If things were different, UMass might be the perfect kind of school to join the Big East Conference. They're a Northeastern school with roots. They have a strong basketball history. They're close-ish to a major market that the conference currently does not have a team in (Boston).
I've thrown their name out there in past as a possible choice for expansion, but only in the world of massive expansion. Say, if the Big East decided to go the ludicrous speed and expand to 16 football teams, then UMass might make sense.
However that scenario, and the scenario that the Big East has time to grow and develop, is a pipe dream. The Big East needs success and it needs it right now. It needs proven track records. It needs massive awareness and market share and all that good stuff.
So that's why, when UMass reportedly reached out to the Big East last month and inquired about joining the conference, the answer was a polite "thanks but no thanks."
It's already going to be hard enough waiting for Villanova to transition from FCS to FBS, we certainly don't have the time or energy to work with two schools doing it at the same time. And since they're already a member, the Wildcats just make a ton more sense than the Minutemen. Yes, UMass is willing to throw around a lot of money, but so is UCF, Memphis, East Carolina and Houston.
Shame, in another world out there, I could see UMass as a member of the Big East. Just not this world.