Joe Harasymiak has a wealth of experience for someone who is still only 32 years old. His stints include:
· 2008: Maine Maritime Academy (Assistant Coach)
· 2009-10: Springfield College (Graduate Assistant - Wide Receivers/Quarterbacks)
· 2011: Maine (Defensive Assistant/Defensive Backs)
· 2012-13: Maine (Defensive Backs)
· 2014-15: Maine (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)
· 2015-now: Maine (Head Coach)
Harasymiak is currently in his third season at the University of Maine with an 18-14 record and program improving every season. His Black Bears earned a bye in the first round of the FCS playoffs and play this Saturday against Jacksonville State.
What’s There to Like
Harasymiak may be the hottest New England football commodity sans Mr. Brady.
Harasymiak is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award for FCS Coach of the Year. He was also named the winner of the 2018 New England Writers Association Coach of the Year (FBS/FCS) level this week, which should catch plenty of attention with those doing the hiring in Amherst.
He is a New Jersey native, who recruits well for an FCS program in both New Jersey and New York. Harasymiak is also a graduate of Springfield College, just a stone’s throw from the UMass campus. If he enjoyed his time in western Massachusetts, a return trip could be in the cards.
Ultimately, UMass needs to build from the ground up. A young coach, who could grow with the program, should be an attractive trait. Also, his defense has been in the Top 20. Given the state of UMass and their defense this past season, an infusion of new ideas on that side of the ball could be healthy.
Also, with Maine winning at Western Kentucky 31-28 earlier this season, he is 1-0 vs. FBS in 2018.
Why They Should Proceed with Caution
What he has done with the Black Bears is impressive, but is it a large enough sample size to feel comfortable when hiring?
Although 2018 has been solid, the Black Bears finish last season with a 4-6 overall record (though four games were against teams ranked in the top 13 of the FCS and three games were close).
For a program graduating about two dozen seniors, including most of their big play-makers, a rebuild is something UMass fans are faced with this year. How will he do recruiting a larger program?
The results will have to come sooner rather than later for a fanbase craving success at the FBS level.
Why He Would Take the Job
The step up to the FBS level at 32 would instantly make him the youngest head coach at college football’s top tier.
He would be able to fill the roster by Year No. 2 with most of his hand-picked recruits. Also, given that UMass is an Independent school, the chance to get creative with scheduling in a few years is enticing.
Quite frankly, even if his stint at UMass would not end up being a match made in heaven, it would still give him quality experience at the FBS level if a cushier position at a big program opened up.
The UMass position has to be one of the toughest to nail down.
With all the roster and coaching turnover, the head coaching position does represent a chance for someone to leave a personalized stamp on the Minutemen fairly quickly.
I cannot speak to how relatively ambitious Harasymiak is or how committed to the University of Maine he is, given his recent experience “growing up” through the coaching ranks in Orono.
He checks most of the boxes and should be one of the unofficial front-runners for the job down in Amherst.