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Monday, December 30, 2013
Three predictions for 2014

By Jack McCluskey

Benjamin Franklin said it best: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

Franklin, of course, was talking about the hoped-for permanence of the United States' new Constitution, wryly observing that it might not last. Here, we're talking about predictions for college sports in 2014, so, admittedly, the stakes are nowhere close to the same.

After a 1-for-3 showing in this exercise last year, here's hoping the new year brings a little more forecasting success. But remember, nothing's certain in life except for ... well, you know.

1. Massachusetts will produce more than one Dancer come March: With UMass back in the Top 25 for the first time since 1998 and Harvard cruising along at the bottom of the “others receiving votes” list, as the calendar flips to 2014 it looks like more than one of the state’s seven Division I men’s hoops schools will have a shot at March Madness.

And though the Crimson and the Minutemen are the most likely Big Dance participants, don’t count out Boston University. The Terriers were a unanimous pick to finish first in their inaugural season in the Patriot League, and went on the road and beat a talented Maryland team in one of their last games of the calendar year.

2. A Flutie will play quarterback for the Eagles: OK, this one may be a bit of a stretch. After a record-setting high school career as a passer, Troy Flutie -- son of Darren, nephew of Doug and ESPNBoston.com’s Mr. Football for 2013 -- is committed to BC as an athlete.

Flutie finished his Natick Redhawks career with an MIAA-record 9,014 passing yards and 112 touchdown passes, including a single-season record 47 as a senior, so while Steve Addazio could still convert him to another position, it doesn’t seem out of the question that the Eagles coach might at least try him out under center once Chase Rettig has moved on.

3. UMass football will win more than one game: They say the third time’s a charm, so maybe Year 3 at the FBS level will be kinder to the Minutemen than Years 1 and 2 have been. With just two wins and 22 losses in the first two seasons of the transition from FCS to FBS, UMass fired coach Charley Molnar the day after Christmas and launched a search for a replacement.

The Minutemen made minor strides on the field in 2013, and if a few more bounces had gone their way in one-point losses to Western Michigan (which entered the Week 8 matchup winless) and Akron they would’ve made good on this prediction from last year.

But in addition to the on-field failures there was an investigation launched into Molnar and his staff after video surfaced of players engaging in one-on-one wrestling and boxing matches during winter conditioning. A report on that investigation is due in mid-January, and it's clear the university wants to distance itself from that incident entirely.

More than a few people connected with the school have made it clear they question the wisdom of the ambitious move up in competition, and firing a coach with three years and $836,000 left on his contract won't quiet that crowd. Those calls will only turn to shouts if a new coaching staff can't turn at least a few of those L’s into W’s in 2014.

Check out ESPN Boston's 14 predictions for 2014 by CLICKING HERE.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.