When the MAC announced that it and UMass's still-fledgling FBS football program would be going their separate ways after the 2015 season, the first question to surface after the surprise subsided was obvious: what are the Minutemen going to do now?
One possibility floated was a leap to the American, either as a full or football-only member, but AAC commissioner Mike Aresco told the Daily Hampshire Gazette Friday that expansion wasn't on the league's radar.
“We have a lot of respect for UMass. It's a flagship university, a high quality northeast presence. UMass has a lot of things going for it,” Aresco said. “We don't have any plans to expand.”
In typical commissioner-speak, Aresco wouldn't rule out expansion entirely, but said he was completely satisfied with the conference's planned 12-team football configuration for 2015. Tulane, East Carolina and and Tulsa will join the current eight-team league for the 2014 season, with Navy entering as a football-only member the following year.
"I don't know there's going to be much realignment the next few years,” Aresco told the Gazette. “We think we'll be a cohesive stable group of 12."
It's hard to argue the Minutemen would offer an immediate boost the AAC's on-field product, having gone 2-22 under Charley Molnar their first two FBS seasons. Molnar was fired in December and replaced by former FCS UMass head coach Mark Whipple.
In other words: never say never, but unless a current American program follows Rutgers' or Louisville's lead and gets a hoist up into a power conference, UMass should probably plan on looking elsewhere.