ORONO, Maine — New University of Maine head football coach Jordan Stevens was probably a little nervous as he addressed the media and UMaine staff members after being introduced as the new coach at the Alfond Family Lounge in Alfond Arena on Thursday.
He came to UMaine after seven seasons as an assistant at Yale University, so this was a totally new experience for him. The former Yale assistant head coach-co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach is replacing Nick Charlton, who left after three seasons to become the assistant head coach-offensive coordinator at the University of Connecticut.
But Stevens, the school’s 37th head football coach and a native of the Franklin County town of Temple, population 518 — and was an All-Colonial Athletic Association defensive end at UMaine — calmly outlined his lofty expectations for the program.
“We want to win CAA championships and be the most physically dominant team in the conference. We want that [Brice-Cowell] Musket in our locker room every year,” said the 34-year-old former Mt. Blue High School of Farmington standout, referring to the musket given to the winner of the UMaine-New Hampshire football game every season.
Stevens, who will earn $245,000 per year for four years and can get two more years tacked on if he finishes with a winning record in the CAA in one of his first three seasons, thanked family and mentors, including former UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove and Yale coach Tony Reno.
After the news conference, he spoke to the media and said before assembling his coaching staff, he intends to meet with his players individually. He met with the entire team on Wednesday night, saying his message was that UMaine is building a culture.
“This is going to be a special opportunity for these players to be a part of this program and they’re going to feel that,” he said.
Stevens did not signal a housecleaning on the coaching staff: While he said he will build it over the coming weeks, current members of the staff will be seriously considered and that he is working with many of them to help ensure recruits who committed to UMaine will still come.
“They’ve done some great things here,” he said. “I’m excited to get the whole group back [from recruiting] and getting to know them.”
The first hurdle is a National Letter of Intent signing day for recruits on Dec. 15, with Stevens saying his role now is to help staff “fill in and complete some of the guys we’re closing in on.” Another signing day is on Feb. 2 and he will be heavily involved in recruiting by then.
“My biggest priority is getting to know the roster and the second piece is recruiting,” Stevens said. “We have to make sure we have a game plan going forward into January. Pushing toward that February signing date is going to be important.”
The players leave for Christmas break shortly and he said the challenge he will give them is to be “accountable to your teammates and make sure we are doing the things necessary to put us in position to hit the ground running when we get back” after UMaine went 6-5 this past season, 4-4 in the CAA, and finished with five wins in its last six games.
“We can build a tremendous team here. There are a lot of pieces to build on. There is a lot of talent on that roster,” Stevens said. “We have tremendous young men who have given themselves to Maine football.”