As the 2011 season gets underway, many Georgia Southern fans are optimistic that this is the year that the Eagles can finally reclaim their position at the top of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Division II Tusculum was far from the biggest speed bump in the Eagles’ way this season, but Georgia Southern’s 62-21 win over the Pioneers marked another checkpoint along the road — a laugher for the crowd to enjoy.
Last season’s run to the national semifinals was something right from the storybooks. However, as fitting as it was to see GSU back in the national championship picture, the 2010 season was also one in which the Eagles struggled at times and needed three big wins at the end of the regular season just to reach the playoffs.
Saturday night, the Eagles took another step towards getting back to the level that their fans expect them to be at, mainly, the ability to make the Paulson Stadium crowd largely disinterested in what transpires on the field for the final quarter. Georgia Southern fans are a bunch that walks the fine line between confident and cocky — and deservedly so with the program’s history — so it truly is a big step in the right direction to return to the days of fans filing out of Paulson with plenty of game left to play, already assured of an Eagle victory.
Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken won’t see this the same way. Where there is joy to be taken by fans, there is often only more room for improvement seen by coaches. There are plenty of X’s and O’s to be obsessed over, plenty of decisions to be second-guessed, and plenty of mistakes that need to be fixed.
But this isn’t for the players or for the coaches.
For those who pack Paulson Stadium far over capacity, Saturday’s win — however insignificant in the long run — should serve as a welcoming beacon back to normalcy for a program that is all about being the best. Tusculum might not have been a Southern Conference rival or a playoff opponent, but Georgia Southern took care of business and did so in authoritative fashion… exactly like it’s supposed to.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.