MIAA entry a break for FU

Gaining entrance into the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association figures to be a big break for Finlandia University football.

The university’s officials found out recently that the school will be eligible to compete in football in 2018 in the oldest athletic conference going.

The Lions, because of a lack of conference, have been quite simply overmatched in their first two seasons on the gridiron.

But that can easily happen when you’re playing such powerhouses as UW-Whitewater and UW-Stevens Point.

UW-Whitewater, who the Lions played in their first season, is a Division III powerhouse with six national titles to its credit. 

UW-Stevens Point isn’t far behind the Warhawks and made the semifinals of the Division III playoffs last fall.

You have to remember the UW university extension schools are all big schools, larger than Michigan Tech in most cases. Stevens Point and Whitewater both have enrollments exceeding 12,000 students.

When the other team takes the field with more than 95 players (compared to FU’s 40 or so) you know the results aren’t going to be pretty.

The MIAA members of Alma, Albion, Adrian, Olivet, Trine, Hope and Kalamazoo are much closer in size to Finlandia.

In the beginning, Lions head coach Tim Driscoll said he hoped to field a team consisting of at least 50 percent Upper Peninsula natives.

And while he has accomplished that for the most part, Driscoll was aware he would have to find players from other parts of Michigan — and elsewhere — to field a competitive team.

Some of the outside recruits have worked out for FU. Some have not, with sometimes unfavorable results. But we won’t dwell on that today.

Finlandia now has a better chance to find players in lower Michigan, considering that all of the teams in the MIAA are located south of the Mackinac Bridge.

And FU will be in a well-established league — one that will now have all of the Division III football members in the state together.

Driscoll has done a commendable job, given what he has had to work with. In the future, the prospects for success now look brighter.