UConn UMass Football


UMass head coach Walt Bell watches play during a game last season against UConn.

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Changes in college football coaching staffs are like clockwork, coming regularly.

There is no exception for second-year coach Walt Bell at the University of Massachusetts. As the Minutemen prepare for Saturday's season-opener against Georgia Southern, Bell has been working with some old staff members in new positions.

"For me, it hasn't really changed anything," Bell said on a recent Zoom call with reporters. "I'm still pretty much involved with everything we do — offense, defense, special teams."

Angelo Mirando, who spent 2019 as the team's quarterbacks coach, is now the offensive coordinator. Fredi Knighten, the running backs coach, has also taken on the role of working with the UMass quarterbacks. In 2019, UMass did not officially have an offensive coordinator.

Last year, UMass had co-defensive coordinators in Tommy Restivo and Aazar Abdul-Rahim. For 2020, Restivo has taken over as the lone DC, after Abdul-Rahim took a job as defensive backs coach and defensive pass game coordinator under new coach Jeff Hafley at Boston College.

"I think, more than anything else, there's a little more of a comforting factor, knowing that Angelo can be a little more of a head coach with the offense and how to oversee things. It's a little bit more of an NFL model," Bell said. "Obviously, having Tommy in the organization, I feel really good about our staff and where they are.

"It allows me to be more involved with the players, not concerned with what goes on between the white lines. In today's age, you have to recruit your players every day. The ability to build relationships and build meaningful relationships and ask meaningful questions — I think, more than anything, it allows me to do a better job with the players."

Mirando and Restivo both came to UMass on Bell's staff for the 2019 season. 

Mirando was the offensive coordinator at Division I-FCS Eastern Kentucky for two seasons before arriving in Amherst. He had been the offensive coordinator, quarterbacks and wide receivers coach at Coffeyville (Kansas) Junior College for two seasons before his stop in Eastern Kentucky. Miranda had also been an assistant wide receivers and assistant quarterbacks coach at Mississippi State.

Restivo came to UMass after being the safeties coach at South Florida. He had been a defensive coordinator at South Carolina State and McNeese State.

Bell was asked about the staff geometry and whether he's doing things differently.

"From a schematic standpoint, just because the amount of large bodies we have," he said. "We have been able to block and tackle so much more. Our ability to block and tackle to the ground, play real football and play physical football in practice, simply because of the bigger bodies we have and how physically mature we've gotten in a year's time with all the young guys, I think that's the biggest thing."

Howard Herman can be reached at  hherman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6253. On Twitter: @howardherman


Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.


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