Once upon a long ago, the old Yankee Conference was UMass and the five dwarfs; the Redmen/Minutemen won or shared 13 YC titles from 1963-82. UMass won the I-AA (now FCS) national title in 1998 and reached the title game in 2006. A move to the FBS and the Mid-American Conference in 2012 (’cause when when you think of "Mid-America," the Bay State naturally comes to mind) has been … well … a 2-22 mark says it all. But with the return of Mark Whipple, who coached UMass to its finest hour in ’98, a spirit of optimism has returned to Amherst. (And the Minutemen will actually be playing in Amherst this year after spending two years at Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium while their home field underwent renovations.)
Notes/rules of thumb for UMass:
* For a team with a great football tradition, the Minutemen have burned through quite a few helmet designs (many combinations of “UM” and, later, “UMass”). Black helmets and uniforms were introduced in 2012 (the year they joined the MAC), and maroon helmets were added to the mix last year. Judging from preseason pictures, it looks like white helmets, used from 1969-2011, will return this year.
* Gold trim was used off and on from the 1940s until the mid-80s, which give some of the jerseys (in my opinion) kind of a BC look.
* Team has had FOUR nicknames over the last century: Aggies, Statesmen, Redmen (1946-72) and Minutemen (since 1973).
* From poring through the UMass yearbooks (see below), it appears the jerseys have turned slightly darker over the years.
The UMass yearbook is the Index, and many of the 1960s-70s yearbooks have plenty of color pictures. The UMass-UConn yearbooks are noticeably more comprehensive than their Yankee Conference brethren.
The 2013 look (see above): ELEVEN designs in 12 games, including special helmets for breast cancer awareness and Veteran’s Day. Actually, it’s 12 designs, if you count the Maine game, in which the UMass players came out for warmups in black helmets, black shirts and red pants, then played the game in all-red. The combo was used in game later that season, but with the star-spangled Veteran’s Day logo on the helmets in lieu of the “regular” logo.
In case you’re wondering, black helmet/white shirt/black pants was the one combo used twice. Use this info only for good and not evil.
For the “throwback” uniform, we’ll go to 1974, when UMass introduced one of my favorite logos in any sport, ever: The proud minuteman perched between the “U” and “M.” The helmet was used through 1984. The ’74 Minutemen tied for the Yankee Conference title (with Maine - ha!). Names were added to the jerseys a year later.
Up next: We turn to the Ivy League, starting with the Brown Bears.
One last note: I'm going to try to update the blog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with occasional "bonus" posts on other days.