Colleges notebook: UMass hires Shane Montgomery as new offensive coordinator

Former Miami (Ohio) head coach Shane Montgomery directs his team against Colorado during action in Boulder, Colo., in 2007. Montgomery was officially hired this week as the UMass offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Former Miami (Ohio) head coach Shane Montgomery directs his team against Colorado during action in Boulder, Colo., in 2007. Montgomery was officially hired this week as the UMass offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. AP FILE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-15-2024 3:19 PM

Following the departure of offensive coordinator Steve Casula, the UMass football team had perhaps the most important decision of its offseason when choosing who was going to fill the hole.

Casula left to take the tight ends coaching job for the defending national champion Michigan Wolverines, where he spent three years as an analyst prior to his two seasons in Amherst.

Under Casula, the Minutemen’s offense developed at a rapid rate, and it moved the ball and scored points at a rate that wasn’t seen in previous years. So, with the importance of continuing to develop an offense with elite play makers, it was essential for UMass to get this hire right.

And on Thursday, the program officially announced Shane Montgomery as the new play caller. Montgomery has 33 years of Division 1 coaching experience (16 years as an offensive coordinator), most recently serving as a senior offensive analyst at East Carolina a year ago. The 56-year-old has tutored a plethora of standout quarterbacks throughout his career, including Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger, and UMass head coach Don Brown has faith he will help Taisun Phommachanh and the rest of the offense pursue new heights.

“Shane brings tremendous college success as an experienced coordinator and former FBS head coach,” UMass head coach Don Brown said. “He has tutored some outstanding quarterbacks in his career and he will continue to move our program forward.”

From 2005-2008, Montgomery led Miami (Ohio) as the program’s head coach. Despite a 17-31 record, he did lead them to the MAC title game in 2007.

Before his stint with East Carolina, Montgomery spent the previous two seasons as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at the University of Buffalo (2021-22), while also coaching in some capacity at James Madison, Charlotte, Youngstown State, Akron, Miami (Ohio) and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

Montgomery was a finalist for the Frank Broyles award, which recognizes college football’s top assistant coach, in 2003. During his playing days, Montgomery was also a quarterback at North Carolina State (1985-89). He was the offensive MVP of the 1988 Peach Bowl and the 1989 Copper Bowl.

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Given his dazzling resume and clear experience coaching at a high level, UMass seems to have found its guy. This should do wonders for the development of Phommachanh, and with Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams back in the fold after rescinding his declaration for the NFL Draft, the Minutemen have plenty of firepower for Montgomery to work with this fall.

UMass opens its season at home for the first time in six years, as it hosts Eastern Michigan on Aug. 31.

Home openers on tap for UMass lacrosse

This weekend marks the home openers for both the UMass men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, as the Minutewomen take to Garber Field on Saturday at noon while the Minutemen follow that up with a 3 p.m. contest.

On the women’s side, UMass opens its home slate with Brown. The Minutewomen dropped their season opener at Boston College last Friday, losing 20-9 to the No. 2 ranked team in the country.

UMass is currently ranked No. 20 in the country, and hopes to improve on 12 straight Atlantic 10 regular season titles when conference play begins down the road. But first the Minutewomen need to get on track against Brown.

Charlotte Wilmoth tallied a team-high four goals for UMass in the loss at Boston College, while Lauren Tolve, Fiona McGowan (three assists), Skylar Simmonds (one assist), Kassidy Morris (one assist) and Lil Hancock each found the back of the net as well.

McGowan is expected to have another big year for the Minutewomen, and her four-point day against a top team in the country was the perfect start to her graduate senior season. Look for that to continue against Brown at Gerber Field.

On the men’s side, UMass lost a 13-12 heartbreaker to Army down in Atlanta, Georgia last weekend. For a team with middle-of-the-pack expectations according to the A-10 preseason poll, a one-goal loss to the No. 6 team in the country certainly wasn’t a bad result to kick the year off.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the game was tied at seven apiece. The Minutemen then rattled off three straight goals to take a quick 10-7 lead less than five minutes into the frame. It was all Black Knights the rest of the way however, as they scored six of the game’s next eight goals to earn the win.

Eight different players tallied a score for UMass, including Grant Breyo’s hat trick to lead the way.

The Minutemen host in-state rival UMass Lowell at 3 p.m. following the conclusion of the women’s contest.

Smith College geared for NEWMAC run

The No. 15 team in the country in Division 3 wraps up its regular season slate this weekend before turning its attention to a third consecutive conference tournament championship.

Smith College (21-3) hosts Wellesley College at 2 p.m. on Saturday in a non-conference bout, then next week is the start of the NEWMAC tournament.

A win and a Springfield College loss at Emerson (also Saturday) would guarantee home-court advantage throughout the conference tournament for the Pioneers.

It’s been quite the run Lynn Hersey and Smith College have been on over the past several years, and the Pioneers have a golden opportunity to cash in on a three-peat if they keep playing the brand of basketball they have since the new year (winners of 13 of their last 14 games).

The NEWMAC tournament begins with the quarterfinal rounds on Wednesday, Feb. 21, before wrapping up with the semifinals that Friday and the championship on Sunday, Feb. 25.