The Eagles Indoors
Oct. 15, 1983: at East Tennessee, L 7-24.
Nov. 3, 1984: at East Tennessee, L 17-20
Dec. 14, 1985: at Northern Iowa, W 40-33 national semifinals
Dec. 21, 1985: vs. Furman, Tacoma, Wa., W 44-42 national championship game
Dec. 20, 1986: vs. Arkansas State, Tacoma, Wa., W 48-21 national championship game
Dec. 17, 1988: vs. Furman, Pocatello, Id., L 12-7 national championship game
Nov. 20, 1993: at East Tennessee W 31-24
Sept. 9, 1995: vs. Middle Tennessee, W 34-26 at Georgia Dome
Oct. 28, 1995: at East Tennessee, L 16-21
Nov. 1, 1997: at East Tennessee, W 38-30
Oct. 30, 1999: at East Tennessee, W 55-6
Oct. 27, 2001: at East Tennessee, L 16-19
Nov. 1, 2003: at East Tennessee, W 34-22
Ever wonder what it would be like to be on the inside of a fire engine siren on its way to a fire?
Georgia Southern’s football team is going to get an idea at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday when it meets North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D., for the semifinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
The Bison (12-1) are an outstanding football team as evidenced by their record, which includes a 37-24 win over Minnesota, and their No. 2 seeding for the playoffs.
As if it needed any additional help, North Dakota State also has the benefit of playing in the Fargodome.
The dome, built by the City of Fargo for $48 million with the help of a half penny sales tax increase, opened in 1993. It is an 18,700 seat sound chamber that gives the Bison one of the top home field advantages in college football.
North Dakota State’s only loss of the season came at home to Youngstown State, 27-24. The Bison are 86-20 in the dome, 36-10 under Coach Craig Bohl.
While both teams are among the cream of the crop in FCS — Georgia Southern was ranked No. 1 for seven weeks and NDSU was No. 1 before losing to the Penguins — much of the talk about the Eagles this week has focused on their ability to adapt to playing indoors.
“I’ve never been there, but I’ve talked to a lot of people about it,” Georgia Southern Coach Jeff Monken said of the Fargodome. “I’ve heard it’s really loud, and that’s a concern, especially with snap counts.”
In last week’s 24-0 quarterfinal win over Lehigh, the Bison faithful were at their loudest. The decibel label was measured at 111.
To put it into perspective a decibel level of 111 is comparable to a lawn mower or chain saw. Picture parking your revved up John Deere next to Jaybo Shaw as he calls signals and expecting a wide receiver to hear the call.
Playing inside is not something new to Georgia Southern football.
Two of the biggest games in Georgia Southern history were played inside: the Eagles’ national championships in 1985 and 1986 were both won in the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wa.
In winning the 1985 title GSU beat Northern Iowa in the Unidome in the semifinals.
While no records for such a category are available, it might be safe to say the Eagles are perhaps the only visiting team to win consecutive indoor games.
In its 30 years of football, GSU has actually played 13 games in a dome, and while it had two big indoor wins, two of its most disappointing losses also came inside.
The Eagles lost to Furman in the 1988 national championship game which was played in Pocatello, Idaho, and in 2001 East Tennessee stunned Paul Johnson’s last GSU team, 19-16.
The loss at ETSU was one of the biggest upsets in school history.
The Eagles were ranked No. 1 and were riding a 12-game winning streak. Starting quarterback J.R. Revere was injured, and although he entered the game with 1:42 to play in the third quarter with the Eagles trailing by 10 points, he couldn’t pull it out.
Georgia Southern is 8-5 indoors, and all five losses were at East Tennessee where they were 3-5. In the playoffs, the Eagles are 5-0 playing under a roof.
Monken, of course, has experience coaching indoors as he made three trips to East Tennessee, and he was on Johnson’s staff at Georgia Tech when the Yellow Jackets played LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Also, when he was an assistant at Navy, the Middies played in the old Astro Dome in Houston.
“It’s a lot different,” Monken said. “The guys catching the ball have to spot the ball coming out of the rafters and the scoreboards. It’s difficult to deal with a dome.”
There’s also the matter of footwear. The turf in the Fargodome is worn — it is going to be replaced after this game — and hard.
“We’ll take a couple of pairs of different shoes with us,” Monken said. “We’ll have a turf shoe and tennis shoes. We’ll let the guys run around on Friday and let them decide which shoe they want to wear.”
Still, there’s the noise level which is magnified in the Fargodome due to its compactness. It’s more like a basketball arena than a facility such as the Georgia Dome.
“It’s a smaller venue,” Monken said. “The only way to keep them quiet is to make some plays.”
Shaw, who was also a member of the Tech team that played in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and has seen numerous games at the Georgia Dome, acknowledges playing in a dome presents problems, but nothing which cannot be overcome.
“Communication issues are always an issue,” Shaw said. “It’s a big thing. You just have to prepare the best you can.
“At the beginning of the game you get used to the noise,” Shaw said. “After the first snap it just goes back to playing football.”