Next week, the two finalists for the University of Maine’s vacant head football coaching position will visit Orono.
The men ought to feel right at home, since both of them have either played for or coached with the Black Bears.
UMaine athletics director Karlton Creech on Thursday said the search committee charged with identifying the next head coach chose the pair from among four candidates who were interviewed via videoconference earlier this week.
“We have qualified candidates, with Division I coaching experience, that really want to be the next head coach at the University of Maine,” said Creech, who heads the committee made up mostly of UMaine’s senior athletics leadership team, including former longtime head football coach Jack Cosgrove, who on Nov. 24 stepped down to become the senior associate athletic director.
Creech said the committee determined that it was important the next coach have ties to the program, in addition to outstanding football credentials. All four of the candidates interviewed last week, and a handful of others, were former Black Bear players and/or assistant coaches.
“With our geography, our history here, the only Division I program in the state of Maine, it really is beneficial for the next head coach to have some first-hand knowledge of what it takes to be successful at Maine,” Creech said.
He said each of the finalists now serves as an offensive or defensive coordinator at an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision program.
“The good news is for us, either one of them will make a great head coach, so really what we’re evaluating is fit and timing,” Creech said.
Cosgrove has publicly voiced his support for interim head coach Joe Harasymiak, who has spent two seasons as UMaine’s defensive coordinator, as a candidate for the permanent position. However, Creech declined to identify the finalists or any of the people interviewed.
“They’re applying for a very public job at a public institution, but they all have jobs right now,” he explained.
“I want to be respectful to them and their candidacy and not do anything to harm them because they wanted to be a candidate for our job.”
Creech stressed the importance of Cosgrove’s role in helping define what qualities and qualifications the committee should be looking for in a head coach.
“A lot of credit goes to Jack for the coaching tree that he’s built during his years as the head coach here,” Creech said. “That gave us the luxury of having lots of qualified candidates with ties to UMaine, either having coached or played here.”
Among possible UMaine candidates serving as FCS coordinators are: Kevin Bourgoin (2005-present as coach at UMaine), associate head coach/offensive coordinator; Jared Backus (1999-2001), associate head coach/defensive coordinator, Dartmouth; Kevin Cahill (2008-2011), pass game coordinator, Yale; Dennis Dottin-Carter (2008-2012), co-defensive coordinator, Delaware; Mickey Fein (2001-2002), offensive coordinator, Lafayette; Mike Kelleher (1996), defensive coordinator, Brown; and Steve Vashel (2009-2011), defensive coordinator, Yale.
Even though barely two weeks have passed since Cosgrove relinquished control of the football program, Creech and the committee appear poised to have a coach on board in the next 10 days or so.
“There’s some very practical reasons why we need to work as quickly as we can,” reiterating the importance of UMaine’s recruiting efforts in working toward the National Letter of Intent signing period in February.
An offer likely will have been made to one of the finalists by the end of next week.
“It will be timing and what that person’s schedule looks like and those sorts of things as far as when an announcement will come,” Creech said. “The goal was to have a coach on board before the holiday hits and we’re on pace to get there.”