Driscoll getting word out about Finlandia

KINGSFORD – Tim Driscoll has undertaken the enormous task of building a college football program.

“I have to take it day by day,” Finlandia University’s head coach said this week from the Dickinson Area Football Fundamentals & Skills Camp. “Recruiting has been huge for us the for the last two months. We have to work with the NCAA on what we can exactly do with our first class.”

Finlandia football has been in the hopper since 2009. The Hancock school announced in March of this year that football was a go and named Driscoll as head coach a month later.

“I know if I keep working hard, keep it on the right path, we’re going to end up being successful,” Driscoll said. “That first year we may be playing with freshmen, but we’re going to do things right.”

The Lions, in NCAA Division III, won’t play their first game until 2015. Recruiting has already begun with 15 to 20 student-athletes expected this fall.

“It’s a building process and it’s exciting,” Driscoll said. “We’re going to bring in the leaders of our team. These guys will get on campus and understand our philosophy.

“They’ll learn the offense, learn the defense. They’ll be well versed.”

Driscoll and his soon-to-be named coaching staff will be hitting the recruiting trail hard this fall. They should be common sights at U.P. high school football games.

“I really see this program as a great opportunity for U.P. kids,” Driscoll said. “I anticipate getting as many U.P. kids as we can.”

Driscoll figures a four-hour radius from Hancock will comprise the bulk of the roster.

“Then we’ll bring in some national recruits just because we need the large numbers,” Driscoll said. “If a kid really wants to play college football, we’ll give him an opportunity to play.”

Driscoll anticipates a minimum roster of 70 players for the 2015 season.

He has found an offensive coordinator, with U.P. ties, but won’t be able to announce his name just yet. The Lions will add two more full-time assistants Jan. 1. Grad assistants will be added next July.

The son of Northern Michigan University Hall of Famer Jim Driscoll expects to oversee the defense in his head coaching role.

Finlandia did fill one football staff position with Phil Milbrath, a former Norway High School and Michigan Tech star. Milbrath, named Finlandia’s director of football operations, is presently completing his master’s degree at Tech.

“Phil has been a great addition,” said Driscoll, a former MTU defensive coordinator.

The Lions will play their homes games at remodeled McAfee Field in Hancock.

“It’s nice to take steps and see the program grow,” Driscoll said.