By BRIAN LESTER
It wasn’t long ago that the University of Findlay football team was 1-10 and seemingly going nowhere fast.
But here are the Oilers two years later, on the verge of playing their final game of the 2012 season and sealing the deal on a 7-3 campaign.
A 7-3 record won’t turn any heads. It’s not good enough to win a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and it’s not good enough to secure a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
But 7-3 is a big deal for the Oilers when you consider where they started. Rob Keys inherited a mess when he was hired in December of 2010. It’s different now. The level of play has been raised as have the expectations.
If UF beats Walsh on Saturday afternoon in the season finale at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, the Oilers will tie for no worse than third place in the GLIAC, which is impressive in a conference that is arguably the most competitive in the nation.
The finish sets the stage for even more success next year. It gives the Oilers a sign that they are headed in the right direction and it gives them hope that they can build on a 7-3 record, much the way the 6-5 campaign of 2011 helped lay the foundation for success this season.
A 7-3 record also makes a difference when it comes to recruiting. Keys and his coaching staff have done a great job of blanketing the state and finding players capable of making a difference at this level.
Now, they can sell a 7-3 season to recruits. They can sell the idea that UF is one step closer to being a regular contender in the GLIAC and that the best years of the program are ahead.
And for the seniors, this is their chance to go out with one more win and a chance to take pride in the fact that they left the program in much better shape than it was when they started here.
They won’t have a chance to be a part of the continued rise of the program on the field but they will be able to look back one day and realize they played a part in getting the program on the right track.
All of us have to understand that the Oilers have a long climb ahead to where they want to be. No championship program was ever built in one or two years. But 7-3 serves as a nice building block and it puts the Oilers one step closer to achieving all of their goals.
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