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Chiming in on UMass’ Bell



For the Recorder
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

New UMass football coach Walt Bell is a younger and more energetic version of Mark Whipple, an offensive guru who will get the pieces he needs for an up-tempo offense to light up the scoreboard.

Hopefully, he’ll also find a few guys who can tackle.

Yahoo Sports reported that the 34-year-old Tennessean signed a five-year deal at $625,000 per, plus an annual $25,000 retention bonus. Bell was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida State and made $700,000 this season plus a $25,000 signing bonus, according to tomahawknation.com. A photo shows him with a three-day growth and wearing his hat backward.

A criminal justice major at Middle Tennessee State, he looks like the sort who could be packing a detective’s badge in New York City. As a football coach, he’ll likely have the same nervous energy as Jim Harbaugh or Dabo Swinney.

Florida State’s offense ranked 102nd out of 129 teams this season, but the Seminole’s booster site said Bell was a victim of circumstance. “Bell’s offense sputtered due to an offensive line that was snake-bitten with injuries which decimated an already beleaguered group,” wrote tomahawknation’s Juan Montalvo and Courteney Korosec. “The 2018 season was not a great indicator of (his) ability as an offensive coordinator.”

Before arriving at Florida State, Bell was the OC at Maryland and the Terps piled up the yards under his brief tenure. USA Today’s list of 2017 assistant coaches’ salaries reports he made $500,000 before bolting to Tallahassee.

According to an article written by Roman Stubbs of the Washington Post, Walter A. Bell IV hails from a long line of Tennessee doctors. He was a wide receiver at MTSU and roomed with Sam Hunt, who’s now a country music star.

At Arkansas State, his teams averaged 79.1 plays per game while he refined “a spread offense that he developed during earlier stints at North Carolina and Oklahoma State,” wrote Stubbs.

Bell is a short-term solution that will help UMass AD Ryan Bamford’s long-term objectives. In two years, he’ll have the Minutemen at 7-5, get them into a bowl game, land them a conference affiliation and bolt for greener gridirons.

It’s the nature of the business. Nick Saban made nine college coaching stops en route to Alabama; Urban Meyer made six stops before he reached Florida and won the national title.

As for Walter Bell, this is his eighth stop aboard the FBS Express. The home opener is Sept. 7 against Southern Illinois and who knows, maybe Sam Hunt will sing the national anthem.

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A GAME AT A TIME: When the Mullins Center doors opened for Friday’s game against UConn, UMass defenseman Mario Ferraro was sitting in the lower seating area, listening to music and staring at the rink. Asked how he wasn’t letting the pressure of an eight-game winning streak and No. 3 national ranking get to him he replied, “Yesterday doesn’t matter. We just keep looking forward.”

Three days and one win later, UMass hockey is ranked best in the country. Numero Uno. Take a bow boys, you’ve earned it.

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OFF ICE ENGAGEMENT: During a time out at the Mullins Center on  Saturday, the in-house camera cut away from the ice and showed Megan Duga of New Salem being handed a dozen red roses and a goodie bag by Sam the Minuteman.

Duga was probably wondering why the fuss? Then the big screen showed her boyfriend Nick Mogelinski getting on one knee and giving her an engagement ring. “Wedding proposal,” I wrote in my notes. “All the girls cheer.”

The bride-to-be’s mother Michelle Duga was in on the secret. “He planned it for two weeks,” she said. “He wanted a way to surprise her and that was it. She thought he was going to talk about his job, but suddenly it’s like, ‘what is he doing?’”

Mogelinski manages the Sandri Sunoco station on Federal Street next to Pete’s Tire. Next time you stop for gas and a donut, ask him if they’re headed to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon and the Frozen Four.

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UMass Hockey Notes: UMass coach Greg Carvel was spotted doing a lap around the concourse before the UConn game. It didn’t take long for fans to recognize and congratulate him. … The Minutemen are closing in on UMass-Lowell for top draw in New England. The Riverhawks are averaging 4,865 and UMass is at 4,521. Carvel predicts a sellout for Saturday’s game against No. 8 Quinnipiac. ….   Defenseman Marc Del Gaizo leads the team in plus/minus with a +12. He was part of a package deal with brother Anthony Del Gaizo, who’s been dropped to the fourth line and drew a roughing call with three seconds left in the second period that precipitated a UConn power play goal. … Defenseman Ivan Chukarov suited up as the seventh defenseman, a spare part. The 23-year-old blueliner was the Sabres’ first pick in the seventh round of the 2015 draft. .… Captain Niko Hildenbrand’s empty-netter against UConn got him off the schneid, his first of the season. … Faces in the Crowd: Ray Willis and his granddaughter Susan, Tom and Ann Echeverria, Sally Richardson, Donna Woodcock and Princey Stotz. And Barb who worked with Sis Wells above Taylor’s Tavern. Sorry, I’m terrible with last names. … Zino George liked last week’s game so much he brought his wife Cathy to watch Friday’s game. … “We were too loose tonight,” Carvel said on the post-game show, telling Donnie Moorhouse he welcomed the six-day layoff before finishing the first half with three games in five days — home-and-away against Quinnipiac this weekend and at home against Yale on Tuesday. “We gotta really get the batteries charged for the last push,” he said.

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TRIVIGNO TWEAKS TWINE: When UMass left wing Bobby Trivigno skated in alone against UConn goalie Adam Huska in the third period on Friday night, he was caught and held by Philip Nyberg long enough to warrant a penalty shot. Trivigno beat Huska to record the first UMass goal on a penalty shot since Rocco Carzo did it on October 27, 2012. “I was doing play-by-play but had laryngitis that night and Adam Frenier subbed for me,” said radio’s Brock Hines. “But I did get to call Jon Quick’s goal the night he rung one up against Merrimack in 2007.”

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DA-NMH HOCKEY TODAY: If memory serves, the Deerfield Academy hockey team got its start on a field below the baseball diamond that was hollowed and flooded. Students watched from a slope called “the bank” where they were permitted to smoke cigarettes. They called themselves “bankers” and had their own anthem, “We’re a bunch of bankers, bankers are we, born in a…”

Well, that’s another story for another time. This afternoon, Deerfield will continue to christen its three-story, $52-million athletic complex when it hosts the NMH hockey team.

Deerfield beat the Groton School 5-0 on the road last weekend and NMH swept St. George’s of Middletown, R.I., 4-0, on Saturday and the Westminster School, 3-2, on Friday.

Neutral Zone Prep named fourth-year NMH mentor Kevin Czepiel Coach of the Year last season. Deerfield coach Tim McVaugh enters his third season behind the bench and is coming off a 10-13-2 campaign that included a 4-1 blemish against NMH.

The puck drops at 5 p.m. and the public is invited.

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BEE STINGS: The Minutemen can’t overlook AIC (7-7-1) on Jan. 5 at the MassMutual Center. UMass has won three of five against AIC in recent years, but the Yellowjackets would take great glee in beating their highly-regarded foe from up the road.   

AIC headed into the semester break riding a four game win streak that included two-game sweeps of Air Force (by an aggregate 9-0 score) and Holy Cross. Three of the losses were to 8th-ranked Quinnipiac (twice) and 10th-ranked Providence. 

Third-year coach Eric Lang has recruited players from the U.S., Canada, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Sweden, Slovakia and Norway. He also grabbed a player from UNLV that was playing club hockey.

Another skater, junior Joel Kocur, boasts hockey bloodlines. His father Kory was a first round pick of the Detroit Red Wings, and his uncle Joey scored 80 goals in the NHL, including 55 for the Red Wings from 1985-91.

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NOTES: The Hoosac Valley football team that beat Turners Falls to advance in the playoffs lost to Central Mass. powerhouse St. Bernards, 42-0, in the semifinals. St. Bernard’s went on to beat Pope John, 46-35, in the Div. 8 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. … The MAC championship game drew 10,255 at Ford Field on Saturday where Northern Illinois beat Buffalo, 30-29. … Penn State football has announced it will increase public season tickets in 2019 from $420 to $434 for its seven home games. … The Miami (Ohio) Redhawks won their last three games to finish 6-6 but were shut out of a bowl game. … Andy Isabella was first in FBS receiving yards (1,698), second in catches (102), and fifth in TD catches (13). Most draft sites say he’ll go between the third and ninth round. Wes Welker was undrafted and Julian Edelman was taken by the Patriots in the seventh round.