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My Take - Flip the calendar, Eagle Nationers

Hard to believe, isn’t it?
    Maybe it’s just me, but 2010 seemed to go by all too fast. The calendar year had exactly as many days as the last one, but for some reason, to me anyway, it just flew by. Am I alone here, Eagle Nation?
    Maybe it’s Jeff Monken’s fault. When you have an extra four weeks tacked on to the end of a football season that was supposed to be over after a loss to Samford made the Eagles 4-4, I suppose time passes a little faster.
    Playoff runs do tend to make you forget it’s already basketball season in November (coaches Cram and CY – I’m just kidding).
    At any rate, 2010 has come and gone, and the football season certainly provided the Eagle Nation with some memories.
    The year, though national-championshipless, was certainly one for the ages. But all of you know what happened on the field, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite moments from the past year. Post-practice gab sessions with coaches and players are often fodder for a fun exchange or two, even if they never reach print.
    One such interview happened the Monday after the Samford loss.
    A fellow journalist — I’ll leave out the name because I’m classy like that — asked Monken how he rallies his team during a “losing streak like this.”
    The Eagles had defeated The Citadel 20-0 the week prior to the Samford game, so Monken, with a slightly confused look on his face, responded with a quip that went something like, “Well, it’s only a one-game losing streak.”
    Considering that The Citadel turned over the ball nine times and only crossed the 50 twice in the win, we all agreed it didn’t count.
    Heck, Western Carolina would’ve beat the Bulldogs that day.
    Wait, Western Carolina did beat the Bulldogs.
    Anyway, later in the season after GSU unveiled a new formation in which one slotback remained in place while another – J.J. Wilcox – lined up where one of the tailbacks in the wishbone formation would go, another response made me chuckle. I decided to ask an assistant coach about the new look. I had to. A lead blocker? In the Hambone?
    The assistant, who will also remain nameless because the mention of it made him very nervous, explained why they were doing it, but wouldn’t take any credit for it. In fact, he wouldn’t even say who came up with it.
    When I asked him why, he replied, in reference to the Paul Johnson coaching tree, “A lead blocker? If they find out they’ll kick us out of the option cult.”
    After the Georgia/Georgia Tech game, I don’t think that particular assistant has to worry about getting his “Hambone Option Card” revoked. Johnson’s Jackets actually came out – albeit only once – in (gasp) shotgun.
    The Eagles actually fixed the “broken wishbone” against Delaware in the semifinals when they ran a considerable number of option plays out of the true wishbone. Crazy.
    Another moment I’ll mention is one about which people still ask me, “Did he really say that?”
    After Bobby Lamb resigned from Furman and coached his last game as a Paladin against the Eagles, he was quoted saying, “This will probably be the worst Georgia Southern team you’ll see in the next five or 10 years. I don’t mean that in a bad way. They’re just going to continue to get better and better and better.”
    To answer the question, yes, he did say it. And he sure looked like he meant it. In fact, he looked relieved that he didn’t have to coach against it again.
    I should add for the record that I like Bobby Lamb. I know, I know, him and Georgia Southern fans go together like tuna fish and peanut butter, but off the field, the guy’s a class act, and I’d wager that he’s not done coaching just yet.
    The last moment I’ll share is one I already wrote a column about in the preseason, but I think it bears mentioning again.
    On the first day of fall camp, it was hot. I mean really hot.
    About an hour into practice, it started to rain.
    Cornerback Laron Scott took off his helmet, looked up, leaned over to a group of teammates, smiled, pointed at the sky and said, “That’s Erk. He’s giving us a little drizzle.”
    Football fans, and especially Georgia Southern fans, like to get all caught up in the lore and the traditions surrounding their favorite program, and GSU rivals anywhere else in the country in that department.
    I guess that was the moment that I realized that the players – be they alumni, true freshmen or JuCo transfers – get just as caught up in it as everyone else.
    Well, that’s another year in the books. Considering I’m writing this on Dec. 31, 2010 and you’re reading it in 2011, I’m not sure how to finish, so I’ll just say good luck with your New-Year’s resolutions, enjoy what’s left of the holiday season and excuse me, because I’ve got some basketball to cover.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.   

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