A promise worth keeping/Paul Peterson

In all honesty, it was a promise I felt would never have to keep.

Finlandia University Athletic Director Chris Salani and I were talking about the possibility of a football program at the school a few years ago.

“You have a student body that is 60 percent girls,” I pointed out. “It’s going to be very difficult to find enough players to fill out a (70-member) roster.”

Salani insisted it was a possibility, but I remained skeptical. If the Lions ever played a game at McAfee Field, I promised I would be there for the first game in one capacity or another.

Just this past week, Salani announced that a target date of the 2015 football season has been approved by the university. A search for a head coach will begin immediately.

I salute the university for taking the action, but still remain a bit doubtful it can accomplished in two years.

The first coach will have to start searching for players immediately if the program is to get started in 2015.

Now, it isn’t that there aren’t some good grid prospects in the Upper Peninsula. Just ask the Detroit school that was beaten the last two seasons in the state finals by Ishpeming.

And Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan University have done reasonably well with U.P. talent for some time.

But any new FU coach will undoubtedly have to venture into surrounding states like Wisconsin and Minnesota to bring enough talent in. Not to mention that other state … the Lower Peninsula.

One positive going for future Lions football fortunes – and it’s a big one – is the fact they have a top-rate facility already in place in McAfee Field.

McAfee is as good as any field that Finlandia will find in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, a respected Division III league.

Salani said FU will apply for membership in the UMAC as part of incorporating football. That would help immensely with scheduling in sports like basketball, baseball, soccer, cross country, etc.

FU teams already play UMAC schools like Northland College, Crown College, St. Scholastica, etc. in basketball.

Under Salani’s guidance, Finlandia has added more sports programs than I ever believed possible (remember, I’m a Suomi College alum). I can remember when old Nikander Hall was used for men’s basketball.

But if the man upstairs cooperates and the river doesn’t rise, I’m planning on being there when the Lions play a home football game in 2015.