BREAKING: Rick Finotti resigns as head coach of JCU Football


JCU Sports Information Department

John Carroll Head Coach Rick Finotti announced his resignation on Monday, March 14.

Anna Meyer, Sports Editor

On Monday morning, the John Carroll University Football program learned that head coach Rick Finotti is resigning. 

According to John Carroll Athletics, his resignation will be effective on March 25, and Finotti will pursue a career outside of football.

For the 2022 season, John Carroll’s Offensive Coordinator Drew Nystrom will serve as the interim head coach.

“I don’t know if there is a scale high enough that captures how excited I am for this opportunity,” said Nystrom to The Carroll News. “When you think about all of the great players and coaches who have come here before and the foundation that Rick [Finotti] has put in place with the quality of young people on campus, it is hard to put into words the level of excitement and the level of honor to have the trust of the administration including Michelle [Morgan] and Dr. Miciak.”

John Carroll’s interim head coach Drew Nystrom during the 2021 season. (JCU Sports Information Department)

Finotti’s decision came as a surprise to both the team and coaching staff. 

“It is an initial shock, there is no question about it, the staff would be in that as well,” said Nystrom. “What Coach Finotti did such a good job in his career is building those relationships with players, mainly because he is one of the most empathetic people I have ever met. He is a true man of character and has done that with his players. It is going to be tough for a lot of them.”

During Finotti’s five years with the Blue and Gold, he led John Carroll to a stellar 33-11 record and 31-8 Ohio Athletic Conference record. John Carroll also played in the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs during 2018. 

Finotti’s path to John Carroll began in Northeastern Ohio, where he coached for six seasons at St. Edward High School, posting a 62-15 record and winning two Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I State Championships. 

In 2015, Finotti joined the coaching staff at the University of Michigan, serving as Director of Football Operations under Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.

Finotti didn’t stay for long in the Wolverine State as he returned home to the Buckeye State, becoming the 18th head coach for the John Carroll program in 2017.

JCU’s Head Coach Rick Finotti coaching in his final game with the Blue Streaks against Baldwin Wallace on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (Tim Phillis)

In Finotti’s final game with the Blue Streaks on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, he led the team to one of the most legendary comebacks in the program’s history. 

Despite being down by 18 points with less than 12 minutes left in the game, John Carroll’s last-minute touchdown from Joey Torok ‘23 earned Finotti his fifth and final victory over Baldwin Wallace, 29-28.

For the 2022 season, Nystrom hopes to build on the John Carroll Football legacy that Finotti and other previous legends have built. 

“Our goals are still the same,” said Nystrom. “We want to continue to compete. To me success is in your everyday interactions. Your wins and losses are a result of your everyday interactions. I want our players to compete to be the best every single day and to get our players to meet and exceed their own expectations of themselves. I want to continue to build “champions in life.” I want our guys to carry themselves as champions 24/7 both on and off the field.”

With over a decade of experience at the NCAA Division III level, Nystrom’s previous experiences such as being the assistant head coach at the University of Dubuque and his past three seasons at John Carroll makes him well-prepared for his new role.

“Everywhere I have been and coached there are pieces I take with me ….,” said Nystrom. “At the DIII level, there is a commitment to the student athletes and it is more so than at the over levels because these guys have lives outside of football. They are involved in Student Government, economics club, and different things on campus. Being aware of the academic rigor at John Carroll and knowing the challenges it creates for our student athletes and being cognizant of that and making them be the best on the field as well as the best in the classroom and socially, is what makes John Carroll great.”

Nystrom’s time as interim head coach will be a special one, as he will lead the team in the program’s 100th season.

“What makes John Carroll great in the time that I have been on campus is the players and the Jesuit mission, which all remains the same,” said Nystrom. “We are going to continue to work hard and build relationships amongst the staff and the team, ultimately that is what makes this place special.”

According to Nystrom, the football team will still begin spring ball next week. 

“We will be ready to go. One of the benefits is we will be keeping a lot of ths staff together, so that is part of the continuity in the staffing. Coach Finotti did an incredible job hiring great people that are great football minds so we will be ready heading into spring ball. We might take things slow schematically early on,  but getting our guys out running around together and continuing to face challenges together which makes this sport so special.”

A release from John Carroll Athletics stated that later this year, the University will conduct a national search for John Carroll’s next permanent head coach.