Should GSU play FBS football?
Last comment by Scott Garner 5 years, 1 month ago.

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Should GSU play at the FBS level?

Let me begin by saying that I came to Statesboro in August of 1985 , thanks to the United States Army, to teach future leaders of the Army, in the Senior ROTC Program at Georgia Southern College. It was electric that Summer and into Fall because of the football program starting to play 1AA level competition (FCS). I met Erk Russell in the Hanner field house weight room early one morning. He poked his head in the room at 6:00am to say “hi “ to the cadets working out. Erk always had time for people, and he was a walking textbook on leadership. Dale Lick was the President of the college, a visionary man who loved the college, community, and he too always had time for others. I caught the fever of football too, as so many in Statesboro had. Tracy Ham and the “Triple Option” was the most exciting football I had ever watched.

The Eagles played as an independent for the first six years. I went to the Florida State game, a game GSU almost won. They played several other 1A (FBS) teams during those early years and were always competitive. But GSU has never beaten a 1A (FBS) team. The Eagles vaulted to the top of 1AA (FCS) competition wining National Championships in 1985 and 1986. The Eagles quickly became the Alabama in the FCS level competition and were invited by the strongest league The Southern Conference to join. The Eagles earned their way into the conference.

I would prefer that they not go to the FBS level, but fear that that decision has already been made. I believe that GSU should make the move up to FBS as an independent like they did in 1985. Play Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, Clemson, South Carolina and other big schools in the Southeast as their away games. Play Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, South Florida, Troy State, Marshall, Arkansas State and other 1A schools in the Southeast that would be willing to come to Paulson Stadium to play the Eagles. Remain an independent until an ACC, Big East, or even the SEC Conference invites GSU to join.

A schedule like this will expand the fan base willing to pay the much higher prices if they can go to the ACC and SEC away games. And above all, never change the uniform and always play the “Triple Option”.
Go Eagles!

Latest Activity: Dec 28, 2012 at 10:08 AM

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gawalkman commented on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 10:27 AM


I hear what you are saying. However, there are many teams in the FBS we could beat because they are way down on the totem pole. Some of those teams would be willing to travel to beautiful Statesboro.

We had a similar situation in the early 80's before we won our first championship. Some of the teams we played then are currently in the FBS while we continue down the same old road we have been on for decades.

Today an island. Tomorrow an empire.

gawalkman commented on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Remember the Hugo Bowl? I don't know of any team crazy enough to play in that weather, but our strength and determination was too much for Middle Tennessee State that night. Middle Tennessee defeated Georgia Tech earlier this year. Middle Tennessee State is an FBS school.

Scott Garner commented on Friday, Jan 04, 2013 at 20:35 PM

Hi Ironsides.

As you may or may not know, I was the sports editor of the Statesboro Herald for several years, and near the end of my tenure we did a series of articles about whether GSU should stay in I-AA or make a move to I-A. Then, as now, it was a divisive issue. After running what was, if memory serves me, a five-part article, we took the editorial stance that the Eagles should stay at the I-AA level but prepare to move up through facilities expansion and fundraising. Our advice turned out to be prescient.

Even waaay back in 2004, conference commissioners and others "in the know" were telling me how college football was moving slowly (but inexorably) toward a new model. The model would be several super-conferences containing 60-80 of the traditional college football powers. Those conferences would essentially be able to make the rules for scheduling, the postseason and everything else. In effect, the super-conferences would usurp the power of the NCAA in many matters.

What such a configuration would mean to Georgia Southern was clear to me at the time. If super-conferences started to emerge, Georgia Southern would need to move up--not to join the biggest and meanest of football powers but to remain where they should always be: in college football's second tier.

It seems like the move to big, comprehensive conferences is afoot, which I'm sure you've noted if you follow college football even passively.

Moving to FBS now seems like an extreme step. But I truly believe that in 10 years, the Eagles will be be closer to where they were in 1989 than where they were in 2012. Their peer group in college football's "new" second tier will have some old familiar foes like Troy, Middle Tennessee and Marshall while playing Georgia, LSU and Bama will still be stepping up for a big exposure and a nice payday. In short, I think a move now is really beneficial for the Eagles in the longview.

Others disagree with me, including some folks I think are very knowledgeable and intelligent. But they're wrong (wink, wink).

Ironside commented on Saturday, Jan 05, 2013 at 19:39 PM

Scott: You are right about the Super-conferences. Taxas AM joining the SEC, changes in the Big East and Big Ten are already happening. I see the playoff system going to the 1AA playoff system with 20 teams. I believe in 10 years that will be the system. A couple of second tier teams would round out the 20 teams playing for the national championship. GSU would be playing for one of those last two picks. The question, I guess, is on the issue of trying to join a conference with second tier schools or try to do it as an independent for a few years. I believe if they can get five or six away games with SEC/ ACC/ Big East ect. teams each year they should play as an Independent. Your thoughts.

Scott Garner commented on Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 23:18 PM

Ironside, sorry to take so long to give "thoughts."

I wouldn't be surprised to see the "Super Conferences" draw a line between its membership and the rest of Division I when it comes to the playoff system. Whether it expands to eight, 12 or 16 teams, the primary goal of a confederacy of super conferences will be to keep the football revenue pool limited to a select number of member institutions. This prediction comes from a lot of conversations over the years with folks familiar with what is going on inside the BCS conferences. Many of the predictions I heard made in 2004 have already come to pass.

Georgia Southern has to be proactive until this upheaval dies down. I honestly think Georgia Southern should be competing to be the best team at college football's second tier. But the line between the first tier and second is moving. If the Eagles want to be on the right side of it, they need to be smart, proactive and a little bit lucky.

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