to Molnar, getting fans, alumni and players to buy into this particular situation is next to impossible given the way things are currently set up. Gillette Stadium is an hour and 40 minutes away from campus. The program just started playing an FBS schedule last year and are forced to host hokey things like next weekend’s “band day,” which features “the opportunity to meet and work with Minuteman Marching Band director Dr. Timothy Anderson and Associate Director Thomas P. Hannum, an internationally recognized leader in the field of marching percussion.”
Oh, just the perfect way 19-year-olds who just discovered the wonders of cheap vodka want to spend their Saturday afternoons.
It’s true that Molnar does deserve plenty of blame here, make no mistake. In a sports world largely in denial over the longterm effects of concussions, having “helmet boxing” probably isn’t the wisest move. And, most importantly, the football team has shown little improvement over his 16 games at the helm. Now Molnar is playing victim and offering up the type of excuses a man who knows he is about to be fired makes. He has done very little to show “leadership” during his time at UMass.
“We have relatively few alumni that ever come back to watch practice or watch winter workouts,” Molnar told the Gazette. “No matter how hard I’ve tried, we don’t have a great alumni connection. It wasn’t there when I took over and no matter how hard I’ve worked, it still is not there.”
Adding to dire situation is that the Morris Plains, New Jersey native is just the type of snake oil salesman that “non-sports people” love to jump on after even a hint of controversy. John Calipari is cut from the same cloth, but he was once run out of town in Amherst due to shady activity. And he won. A lot.
Is the above video grounds for firing? Not in my book. Setting up wrestling matches in the dead of winter between football players who probably, ya know, wrestled in high school isn’t much of a crime.
Is a 1-23 record over two years (the record Molnar is likely to have at UMass by December), grounds for dismissal? Absolutely. Let’s wait on this one a couple months.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS