Georgia Southern coach Rodney Hennon doesn’t like talking about scenarios. He just wants his Eagles to take care of their own business and let the chips fall where they may.
Turns out, there’s some pretty interesting scenarios depending on where the chips happen to fall.
Over the weekend, while GSU (29-19, 16-8 Southern Conference) was busy taking care of business against non-conference Alcorn State, the top two teams in the league were beating up on each other.
Charleston (35-13, 19-8) took two out of three from The Citadel and – almost but not quite – put destiny squarely in Georgia Southern’s hands.
As it stands, the Bulldogs (30-19, 18-6) hold a half-game lead over Charleston and a two-game lead over the Eagles.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
First, let’s assume GSU can sweep Davidson next weekend and The Citadel at home the following week. I know, I know – just indulge me for a second.
If the Cougars can sweep Appalachian State next weekend, not necessarily an easy task, they will claim the regular-season title by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Eagles.
If Charleston happens to drop one in the ASU series, that will leave GSU and The Citadel to battle it out for SoCon supremacy.
Of course, both squads still have two series left, sort of. The Bulldogs take on UNC Greensboro next weekend while Georgia Southern travels to Davidson – both matchups against the two of the conference bottom dwellers.
Assuming both sweep, the series against the Bulldogs during the last week of the regular season will be for all the marbles.
In that scenario, GSU’s magic number would be two, and The Citadel’s would be one. In other words, take two out of three, and the Eagles tie with the Bulldogs, have the tiebreaker, get the SoCon regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Now, let’s bring it all back down to earth for a second. All of the above scenarios are based on Georgia Southern winning all six of the remaining SoCon games. Unfortunately, nothing that has happened this season indicates GSU is capable of winning six conference games in a row. The best stretch of the season came after the Eagles took the last two from Elon and followed that up with a sweep of a (somehow) halfway decent Samford team. Still, those five wins were sandwiched between a pair of ugly losses to Charleston and Elon and the brutal trip to Atlanta when Georgia Tech outscored GSU 24-6 over two games.
But hey, there’s a first time for everything, and if it comes down to the final series and the Eagles have a shot at a title, for my money, that’s about all you can ask from a team in rebuilding mode.
With 10 games left and hopefully three or four more in the tournament, this GSU team – after all it’s been through this season – still actually has a shot at 40 wins, and that may be the most surprising scenario of all.
Anyway, basically, what it boils down to is that GSU needs to win out in the league and get just a little bit of help from the top.
Maybe the Eagles shouldn’t worry about anyone else, and just focus on taking care of their own business after all.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.