The Xs and Os guy
UMass coach Charley Molnar is trying to bring the football program to college's highest level but it's an uphill climb
What prompted you to come here from Notre Dame and attempt to elevate UMass’s football program? Well, like every assistant coach, I had dreams and goals to become a head coach at some point in my career, but, different than other coaches, I always envisioned myself as being a builder. This wasn’t a startup. But a chance to take a program from the FCS [formerly Div. 1-AA] level to the FBS [formerly Div. 1-A] level was right up my alley, seemed like a challenge I was interested in. I could really roll up my sleeves, put my fingerprints on the program from its development into becoming a 1-A team.
You came from a program where the stadiums were sold out on a regular basis. Now the home games are at Gillette Stadium, 100 miles away from your Amherst campus. Is that a disconnect for the student body? It’s like many parts of our program; it’s a work in progress. We have enough of a constituency out in the eastern part of the state and it’s our job to excite that group and to get them to want to buy tickets and come to the games. As far as our student population, we’ve made it easy for them to become active at our game day and, you know, not everyone has taken the opportunity but as our team grows and our success grows I think we’ll find more and more students traveling down the Mass. Pike to Foxboro.
Does that affect your recruiting one way or another? Zero. I think everybody that we recruit understands where we are at today, but they can all see the vision of where this program is going to be in two, three, four years when they are actually here and part of the football program.
Are there more difficulties working within a system such as UMass that has accountability to taxpayers as opposed to a private school like Notre Dame? I think you have to really research your question a little better because I don’t think this is a publicly funded program. There are subsides from the university, like every athletic department in America, but this isn’t like the taxpayers are paying all these scholarships and the entire equipment and recruiting budget and all that stuff. Much of that is privately given funds, so I want to be careful. I do feel responsibility to all the stakeholders at whatever school I’ve worked at, be it private or public.