So why is a six-time FCS national champion scared to schedule a program who has played a total of 11 games and won 6 of them? The reasons may or may not suprise you.
The AJC's Ken Sugiura mentioned today in his Georgia State blog that:
The school is working for a game with Georgia Southern, but I don’t think anything will happen anytime soon. Levick said that president Mark Becker has talked with Georgia Southern president Brooks Keel about it and that she has done some "gentle calling to see if there’s any interest at all."
Levick acknowledged that Georgia Southern is scheduled out, so it’d likely take some re-arranging, but said "I just think that the state of Georgia would love to see it."
So Georgia State wants a game (or two, as a home and home would make financial sense for both school). Georgia Southern does not. It's that simple. Why?
I love Ken and his coverage is outstanding but it's not a lose, lose for Southern. They'd be guarenteed a sellout and would play in as charged an atmosphere in the Georgia Dome as they've ever seen. I'm sorry there's no true hate between a Southern fan and the fightin' Terriers of Wofford or Samford or any of their other Southern conference foes.
Georgia Southern touts a trip to the FCS playoffs in 2010, and they should. They almost had a shot to win their seventh title. Almost. Well, Georgia State almost beat nationally ranked Jacksonville State in it's 3rd ever game. They don't print T-shirts that say "Almost." They don't hang banners that say "Almost."
There are three main reasons why I believe that Southern administrators and coaching staff are flat out scared:
1. Recruiting - Georgia State has signed a total of nine players (six on the current roster) from formerly Georgia Southern fertile recruiting grounds in the last three recruiting cycles.
LB Jarrell Robinson
DT Sherroud Loud (who didn't qualify academically and is now in the Army)
OL Jon Sauls
CB KJ Morton (currently at a JUCO and has signed with Baylor for 2011)
LB Allen McKay
KR Darren McCray
DL Demetrious Shorter
LB Justin Orr (didn't qualify)
LB Qwontez Mallory (prepped at Doughtery HS, then went to Georgia Military College)
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Coach Bill Curry has hit more high schools than ever before and Rivals.com is reporting that the Panthers have already contacted two prospects from Middle Georgia and lower South Carolina -- and it's spring. Wait until the Panthers graduate 22 players in 2011 and have even more scholarships to offer. Would you rather grow a plant or would you rather graduate from one of the most respected business schools in the southeast? Would you rather play in a cow pasture or would you rather play in the home of the Atlanta Falcons and the home of a Super Bowl?
2. Budget Concerns - It's easy serving as the University of Georgia's step child and getting a game once every couple years. It's a whole other issue when you get paid one-third of what the market rate is because your athletic director can't ask for bigger money. How does it look to your boosters when you run from opponents? I'm not talking about FBS opponents like Navy (which doesn't award athletic scholarships) or Alabama (who may score more in 2011 than they did on Georgia State in 2010). Those games balance the budget, but then again, apparently Georgia Southern's athletic department doesn't care about that as they actually forgot to file a piece of paperwork that caused them to miss a home FCS playoff game.
3. Reputation - If you talk to a Georgia Southern fan for any amount of time they will most certainly mention Erk Russell, their legendary architect. Since Erk, they've had Paul Johnson, who brought titles home to Statesboro. Since Johnson left for Navy, the titles have gone away and they have largely become irrelevant in the local and national scene. Now they are becoming irrevelant in their own state. Georgia State opened their program with higher profile head coach and coaching staff and have already won recruiting battles in typical Georgia Southern areas. Kennessaw State begins football in 2013, and the Eagles realize their grip is slipping.
Before the Panthers began, Southern was the third banana behind Georgia and Georgia Tech, and they were okay with that. Now, Georgia State plays in the Georgia Dome and has a student populous that is projected to reach 40,000 by the end of 2015 and has people in place who are now serious about athletics.
The Long and Short of It: Georgia Southern is absolutely terrified to put Georgia State on its football schedule. Make whatever excuses you want, but the fans want it, the boosters will want it to happen and the state of Georgia needs it. Man up Fake GSU -- if not, the Panthers will equal you, pass you, and put you back in the creek.