The Mercer Bears voted Friday to join the Georgia St. Panthers and Kennesaw St. Owls in starting up a metro Atlanta football program. They expect to play their first game in 2013. The Bears are unique, however, in that they already have a rich football history, boasting one of the Southeast's oldest football traditions. In 1892 they debuted against the Georgia Bulldogs, and they were the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets first opponent. The program was put on hold during World War II, and never started back up.
Mercer's currently on a losing streak, having dropped a tough contest against the Chattanooga Mocs in 1941, but the school announced today on 790 The Zone that they'll begin looking for a new head coach to turn things around soon.
The Bears will form a bridge between the classic and brand new in Peach State college football. Besides their ancient rivalries with Georgia and Tech, they and KSU have a decent little rivalry in basketball and other sports, busing to road games and handing out BEAT ___ shirts and so forth. The two schools are almost certain to play each other in football once KSU starts up a year later.
With three FCS programs near the metro area, plus the Georgia Southern Eagles and Savannah St. Tigers elsewhere in the state, fewer and fewer local recruits are going to leave Georgia to play football elsewhere. State and KSU have both declared eventual FBS intentions -- with all this sudden competition in the area, it seems more and more likely that one of these schools might wind up with a chance to play on the highest level. And Mercer, for one, has already been there.