By ANDY WOLF
As a football coach, the last thing Rob Keys does is look at the schedule.
But he did look at it.
He does know it. He saw it when it came out.
“You pretty much throw it away and focus on that one game,” the seventh-year University of Findlay coach said.
Right now the Oilers are only focused on their Week 1 opponent in Tiffin with kickoff set for 7 p.m. tonight at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.
Keys admits it’s more than just a cliche in regards to taking it “one game at a time.”
“Any opponent can beat you on any Saturday, or on any Thursday for that matter,” Keys said. “It’s so much more driven to the process of getting better daily that the schedule really doesn’t come in play until that next opponent shows up.”
Two Thursday games, a rare Friday night showing and the usual Saturday afternoon (five) or night (two) contests make up UF’s 11-game slate.
Seven of those are league games will be as a new member of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Because of the change, the Oilers will play three schools for the very first time in William Jewell College, Tuskegee and Alderson Broaddus (GMAC).
Four nonconference games right off the bat nearly equals the five total nonleague games the Oilers have played in the Keys era, going 4-1
After tangling with Tiffin, UF gets another old Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe in Ferris State — the preseason No. 3 team in the NCAA Division II coaches poll.
The Bulldogs are 23-4 over the last two seasons with two three-point wins over the Oilers.
The only reason UF is playing William Jewell College in Week 3 is because the closure of St. Joseph’s College (Indiana) at the end of last school year left an open spot.
And Keys would “much rather” play 11 games than 10.
“We called William Jewell and said ‘I see you need a game. Are you interested?” Keys said.
Findlay hosts Tuskegee (Alabama), another playoff team, the following week.
Another first for the Oilers will be playing on a Friday under Keys when Kentucky Wesleyan comes to town in Week 8.
“That was an administrative decision and I guess we’re going to see how well it plays out once the season ends,” Keys said. “I don’t have an opinion on it yet. After it plays out I’ll definitely have an opinion on how I feel about Friday games.”
Keys is also taking a “wait-and-see” approach in how the GMAC will take shape in comparison to the GLIAC.
Ohio Dominican, Hillsdale, Walsh and Lake Erie also made the jump with Findlay, as well as Malone two years ago.
Only Kentucky Wesleyan and Alderson Broaddus (Week 10) have been in the league longer.
“It’s a shame because (the GLIAC) was truly a very, very difficult conference from top to bottom,” Keys said. “Moving forward, I think both leagues will redefine themselves and eventually state their claim on how good of a conference they are because neither conference, the way it exists today, has a leg to stand on right now because it’s all new.”
Ashland, which is no longer on the schedule, is the only Ohio school staying in the GLIAC for now as Tiffin will jump to the GMAC in the 2018 season.
The Eagles and the Oilers had met every year for the past 19 seasons.
“It is odd. It’s a really good game,” Keys said. “They’re an awesome opponent. You look forward to playing a team like Ashland. It’s an in-state rivalry. We recruit a lot of the same kids. I would hope at some point that the game is played again.”
Findlay closes its season at Ohio Dominican — the preseason pick to win the league.
Thu. 31 at Tiffin 7:00 PM
Sat. 9 Ferris St. 7:00 PM
Sat. 16 at William Jewell College 12:00 PM
Sat. 23 Tuskegee 1:00 PM
Sat. 30 at Walsh * 1:00 PM
Sat. 7 Lake Erie * 7:00 PM
Sat. 14 at Hillsdale * 1:00 PM
Fri. 20 Ky. Wesleyan * 7:00 PM
Thu. 26 at Malone * 7:00 PM
Sat. 4 Alderson Broaddus * 1:00 PM
Sat. 11 at Ohio Dominican* 12:00 PM
*Denotes league game