The University of Maine football program has new energy as they hired Joe Harasymiak this past off-season to take over the reins of head coach. Harasymiak is only 30 years old and now officially listed as the youngest head coach in the nation.
Harasymiak is integral to the Black Bears program, having served as an assistant over the last five years for legendary Head Coach Jack Cosgrove, who stepped down after 23 years on the job.
Before coming to Maine, Harasymiak was an assistant coach at Maine Maritime Academy in 2008. He also was an assistant wide receivers and quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, Springfield College.
Harasymiak was hired by Maine in 2011 as a defensive assistant for the defensive backs. While an assistant with the defense, he helped coach the Black Bears to the No. 1 ranked Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) pass defense while also working with NFL fourth round selection, Jerron McMillian. In 2012 he was promoted to head defensive backs coach where he guided Maine to the top-ranked pass defense in the CAA and coached Kendall James who was selected in the sixth round of the NFL draft that year.
The past two seasons Harasymiak has been the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. His spectacular display of coaching as an assistant for Cosgrove the last five seasons ultimately propelled him to earn the head coaching job.
Harasymiak is honored to step in for Cosgrove at such a young age after the great, long tenure and legacy coach Cosgrove left behind to fill a newly created position as the senior associate director of athletics
“Coach Cosgrove is Maine football. He’s been the coach for over 20 years. He is the reason that this program has a lot of rich tradition. I’m just extremely humbled and excited to be the next leader of this great tradition. And he’s still here to help out and bounce ideas off of. But, obviously getting this opportunity is extremely humbling and I’m excited to have this chance,” Harasymiak said.
Harasymiak understands the importance of still having Cosgrove around the program and athletic department for his personal growth as a young head coach.
“It’s huge. He is someone who went here as a student, played here, came back and coached here as an assistant and head coach. He knows this place probably better than anyone on this campus. He knows what makes it tick and the challenges associated with the University of Maine. To have him as a resource now in the athletic department will only mean positive things.”
The past two seasons have not been ideal for the Black Bears and Harasymiak will be the first one to tell you that. They went 5-6 in 2014 and 3-8 last season. Harasymiak believes that with the new staff, coaches and players they can bounce back this season.
“First and foremost there’s a new staff, new coaches and new players. So I think the first thing we want to do is earn people’s respect. We’ve had a couple bad seasons the last two years. I’m a young head coach, we got a lot of young coaches on the staff. Our expectations are to earn respect and compete. Also, just to have Black Bear nation behind us and the ultimate goal is going to be to win a lot of games,” Harasymiak said.
Harasymiak certainly seems to have the respect of his players as third-year wide receiver Marquise Adams had kind things to say about his new head coach.
“He’s a guy that gets the best out of his players,” Adams said. “The team believes in Coach and that’s the most important thing.”
It certainly seems that the Maine football program is in good hands for years to come. After suffering a tough opening game loss to UConn 24-21, Harasymiak and Maine are on the road as they look to get back on track Saturday night at 7 p.m. against Toledo.