A typical game week for a college football team is best described as organized chaos. Players continuously shuttle between workouts, meetings, classes and practice, not to mention the 50/50 chance that a flight and hotel stay might come into play before taking the field for an actual game.
All of that holds true for Georgia Southern, and last weekend’s firing of former head coach Tyson Summers has only thrown an extra ball in the air.
A hastily-called team meeting to address the leadership change on Sunday gave way to a Monday where the team got back to practice while the GS coaching staff was still figuring out how to rearrange responsibilities and priorities moving forward.
But for as hectic as football can be, there is also a process, and Tuesday saw things settling back into a sense of normalcy.
Few on the Eagles’ roster knows how to adjust to this unique sort of challenge like senior receiver Myles Campbell. Originally signing up to play for a squad coached by Jeff Monken, Campbell saw the GS coaching reins pass from Monken, to Willie Fritz, to Dell McGee for the 2015 Go Daddy Bowl, to Summers, and now to interim coach Chad Lunsford.
“We’re going to miss coach Summers — he’s as true blue as it comes,” Campbell said. “At the same time, we understand that this is a business. Our goal now is to stay together and to support each other.”
Defensive back Kindle Vildor is on the other end of the spectrum.
While Campbell has run the gauntlet throughout five falls with the team, Vildor was recruited by Summers and was trusted by the former coach to take the field as a true freshman last season. On a team that is packed with underclassmen, Summers’ departure has hit harder than would usually be the case for a coach who was with the team for less than two years.
“I had a great personal relationship with Coach Summers,” Vildor said. “It was an emotional scene for everyone, but you have to move forward. We understand what’s going on and now we’re ready for the challenge against Troy this week.”
Regardless of the turmoil surrounding the coaching change, the Eagles know that they won’t be receiving any sympathy from Troy as they prepare for a road game against the Trojans slated for Saturday afternoon.
Georgia Southern was able to get up off the mat last season and throw enough punches on the final day of the regular season to deprive Troy of a claim to the Sun Belt championship. The Trojans are once again a conference front-runner and have as much incentive as anyone to beat the Eagles as they have come up short in each of their first three tries as a conference rival with Georgia Southern.
Leading the Eagles into the fight will be Lunsford, who is in his fifth consecutive season with the team and his eighth overall. And just as the players are being asked to ignore distractions and prepare for a tough conference game, there is similar stress on the coaching staff.
“You get pulled in a lot of directions,” GS interim coach Chad Lunsford said. “I’ve reached out to others and asked for advice since this is my first time doing it. I’ve also taken notes along the way to prepare myself for being in this situation.
“The main thing is that we have a good coaching staff and we’re all leaning on each other. There’s energy and enthusiasm. Everyone is doing their part to make sure we have a good week.”
Georgia Southern will continue to settle in with life under Lunsford, but don't have much time before taking the field again.
The Eagles travel to Troy on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.