FOXBOROUGH --- Before he became a professional football player, Patriots safety James Ihedigbo played at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst for head coaches Mark Whipple and Don Brown. All his home games were played within the friendly confines of McGuirk Stadium.
Now that Ihedigbo plays for the Patriots, all his home games are held at the 68,000-seat Gillette Stadium.
But Ihedigbo said today he will be thrilled to share his professional workplace with his alma mater's football team next season when the Minutemen, who were expected to announce the hiring of Notre Dame offensive coordinator Charley Molnar as their next head coach, make the jump up to the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Mid-American Conference.
Ihedigbo, quite naturally, was encouraged by the direction of the program.
"Extremely excited,'' Ihedigbo said today. "it's awesome that they're making this jump. It's a testament to the guys who have played and coached at UMass beforehand and the hard work that they've put in to put the university in this position.
" It's excellent for the program, excellent for the community and excellent for UMass.''
Asked if he would've loved to have played his college home games at Gillette Stadium, Ihedigbo replied, "Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, why not? Great stadium. It's a different dynamic, because there are a lot of [UMass] fans there in Amherst and Western Mass., but there's a whole lot more in Eastern Mass. and the Boston area as well. For all of them to be able to attend a game and support UMass it's just going to be in the school's favor.''