Barely three weeks remain before the National Letter of Intent signing period begins for NCAA Division I football.
When Feb. 6 arrives, high school prospects will start signing on the dotted line to play at the college of their choice.
It might be good if the University of Maine’s head football coach did likewise — in his case, on a contract extension — before the signing period.
If nothing else, it would end any speculation about the potential for a coaching change in Orono.
None is forthcoming, as UMaine athletics director Steve Abbott indicated he expects the contract situation with Jack Cosgrove to be resolved.
“There has been progress. We’ve had very positive discussions,” Abbott said. “We’re just down to working out a few details at this point. We don’t have a deal, but I’m fully expecting and hoping that we will soon.”
It appears to be a matter of putting the terms down in writing to make them official.
Cosgrove has held the position since 1993 and has poured his heart and soul into the Black Bears program ever since. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have concerns.
In December, he was seeking assurances from Abbott and the university about the vision for the short-term future of UMaine football.
“Vision” means dollars. And short of a former player or donor stepping up with a significant gift or endowment, there isn’t likely to be much extra funding available for football at financially-challenged UMaine.
This isn’t Cosgrove’s first rodeo. He realizes things probably won’t change significantly in that regard, but you can’t blame him for trying to procure further support for his program.
So, what’s the hold up?
Cosgrove, whose contract expires in June, should be in line for another three- or four-year deal that includes a small salary bump. He is set to earn $175,000 during 2012-13.
Some argue having a head coach six months from the end of his contract at this critical time of the year will adversely affect UMaine’s recruiting.
Behind closed doors, Cosgrove certainly is giving recruits assurances that he’ll be on campus when they arrive for training camp in August.
In the vast majority of cases, UMaine is the only school to offer a full scholarship to the young men who wind up in the program. Most don’t have other Division I options.
That’s part of the allure — or maybe it’s mystique — of Black Bear football.
He might not admit it, but Cosgrove thrives on the us-against-the-world, chip-on-the-shoulder mentality that exists at UMaine. Even for all the headaches he goes through to put a good product on the field, he and his staff are committed to help mold 18-year-old kids into 21-year-old young men with college degrees.
The Black Bears remain consistently competitive in the Colonial Athletic Association, even though UMaine has trouble sustaining high-level success on a year-to-year basis.
It is a program that requires a certain kind of leader. Cosgrove is that man.