A Well-Oiled Machine Past & Present


Findlay Football is a “well-oiled machine” according to Pat Gibson ’82, part of the 1979 then Findlay College football team that brought home the National Championship that year.

Gibson grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and started playing football when he was in the ninth grade. Gibson was recruited by head coach, Dick Strahm, to play for Findlay in the mid 70s. He was drawn to Findlay not only for the football, but also for the Mathematics Program and the family-like atmosphere. During his first season on the team, a fellow player was hurt which led to Gibson being chosen as a starter for the team and he never looked back. Throughout his years playing Findlay football, Gibson stated, “The team just had such great camaraderie; we just fought through many things together to form a tight bond.”

According to Gibson, “Something that we’ve always had on our football team was a great defense and an offense that was dominating and just stayed out on the field for a long time, just wearing down our opponents.” In fact, Findlay’s offensive line was once referred to as “the wrecking crew.” During his junior year in 1978, with the guidance of six leading seniors, the team made it to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Championship but ended up losing 7-0. The following year, the team made it to the NAIA National Championship again and “we weren’t going to lose it this time,” said Gibson. 

This ended up being the case, as the team won. Many players went on to coach and referee, and, as a team, Gibson said they have done some really great things. In addition, the 1979 Findlay football team was enshrined into the University Athletic Department’s Football Hall of Fame in 2018. “We wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without the seniors from the 1978 team; their leadership was such a large contribution to where we ended up as National Champions,” Gibson stated. “Our team did have some traditions, but those aren’t the type of things that stuck with me. Really what stuck is the family we created with the other players on the team. We just had so many great players and now are good friends for life.” 

Gibson graduated in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in both mathematics and computer science and has remained in the Findlay area ever since. Professionally, Gibson spent many years working at Solomon Cloud Solutions and now works at Marathon Petroleum Corporation. “The small-town environment is such a great place compared to a big city. This is an unbelievable place to raise a family – I just enjoy being here.”

Michael Jerrell ’22

Findlay Football continues to be a “well-oiled machine” even today. Michael Jerrell ‘22 and the 2021 University of Findlay football team won the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) title last fall and have hopes of continued success this season.  

Jerrell graduated in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, management emphasis, and a marketing minor. He is currently continuing his education with University of Findlay to earn his MBA and hopes to pursue a career in professional football. Originally from Indianapolis, IN, Jerrell was drawn to UF because “the football coaches gave me a family vibe, and made me feel comfortable. They believed in me and had a vision for me,” he said. “Being from a big city, I wanted to get away from that and I liked the idea of coming to a place where I could focus.” 

“It’s been a journey – it’s been a good journey,” said Jerrell as he described his time at Findlay. He noticed that all his professors and coaches seem to love their jobs and love helping students. “They have all really shaped me into the person I am today and have pointed me in a good direction.”  

At the University, many traditions have become so well established that they shape the very culture of campus. “When I committed to play football at UF, I noticed the culture of we’re going to work hard, we’re going to be gritty, and we’re going to get after it,” he said. This frame-of-mind has carried on from class to class, leading to many successes along the way. “I think the culture Findlay has created is so important. First, you have to have great leaders to establish tradition and then you have to have a great group to continue on that tradition year after year, and UF has that,” said Jerrell. 

Moving Forward 

Since the beginning, Findlay’s academics and athletics programs have paved the way for Oilers across the country, and continues to do so. Whether it’s getting students and players out of their comfort zone and helping them become leaders, or just creating a positive environment for them to grow, the University of Findlay has, and will continue to, equip students for meaningful lives and productive careers.