University of Massachusetts head football coach Kevin Morris has been released from his contract, as announced this morning by Athletic Director John McCutcheon.
This is no surprise. I commend the university for making a quick decision over the weekend. I’m sure the decision was made that much easier when Morris failed to get his team to show up for the final game at McGuirk as UMass’ full-time home.
Although a decision like this cannot be made solely based on fans musings, Morris had lost just about everyone’s support at this point. The time was right to make a change as the university overhauls the football program.
During Morris’ time at the helm, the Minutemen went 16-17. The UMass press release states that coach Morris went 40-49 in nine years as a head coach. That seems a bit fabricated. Those 89 games include his six year stinit at Worcester Polytech, as well as the three seasons in Amherst. WPI is, as you would expect, a Division III program. This is precisely the problem in Amherst. The university has had one foot in the door towards being a national program for a decade. It’s time to take the next step. A DIII head coach is not going to cut it at the next level. The administration can’t be shocked that they find themselves in this position today.
McCutcheon’s statement reads in part;
Performance was a big part of it. Obviously we were hoping to build momentum toward that transition and the past two seasons of what we saw, particularly on the field, just wasn’t heading in the direction that we know we need to head in. That was the primary reason for the change.
On-field performance was not up to par according the the AD. I’d have to agree. It isn’t what I want out of the football program. However, a 16-17 record is damn good for someone with zero pertinent head coaching experience.
As cliche as it is; you often get what you pay for.
The school’s statement says that a national search for the program’s first head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS) era is underway.
As a newcomer to the FBS division, the university will certainly have their hands full trying to attract true 1A talent for their head coaching opening. That being said, money will also play a part here. I will take a deeper look at this aspect of the change later.
There are some obvious names being floated by fans. Most notable would be Mark Whipple and Don Brown. Whipple lead the 1998 Minutement to a national title. In 2006, Don Brown brought UMass back to the national title game before falling to Montana. Currently, Whipple is the quarterback’s coach for the Cleveland Browns while Brown is the defensive coordinator for the University of Connecticut.
Beyond those two names; the field is about as wide open as it possibly could be.
If football is a long-term goal for the University of Massachusetts, the administration made the correct decision by moving to the MAC. That was test number one. The program has its “carrier” — the USS Mid-American. Now comes test number two. The administration must find a captain to take the helm of said ship. These are uncharted waters.
The search is on.
[Press release via UMass Athletics]