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Georgia Southern Football Has No Need to Play Georgia State

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Recently my colleague, Georgia State blogger Ben Moore, trolled wrote an article insinuating that Georgia Southern was "afraid to schedule" Georgia State.  There are plenty of legitimate reasons for the Eagles not wanting to schedule State.  For some reason, I don't think fear played any part in the decision.

1) No Scheduling Benefit - Georgia Southern plays in the SoCon, one of the most difficult conferences in FCS, and already has fierce rivalries with Appalachian State, Furman, and Wofford.  The unwritten rule for making the playoffs is 7 Division I wins.  Since the goal of every season is making the playoffs and winning a National Championship, scheduling should reflect that.  With 8 conference games and one FBS money game, that only leaves 2 out-of-conference games.  These should be winnable home games - no exceptions.  In 2011, these slots are filled by Presbyterian and Coastal Carolina Tusculum.

If scheduling is done properly, there is very little reason for Georgia Southern to ever travel to an out-of-conference FCS game.  As one of the pre-eminent programs in FCS, Georgia Southern gets to be very picky in who and where they play.  When the Eagles were a startup in 1982, they played "anyone, anywhere" just like State.  Those days are over.  Now the Eagles play "anyone, anywhere" as long as it benefits them.  This is smart scheduling, and it's why teams like App State and Delaware are always in the playoffs, and teams like Alabama and Virginia Tech are always in the BCS Bowl games.

2) No Monetary Benefit - Georgia Southern never sells out Paulson Stadium because there are plenty of grass seats.  However, stadium capacity is officially 14,000, and the Eagles averaged over 20,000 in the 2010 regular season.  They have no need for Georgia State to bring 3,000 people (and that's being incredibly generous) to Statesboro.  They're doing quite well as it is, thanks very much.

On the other hand, Georgia State would definitely like for Georgia Southern to make a trip to the Dome, mainly because the Panthers Athletic Department would benefit greatly when Eagle fans outnumber Panther fans.  Unfortunately for State, they have not earned a home game against Georgia Southern.  Would you expect Florida State to travel to Florida International?  The same logic applies here.  Maybe in a few years, after they've played a full CAA schedule and notched a few more wins, they can ask for a 2-for-1.  If you're unfamiliar with the term, that's two games in Statesboro and one game in Atlanta.  However, I'd wager that once the Panthers sink their teeth into a full CAA schedule, they'll forget all about Georgia Southern, and start begging for those same two easy wins that everybody else shoots for.

3) No Recruiting Benefit - In the last recruiting cycle, Georgia Southern pulled in quite a few 3-star recruits.  Georgia State signed one 2-star (a kicker).  The Eagles did much of their recruiting early in the year, before the season ever started, and sealed the deal with a wild playoff ride, culminating in a trip to the NCAA Semifinals on ESPN2.

Georgia State did some recruiting on ESPNU.  It didn't go so well.

In 2011, the state of Georgia produced 185 Division I recruits.  There are plenty to go around, and Georgia Southern will continue to get their share of quality players.  Dumping a bag of championship rings on the recruit's kitchen table does wonders.

4) No Prestige Benefit - With a 6-5 all-time record, and only 3 wins against full D1 members (Morehead State, Savannah State, and NC Central), Georgia State has everything to gain and nothing to lose in a game against the Eagles.  Georgia Southern, however, has everything to lose and nothing to gain by beating a team with as many wins as Southern has National Championships.

The Simple Solution

If Georgia State wants this game so bad, the Panthers just need to make the playoffs in 2012, their first year of eligibility.  Georgia Southern will be there.  THAT is how rivalries are started.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.