Maine has a pool of 25-30 applicants from which to select its new head football coach, Athletic Director Karlton Creech said.

The university had a Tuesday deadline for candidates to apply to replace Jack Cosgrove, who accepted an administrative job a week ago after 23 years on the sidelines.

Creech and his committee of seven, which includes Cosgrove, will narrow the list to four to six candidates for video interviews next week, he said.

Creech declined to offer specifics on the applicants, only to say that he believes there are several strong candidates and that he was pleased “some people we thought would be interested wound up applying.”

He would not say how many of Cosgrove’s former assistant coaches applied.

Creech wants to hire a new coach by mid-December.

FCS programs Austin Peay, Montana State and Southern Illinois also are in the market for head football coaches, but Creech said he doesn’t see Maine as being in competition with those schools.

“We have a pool of people uniquely qualified for Maine,” he said. “Am I worried about who Montana State is going to hire? Probably not.”

Creech said that once the video interviews are completed, the committee may choose to make a job offer to a candidate who obviously rises to the top. Or, more likely, it will select a couple of coaches to bring to Orono for on-campus interviews the following week.

He reiterated that Division I experience is a priority, but he doubts Maine would be able to land a sitting D-I head coach. Assistant coaches at that level are a more likely option.

“We have to be realistic about the factors around the Maine coaching job,” he said.

That could open the door for UMaine interim coach Joe Harasymiak, who has been the team’s defensive coordinator the past two years.

There were 16 FCS openings a year ago. Of those, four schools promoted from within. Another four landed coaches whose most recent experience was as a Division I head coach, most notably Youngstown State, which hired Bo Pelini after he was fired by Nebraska and finished 5-6 this season.

Two other schools hired Division II head coaches. The other six hired assistant coaches – four of them from FBS schools.

The 16 teams with first-year coaches combined to go 67-107 this year, with only Montana still alive in the FCS playoffs.

Creech said he’s prepared to move quickly to identify the coach charged with turning around a Black Bears program that finished 3-8 this fall.

“You don’t want to linger,” he said. “You don’t want to wait until January because a lot has happened by then.”