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My Take: Like it or not, FBS is happening

My Take: Like it or not, FBS is happening

My Take: Like it or not, FBS is happening

Georgia Southern University president...


It was a sad day in Statesboro for a small-but-vocal group of dejected Georgia Southern fans who think that the Eagles just threw away everything that was good about the football program.


    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record (I know, too late), I just don't get it.


    Georgia Southern is joining the Sun Belt Conference and playing football at the highest level possible in the NCAA.
    Somehow, for many, that's a bad thing.


    I've heard the arguments, and I get it, OK? I do.


    No more day trips to away games in Charleston, Greenville and Spartanburg. No more Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. No more being the biggest, baddest kid on the block.


    Those are all good things, I admit it.


    But there are also some questions that really, really deserve some thought.


    Is playing Samford during the regular season really better than playing South Alabama? Is driving an extra hour to play Troy really worse than playing Chattanooga?


    Isn't GSU's biggest, most heated rivalry (App State) coming along for the ride?


    Are away games at private schools in front of 4,000 fans really better than, well, anything the Sun Belt has to offer?


    Are nonconference games against Tusculum, Presbyterian, Jacksonville and Howard really better than potential games against the likes of Duke, Wake Forest, Southern Miss, Central Florida, Middle Tennessee State, Clemson and Auburn? (Just throwing out some regional possibilities).


    And what is an Elon?


    New matchups can even make a season without a postseason appearance fun, right? After all, I always hear GSU fans share plenty of fond memories from national-championship-less seasons. And let's face it, 7-5 (or much, much worse) seasons are a distinct possibility all of a sudden. Competition's tough out there. There aren't a whole lot of Western Carolinas.


    I get the argument that as an FBS program, GSU won't be competing for national championships anymore — kind of.
    But the BCS is dead. Under the new system, which starts in 2014, there will be a four-team playoff. The top-ranked team out of the five "bottom" conferences — the Sun Belt, Conference USA, the one that used to be called the Big East, the Mid-American Conference and the Mountain West — will get an automatic bid to a major bowl game, and a top-four ranking will garner a bid to the four-team playoff.


    So, it's possible. It's just really, really hard.


    But there's a chance.


    And besides, based on the last 12 years of GSU football, winning an FCS national championship is pretty hard, too. Lest we forget.


    Also, any old average, run-of-the-mill bowl game provides an exciting matchup against a team you'd likely never have played anyway. That people have heard of. In a new city. On national TV. In front of a television audience larger than the FCS national championship game.


    Speaking of television, Sun Belt games are actually on there. They have a contract with ESPN. Sure, some of the games will be on the "lesser" ESPN networks and more are online, but doesn't that beat having two games on GPTV? Or worse, nowhere?


    Georgia Southern Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein is always talking about "perception," and that's pretty important to the mission of a university.


    For example, to your average college football fan, Appalachian State isn't the team that won three-straight national championships. They're the team that beat Michigan. James Madison is a school with a pretty good basketball team. Delaware is that old team that produced the Wing-T, Rich Gannon and Joe Flacco. Georgia Southern is that school that won all those Division II championships — or is that Valdosta State?


    And good luck trying to explain to the average football fan where Wofford is and why its football team is relevant.


    Georgia Southern is getting bigger. The academics are becoming more and more prestigious. Statesboro is growing. It's time for athletics to catch up. And by the way, I haven't even mentioned every other sport. And I'm out of room in this column.


    So every GSU fan is left with two choices. Throw in the towel and find somebody else to root for, or embrace the change that's coming.


    If you do, who knows? You might just have some fun.



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

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