Less than a year after leaving Maryland football for Florida State, Walt Bell is now an FBS head coach. The University of Massachusetts hired the 34-year-old Bell to lead its program on Monday.
Bell served as Maryland’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under DJ Durkin from 2016-17, coming to College Park after a successful stint in the same role at Arkansas State. Although the Terps’ offense never took off with Bell calling plays—injuries to quarterbacks Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill in 2017 certainly didn’t help—he joined Willie Taggart’s staff at Florida State in January 2018. Maryland hired Matt Canada as Bell’s replacement, and Canada was thrust into interim head coaching duties with Durkin placed on administrative leave in August and fired in October.
In Bell’s lone season at Florida State, the Seminoles went 5-7 and missed a bowl game for the first time in 36 seasons. The team finished 114th in scoring offense, and Bell assumed full-time play-calling duties midway through the season after splitting that responsibility with Taggart. Much like at Maryland, injuries played a role, particularly on the offensive line, and Deondre Francois wasn’t the dynamic quarterback he was before his 2017 injury.
The Minutemen went 4-8 in 2018 and 12-36 in four years under Mark Whipple (who at age 61 is 27 years older than his successor). UMass is one of six FBS independents, but the only Power 5 opponents on its 2019 schedule are Northwestern and Rutgers.
Bell’s UMass contract, as reported by Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, is for five years at $675,000 per year. His three-year-deal at Florida State would have paid him an average of $700,000.
In other news
Maryland’s own head coaching search should be nearing its end. All three finalists—Canada, Pep Hamilton and widely reported frontrunner Mike Locksley—interviewed for the job yesterday, according to The Washington Post.
Canada also reportedly met with Louisville officials Monday, but it doesn’t look like he’ll wind up with that job. The Cardinals are expected to announce Appalachian State’s Scott Satterfield as their head coach today.
The men’s basketball team is up one spot in the AP top 25 after going 1-1 in home games against Virginia and Penn State last week.
Women’s basketball stayed at No. 7. Other than UConn and Notre Dame swapping places at No. 1 and No. 2 after Sunday’s head-to-head meeting, the rest of the top seven remains the same.
Maryland athletics has a new lead spokesperson. Jessica Jennings, who had served as the university’s Director of Communications since 2017, will also manage the athletic department’s media relations unit.