ORONO — Dave Brown worked at ESPN for three decades as one of the network’s college football programming executives.

Unknown to many, he was the guy who helped set up many of the early-season games between national powers. When he decided to get out a couple of years ago, he wasn’t about to let all that experience go to waste. So Brown wrote a software package called Gridiron, which is now used by colleges to help fill out their schedules.

Among his clients is the University of Maine. Will Biberstein, the senior associate athletic director for internal operations at Maine, said Brown’s help is invaluable.

“He’s kind of like a subcontractor,” said Biberstein, who works on Maine’s football schedule. “What Dave does is keep a database of upcoming schedules for every game contract … Someone who does the scheduling can go in and look and say, ‘Hey Dave, I need a game on Week 3 of 2019.’

“You do a search and it will tell you who is available, if it’s an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) or FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), and you try to figure out who fits in my scheduling. It really streamlines the process.”

And Maine uses it as much as anyone. Next fall, for the third consecutive year, Maine will play two FBS teams – Central Florida on Sept. 30 and UMass on Nov. 11 at Fenway Park.

FBS schools provide more scholarships (85 full scholarships to 63 for FCS schools), have larger rosters and often larger players than FCS teams. Their willingness to provide guaranteed paydays to FCS schools to fill out their schedules is a boon to schools like Maine. While challenging, Coach Joe Harasymiak knows it’s essential financially.

“We’re at a point in time where we need to do things financially,” he said. “People know why we do it.”

Maine will receive $350,000 to play Central Florida and $250,000 from Massachusetts. The Black Bears also recently announced a game with Georgia Southern in 2019 and will receive $325,000 to play it.

Brown said his program makes the matchmaking process easier.

“What could have taken hours now takes seconds,” he said. But, he added, dates have to line up and in the end the schools have to sign the contracts.

Maine pays $5,000 for the service, which is used currently just for football. Brown, who said 120 FBS and 92 FCS schools use his program, hopes to add basketball.

“I’m really just trying to help (schools) find what they’re looking for and give them options to chose from,” said Brown.

Biberstein said Brown is more than that.

“He’s the man behind the curtain, making the magic happen,” he said. “It’s a crazy business right now.”

Brown helped Maine secure its game with Central Florida.

“I knew from talking to (Biberstein) that they were looking for an FBS game,” said Brown. “There were not a ton of options so I honed in on Central Florida quickly. They liked it and they got it done. I’m glad they got it done.”

He added that it’s more of a challenge to find games for Maine. While the Black Bears are looking for two FBS opponents, they would like one to be within a bus ride.

That limits options to Massachusetts, Connecticut and Boston College. Maybe Syracuse and maybe Buffalo. “But those are a long way from Maine,” said Brown.

And with power conferences such as the Big Ten saying they’re going to stop playing FCS schools, the options will be limited even more.

Harasymiak said the Black Bears will look to play more teams in the America Athletic Conference (of which Connecticut and Central Florida are members) and the Mid-American Conference (which includes last year’s opponent Toledo and schools such as Central Michigan and Buffalo).

“It’s not like there’s a menu of 25 teams out there looking for games,” said Harasymiak.

Maine was the only Colonial Athletic Association team to play two FBS games last year. The Black Bears lost both and finished 6-5.

Harasymiak said he realizes that playing two FBS teams puts Maine at a disadvantage with other CAA teams. But, he added it also has benefits.

“It helps me evaluate where we are at,” he said. “When we play well in the FBS games, we usually have a good year.”