Matt Friedman had the chance to become a college football coach shortly after he graduated from college, only to turn it down.
Given a second opportunity some two decades later, Friedman has opted to revisit the collegiate option as the new wide receivers coach at Husson University in Bangor.
“Since I’ve gotten into coaching a little over 10 years ago I’ve always wanted to try out the college game. It’s been a goal of mine to get to this point,” said Friedman, most recently the head football coach at Skowhegan Area High School.
“For me it’s making good on maybe a mistake I made in the past where I had an opportunity coming out of college to get into coaching and decided not to take it. I always wondered if I could do it. I wanted to prove it to myself and I love the game so I thought this would be a really good chance to hone my skills.”
Skowhegan expects to name an interim head coach from within the current staff to replace Friedman for the coming season, according to Jon Christopher, the school’s athletic administrator. High school preseason practices around the state are scheduled to begin in less than a month, on Aug. 14.
“We plan to go through the 2017 season with an interim head coach and then we will advertise and interview during the winter months to determine who the coach will be moving forward,” said Christopher via email. “It is really too late in the year to get a good pool of candidates, a good assistant staff and to teach the kids a new system, so the interim route seems like the best option for this year.”
Friedman led the Skowhegan program for the last five years, introducing the spread offense to the Indians and helping recent graduate Garrett McSweeney emerge as one of the state’s top quarterbacks and a Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist last fall after passing for 2,433 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Skowhegan went 5-4 last year, good for fourth place in the final Pine Tree Conference standings and a berth in the Class B North quarterfinals.
The 1990 graduate of Jay High School was head coach at Madison-Carrabec for three years before taking the Skowhegan job.
“I loved it at Skowhegan,” Friedman said. “If this opportunity hadn’t arisen I’d be more than happy to still be there right now. I’m older, I’m 45 years old, and it’s a tough enough business for college coaches to break into the ranks so to do it at an older age I had to take advantage of the opportunity when I had the chance.”
Friedman will join a Husson University program led by head coach Gabby Price that is coming off a 9-2 season in 2016 highlighted by the Eagles’ second Eastern Collegiate Football Conference championship in the last three years and a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
“I definitely have an affinity for the offensive side of the football, and I believe that position was open and coach Price thought it would be a good fit for me and I tend to agree with him there,” said Friedman.
Friedman will be reunited with at least two of his former Skowhegan players at Husson, sophomore defensive back Spencer Salley and senior tight end D.J. Allen, a first-team All-ECFC choice in 2016 who will be one of the Eagles’ tri-captains this fall.
“I’ve got a couple of guys who played for me at Skowhegan up there and they’ve told me how great it is, what a great atmosphere it is for them as players and how the coaching staff cares for them and shows them the right way to do things,” Friedman said. “I couldn’t think of a better college coaching staff to get started with.”