Let me just get this out of the way first.
The story of Georgia Southern’s 27-10 loss in the FCS semifinals against Delaware wasn’t that the Eagles turned over the football five times.
The story was that they turned over the football five times in the semifinals of the playoffs.
Logically speaking, after a new coaching staff, a new system and a bunch of underclassmen on the 2010 team, those were five turnovers GSU shouldn’t have even had the opportunity to commit in the first place.
So, all things considered, wow, what a season.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s take a step back and look at this program, from the fan’s perspective, for what it really is.
There’s just something different about being a Georgia Southern fan.
There, I said it.
Looking at this thing from the outside in, there are a lot of things that make being a GSU fan unique. Basically, there’s Georgia Southern, and then there’s everybody else.
Only at Georgia Southern …
… can a kid like Brett Moore be named an Associated Press All American.
Moore was on the team in 2009, but if you look at the participation sheets from all 11 games that year, you’d hardly even know it.
After his senior season in high school, Moore stopped playing football. He went to junior college, and after that, he decided he wanted to get back into football.
He came to Georgia Southern and walked onto the team, earning a spot as the backup long snapper on special teams. He was involved in two plays the entire season.
All of a sudden, the 2010 season rolls around, and the 6-foot-3, 253-pound junior is a starting offensive lineman. He got his first offensive snap in three years on Sept. 4 against Savannah State, and 15 games later, the under-sized backup long snapper is a third-team, AP All American.
… can a kid like Russell DeMasi score a rushing touchdown in a playoff game.
Let’s forget for a second that GSU probably had no business even being in the playoffs, let alone making a run. Quarterback Russell DeMasi had no business being on the team.
In fact, before the season started, he was told just that. After the first-year coaching staff evaluated the quarterback situation, it realized that it needed some QB depth. DeMasi was asked to rejoin the team, which he happily did. He spent the season with a headset on, calling in plays.
Then, in the first round of the playoffs against No. 10 South Carolina State, DeMasi got in the game, only to punch in a 1-yard touchdown to put GSU up 41-10.
Against a Top 10 team.
… can a fan base do a call-and-response cheer from one side of the stadium to the other — on the road.
That’s right, when Georgia Southern fans learned the Eagles were going on the road for the quarterfinals of the playoffs against Wofford in Spartanburg, S.C., they not only showed up, they nearly doubled the Gibbs Stadium crowd, took up the entire visitor’s side and one-third of the home side and shouted, “Georgia,” “Southern,” back and fourth.
And yes, they also yelled, “Whose house?” “Our house!”
… can you win three-straight playoff games by completing 10 passes — combined.
And one of them was by the punter.
In playoff wins over South Carolina State, William and Mary and Wofford, Georgia Southern put up 923 total yards and did it while completing only 10 passes. One of them was by punter Charlie Edwards on a fake field goal.
In conclusion, there are plenty of off-the-field traditions that make being a Georgia Southern fan unique. There’s the yellow school busses, Beautiful Eagle Creek and the sayings like “One More Time” and “GATA” that date back to legendary coach Erk Russell.
But on the field, Georgia Southern is also plenty unique.
The Eagles win football games their way, and they do it with a bunch of “runts.” After all, “Runts have to try harder.”
Every team has its traditions, its history and its way of doing things, but at Georgia Southern, the experience as a fan and as a player is something you just can’t get anywhere else.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.