On Wednesday, Georgia Southern will attend its last Southern Conference Media Day in Spartanburg, S.C.
In all likelihood, it will be bittersweet for the Eagles — and Appalachian State — because, although both programs will soon join the Football Bowl Subdivision, the conference has been good for them. They’ve been good for the conference, too.
It’ll also be bittersweet for the SoCon. Those two programs have outgrown the league, but there are nine combined national championships walking out the door (five when you consider that Georgia Southern’s first four came as a I-AA Independent), and most of the SoCon championships of the last 20 years.
So Wednesday may serve as a day of reflection for the defectors.
True, Elon, College of Charleston and Davidson are leaving the SoCon too, but when it comes to football, most of the league’s recent history lives in Statesboro, Ga., and Boone, N.C.
Wofford, Chattanooga and The Citadel will be licking their chops on Wednesday, talking about SoCon title chances and the prospect of a 2013 playoff run, but GSU’s playoff and SoCon title days are officially numbered.
A new era will begin in 2014, but until then, there is plenty of time to reflect on the already rich history of Georgia Southern football.
There have been so many monumental wins. There was the Appalachian State win in 2010 that turned Jeff Monken’s first season as a head coach around and put GSU on a trajectory that led to the end of a four-year playoff drought.
There was 2007 when Jayson Foster and the Eagles went to The Rock in Boone and, “Put an Eagle crack in it,” (thanks, Chris Blair) just weeks after the Mountaineers got their historical win over Michigan.
No. 1 Furman went down in Paulson Stadium in 2005.
There was that day in Boone in 2001 when senior Adrian Peterson, for the first time in his career, didn’t rush for 100 yards, and nobody cared because the Eagles won.
There were, of course, the six national championships.
There were some memorable losses, too.
There was the Furman game in 2007 that saw the Eagles miss a field goal, resulting in a missed playoff trip and no SoCon title, because of a few inches.
There was the 2005 loss to Texas State in the first round of the playoffs that led to a four-year lull in the playoffs and the option.
There was the 2002 loss to Western Kentucky in the semifinals — still one of the best games I’ve personally seen at any level — that featured a frantic GSU comeback only to end in a missed field goal.
Those are some of my most memorable games, but that barely scratches the surface.
How about you?
We’d love to hear from you. Send a couple of sentences about the game that meant the most to you to email@example.com, and we’ll relive the biggest games in your memory before we close the book on Georgia Southern’s “I-AA years” with the 2013 season.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.