Jack Cosgrove is Maine Black Bear Football.
Whether as a player, assistant coach, or entering his 23rd season as head coach of the program, Cosgrove has devoted his life to the overall success and well-being of the program. His pride in the University and the program is evident by the success achieved on and off the field.
He has coached in more games than any other head coach in program history (253), has taken part in over 300 games in program history as either a player or coach (assistant and head), and is the leader in program history for career wins with 126. While at Maine, Cosgrove has mentored 20 All-Americans. In the spring of 2013, Coach Cosgrove was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame.
During the last 13 seasons, few coaches in the Colonial Athletic Association can lay claim to the success that Cosgrove has achieved. He has guided Maine to a 91-68 mark, finishing first or second in the conference or division seven times, including two Atlantic 10 championships (2001-02), five NCAA FCS playoff appearances (2001, 2002, 2008, 2011 & 2013) and leading the Black Bears to a pair of wins over FBS opponents, the first in 2004 when they knocked off Mississippi State, 9-7, before defeating UMass at Gillette Stadium, 24-14, in 2013.
Cosgrove accomplished a first for Maine football in 2013 as the Black Bears hosted their first ever NCAA FCS playoff game when they took on New Hampshire at Alfond Stadium on Dec. 7. Maine's 2013 season was one of its best in history as it finished 10-3, capturing the CAA title along the way and surpassing several team and individual records. For his guidance and the team's success, Coach Cosgrove was named the CAA Coach of the Year, the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Bowl/Championship Division Head Coach of the Year, the 2013 American Football Coaches Association FCS Region 1 Co-Coach of the Year, the New England Football Writers' Association Jack Grinold New England Coach of the Year and placed third in the Eddie Robinson Award voting which honors the top FCS head coach in the nation.
Cosgrove paced the Black Bears to a 5-6 overall mark in 2012 including impressive wins on the road at Delaware (26-3) and at William & Mary (24-10). Individually, Cosgrove mentored an All-American in Chris Howley along with a trio of All-New England selections to go along with five All-CAA honorees. Away from the field, eight of Cosgrove's student-athletes earned CAA All-Academic nods. Additionally, a pair of Black Bears in Donte Dennis and Darlos James were invited to attend NFL camps.
The 2011 season proved to be one of the best in program history. The Black Bears, picked ninth in the CAA preseason poll, finished the year as CAA Runners-up after going 6-2 in conference play. The team received an NCAA Playoff berth and a First Round bye. In the Second Round, Maine traveled to a very talented Appalachian State squad and won the contest in impressive fashion, 34-12. The team saw a program-record five players earn NFL invitations, including the highest draft pick in Maine Football history (Jerron McMillian - Fourth Round). Maine earned a pair of All-American honors in Trevor Coston and McMillian as well as 13 All-CAA honors. Maine finished as the top-ranked CAA team with a National ranking of #8 for the 2011 campaign as well as finishing as runner-up for the Lambert Trophy.
The 2010 season saw a youthful Black Bears squad take back the Brice-Cowell Musket from No. 14 New Hampshire in dramatic overtime fashion. Maine was competitive in all its games, losing three games by four points or less. The Black Bears had six players earn All-CAA honors, including tight end Derek Buttles, who was also named to the New England Football Writers All-Star Team. In the Spring of 2011, linebacker Mark Masterson signed a free agent deal in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, while wide receiver/defensive end Jeremy Kelley signed with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger Cats.
In 2009, Cosgrove led the Black Bears to the brink of the CAA North Division title, despite having one of the youngest teams in the league. For the third time in four seasons, Maine was playing for the North Division title in the last game of the regular season thanks in part to a win over No. 19 Massachusetts, as well as a tough win at Hofstra. The Black Bears had five players named to All-CAA teams, including Landis Williams who was named to the First Team, while also having five players named to the CAA All-Academic Team. In addition, four out of the eight graduating seniors from the team (Williams, Tyler Eastman, Brandon McLaughlin and Jordan Stevens) would go on to participate in NFL Rookie Mini-Camps, with Eastman and Williams signing free agent contracts with the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, respectively.
The 2008 season will go down as one of the finest seasons in program history. Cosgrove led the Black Bears to an 8-5 record, a berth in the NCAA FCS playoffs and a six-game winning streak during the year that put Maine into position to make the postseason. The winning streak marked just the 15th time in the program’s 117 seasons that Maine put together a winning streak of six games or more. The winning streak featured a pair of road wins over ranked teams. Maine began the winning streak on Oct. 11, with a convincing 27-10 win at No. 20 Delaware. A few weeks later, the Black Bears picked off No. 13 Massachusetts, 21-20, in Amherst. Overall, Maine finished second in the CAA North Division after the league’s preseason poll tabbed them fourth. Several individuals were honored for their play during the season, including Jovan Belcher, who was named the 2008 CAA Football Defensive Player of the Year, and was the league’s lone consensus first-team All-American. He finished second in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, marking the highest finish ever for a Black Bear in a national player-of-the-year vote. Belcher became the fourth player under Cosgrove (all since 2001) to finish as a finalist for a national player-of-the-year award. In addition to Belcher, Jared Turcotte, Jhamal Fluellen and Ryan Canary also garnered All-America honors during the season. Canary was the second Black Bear to garner a major CAA award during 2008, as he was named the league’s Student-Athlete of the Year for combining success not just on the field, but in the classroom. A standout student, Canary was also a semifinalist for the Draddy Trophy, and won the M Club Dean Smith Award for being the top male student-athlete at Maine. In addition to Canary, six other Black Bears were named to the CAA Football All-Academic Team, showing a team-wide goal of being successful in the classroom.
In April of 2009, Belcher and fellow defender Andrew Downey, were signed as rookie free agents by the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions, respectively.
Maine’s 21-17 win at Monmouth on Sept. 6, gave Cosgrove his 81st career win, which moved him into sole possession of first place in program history for career victories.
In 2007, Cosgrove led a young Black Bear squad to a strong finish as it won three of its final four games while compiling a 4-7 record. Maine’s three-game winning streak included a come-from-behind win at Northeastern, a last-second win at home versus Towson, and a convincing shutout victory against Rhode Island. Belcher earned Second-Team All-America honors, marking the 12th All-American to play for Cosgrove. Belcher also earned First-Team All-CAA honors, marking the 13th-straight season a Black Bear had been named to an all-conference first-team. In April of 2008, Matthew Mulligan and Anthony Cotrone signed NFL free agent contracts, as they signed with the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively.
Cosgrove led Maine to a 6-5 record during the 2006 campaign, which was the program’s fourth winning record in a span of six seasons. The Black Bears boasted one of the nation’s top defenses as Maine finished first nationally in rushing defense (63.91 ypg) and second in total defense (229.91). Senior defensive end Matt King was a consensus First-Team All-American and a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented annually to the top FCS defensive player in America. King was the second Black Bear defender in the last five seasons to finish among the top six in the final voting for the prestigious honor. King was joined by seniors Mike DeVito and Manauris Arias on the Atlantic 10 Conference First-Team. Maine finished the regular season ranked No. 24 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 Poll, and at one point was ranked in the top 20 for the first time in two seasons. The Black Bears also had a tremendous year in the classroom as 12 student-athletes were named to the Atlantic 10 Conference All-Academic Team. Senior quarterback Ron Whitcomb was named the 2006 Atlantic 10 Conference Student-Athlete of the Year for his work in the classroom and efforts on the field. Overall, 29 Black Bears earned GPAs of 3.0 or better during the fall semester, and they were honored as Maine Scholar-Athletes, the second highest total for any team on campus.
Cosgrove reached an impressive milestone during the 2005 season, which proved his loyalty to his alma mater. On Nov. 12, in a thrilling 27-24 overtime victory over Rhode Island, Cosgrove took part in his 147th game as a head coach at Maine, moving him into first place in program history for most games as a head coach. Cosgrove turned in one of his strongest coaching performances during the 2005 season, as he guided a young Black Bear squad to a 5-6 record. The young group came of age in the final four games of the season with a 3-1 record after stumbling out to a 2-5 start. Maine won three straight games including Delaware (Oct. 29), at Northeastern (Nov. 5) and Rhode Island (Nov. 12).The spring of 2006 also provided a highlight when wide receiver Kevin McMahan was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 255th pick in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. It marked the first time in Cosgrove’s head coaching tenure, and the first since 1990, that a Black Bear was picked in the annual draft.
Success wasn’t isolated to the playing field, but also in the classroom in 2005, as five Black Bears were named to the Academic All-Atlantic 10 Team.
Cosgrove guided the Black Bears to a 5-6 record during the 2004 season as Maine was in every game right down to the end. Four of Maine’s losses were by seven points or less. The highlight of the season was the Black Bears’ victory over Mississippi State, as Maine held the Bulldogs scoreless for the final three quarters before scoring a late touchdown to pull out the victory. More success from the 2004 season followed in the spring of 2005, as running back Marcus Williams (Indianapolis Colts) and defensive back Brandon McGowan (Chicago Bears) signed as rookie free agents in the NFL. McGowan started three games as a rookie for the Bears in 2005 and was a member of the team’s Super Bowl roster in 2007.
In 2003, Maine complied a 7-5 overall record and a 5-4 mark in the Altantic 10. The Black Bears were led by Whitcomb, then a freshman quarterback, who was named the conference’s rookie of the year. In addition, Williams led the Atlantic 10 with 116.7 yards per game and was second in the conference in total rushing yards. The defense was third in the conference and second in rushing defense.
The Black Bears posted an 11-3 record during 2002, setting a school record for wins along the way. Maine was ranked sixth in the final polls issued by both The Sports Network and USA Today/ESPN and was ranked second in the nation at one point in the season – the highest ranking in program history. Individually, senior linebacker Stephen Cooper was a consensus All-American selection and won the George H. “Bulger” Lowe Award as the top defensive football player in New England. Cooper was also the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Buchanan Award for the second-consecutive season.
In 2001, the Black Bears tied the previous school record for wins (9) when they defeated McNeese State 14-10 in the NCAA I-AA playoffs. Maine advanced to the national quarterfinals for the first time in school history. During the regular season, Cosgrove was honored as co-Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, when he led the Black Bears to a 7-2 league mark and a tie with three other teams at the top of the conference standings. The Black Bears, selected eighth in the preseason Atlantic 10 poll, landed 10th and 12th in the final Sports Network and USA Today/ESPN national polls. Cosgrove was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, presented annually to the nation’s top FCS coach. He was also named the American Football Monthy National Coach of the Year. He also led a team that garnered numerous individual awards. Three members of the 2001 team earned All-America honors, while Cooper was a finalist for the Buchanan Award and received a share of the A-10 Defensive Player-of-the-Year award.
A hint of success in 2001 could be found in the 2000 campaign. Cosgrove guided the Black Bears to a 5-6 record, including wins in three of the last four games. Only two other teams in the Atlantic 10 were as successful over the last month of the season and those teams (Delaware and Richmond) advanced to the NCAA playoffs. Prior to 1999, Cosgrove had put together two .500-plus seasons over three years, a feat that had not been accomplished since the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
Cosgrove also earned Atlantic 10 Coach-of-the-Year honors in 1996 after his team went 7-4.
Along with the program’s successes on the field, Cosgrove has emphasized academics and community service. In 2001, one of his team members, Phil McGeoghan, received the Dean Smith Award which is presented to the athletic department’s top student-athlete. In 2002, one of his senior captains, Malik Nichols, received a senior outstanding achievement award from the campus community. Cosgrove has seen the average GPA of his team improve nearly every year.
Including his undergraduate years and his assistant coaching tenures at Maine, Cosgrove has committed 34 years to one Yankee Conference/Atlantic 10/CAA institution, more than any other current league head coach. His 87 league wins rank fifth all-time; third among current league coaches.
Cosgrove, a former All-Yankee Conference quarterback and the Black Bears’ offensive coordinator from 1989–92, was named the 34th head coach of the Black Bears on Feb. 22, 1993.
Cosgrove has seen a variety of coaching styles, playing under Walter Abbott and Jack Bicknell at Maine, and serving as an assistant coach for Bicknell, both at Maine and at Boston College. Cosgrove has also coached under Tim Murphy, Tom Lichtenberg and Kirk Ferentz.
A 1978 graduate of Maine, Cosgrove was a two-time second-team All-Yankee Conference quarterback and an ECAC All-Star for the Black Bears. He still ranks as the eighth all-time leading passer in Maine football history with 2,836 career yards.
In 1974, his rookie campaign at Maine, Cosgrove passed for 517 yards and rushed for another 558 yards, while leading the Black Bears to their first Yankee Conference Championship in nine years. In 1976, he guided Maine to a 6‑5 record and the school’s first winning season since 1969.
Upon graduation from Maine, Cosgrove was a graduate assistant coach with the Black Bears from 1978–80 under Bicknell. He received his master’s in educational administration from Maine in 1981. Cosgrove then became the head football coach at Stoughton High School (Mass.), where he also taught American history, from 1981–84. Cosgrove is a Sharon, Mass., native and graduated from Sharon High School.
In 1985, he became an offensive assistant at Boston College, assisting with the quarterbacks and working with the wide receivers. In 1986, he helped direct the Eagles to a 9‑3 record and a victory in the Hall of Fame Bowl.
He returned to Maine in 1987 as the quarterbacks and receivers coach for Murphy. His coaching helped develop Mike Buck, the Maine career passing leader, who led the Black Bears to their first NCAA Division I‑AA playoff appearance in 1987. In 1988, he was promoted to pass game coordinator and directed the Yankee Conference’s top passing offense.
In 1989, he was promoted to offensive coordinator by first-year head coach Tom Lichtenberg. Cosgrove coached the Yankee Conference’s top offensive team, as the Black Bears averaged over 440 yards a game in total offense en route to a school-record nine wins, the Yankee Conference championship, and the school’s second NCAA tournament appearance in three years. From 1990–92, he continued to serve as the top offensive assistant under Ferentz.
He and his wife, Marilyn, live in Bangor. Cosgrove and his wife are the proud parents of twins Matthew and Carly, 20; and daughter, Sydni, 17. Matthew currently attends the University of Maine and plays football for the Black Bears. They have an older daughter, Jeri, who is 23 and a recent University of Maine grad.