I'm not a fan of the 'partial member' for revenue sports, but I also don't think it's the end of the world. Unlike a huge percentage of MAC fans I am completely agnostic on the issue, to me it's all about the big picture. Temple made sense as a partial member, they had everything except a conference. UMass, on the other hand was losing its conference geography and could not go up to FBS without a place to hang their hats.
The MAC would be far better off it Temple and/or UMass were also basketball members but they would be marginally worse off without the shcools as FB Members. There is an issue about splitting an already small pie into even more pictures but there are intangibles to consider.
Of any full MAC member the school which benefits the most from UMass joining (assuming Temple stays in the MAC) is Bowling Green. The Falcons have to top the list of full MAC East members who will get sent over to the west with Miami being a distant second.
Bowling Green going over to the West means that their annual date with Toledo is no longer a cross over divisional game and that their intra division games no longer include the three teams furthest east (Buffalo, Temple, and UMass).
So what does the addition of the Minutemen mean to Buffalo?
It's a bit over seven hours from UB to UMass where as is Bowling Green was only about six hours away. While losing an hour each way this is only a minor net negative for Buffalo. It could be worse, we could be one of the Ohio schools..
The benefit to Buffalo is that any UMass fans who want to go to a road game have two options. Temple or Buffalo, if the MAC front office has any desire to build a rivalry among its eastern most members UMass will alternate road trips to Buffalo and Temple every year.
Buffalo, as a school, is dissimilar to most other MAC Schools. While New York has no official flag ship universities Buffalo is the most likely to fill the role should the state ever rethink its university system. No other MAC school is near the flagship level for their state.
UMass and UB have pretty similar institutional profiles. Were UMass a full member they would be the closest thing to a rival institution in the MAC. Unfortunately with UMass and Temple playing in the A10 and the MAC East odds are all UMass does is further weaken the barely existing sense of Rivalry that UB and Temple were nurturing.
If UMass starts to play on par with the other MAC members, and generates any real kind of following, then UMass fans will be far more likely to come to a game at UB Stadium than Bowling Green fans were. People in the Western New York Area who only vaguely follow college sports might be more enticed by UMass that Bowling Green.
One the flip site if the Minutemen have swung a deal like Temples the Bulls, and every other MAC member, will be getting a smaller part of the NCAA and BCS pie.
Last year the MAC pulled in 2.6 Million from the BCS, a bit over two hundred thousand per team, in a 14 member MAC that number drops to 186 thousand. The MAC is already getting less, per team, than any other conference adding another member deducts another 14 thousand from that number.
So the Big Question is does the addition of UMass add 14 thousand to each team in the conference some other way? I doubt they'll ever bring the number of fans to a UB Game needed to make up that number and as we learned from Temple last year a bigger MAC does not mean more Bowls, just a greater chance for a snub.
If the MAC can use the addition of UMass to negotiate a new TV deal with ESPN then this could greatly benefit the conference. The MAC's TV deal if pitiful when compared to some of the other NON-AQ conferences and, unfortunately, if the conference stays static its a very long term deal.
I'd rather play UMass than, say, Wisconsin Green Bay, but a game against the Minutemen is not going to be the RPI juice that we get from Temple. They are a middle of the pack A-10 team which usually puts their RPI's somewhere between 120-180. Far better than some of the teams UB has played and we get some guaranteed home games from the deal.
on a scale of one to ten the UMass deal gets a lukewarm six for Buffalo. If this somehow allows the Conference to go after a new TV deal this is a 9 or a ten.