Sports are an unorthodox system if economics — they defy all logical rules we know as the consumer.
For example, if you buy an iPhone and if after using it for around year you’re unsatisfied with what the product offers — you can then buy another brand to see if it will satisfy your phone needs.
The same can be said for anything we buy in the marketplace: food, appliances or household services like lawn care and plumbing. The free market allows us to chose what we want and whether or not we want to pay for it.
This is why sports are so strange to me. We can invest all of our time and money into one team, and even if that team doesn’t produce satisfactory results we, the fan, continue to invest in something that we know isn’t a quality product.
It’s a direct contradiction to how the economy works with literally every other good and service. Loyalty means nothing when it comes to, let’s say, mayonnaise. If one brand of mayonnaise is unsatisfactory to you, nothing keeps you loyal to that jar of fat. You just buy another brand.
But loyalty is something that matters in the world of sports fans. It’s an emotional bond to a team that rationally is hard to explain. Besides, nothing is worse than being a “bandwagon fan” or a team hopper in the sports fan universe.
So where am I going with all of this? Two points.
One: I admire the loyalty Georgia Southern fans have to their team. People drove three and a half hours here from Atlanta to watch Thursday’s debacle and then had to drive three and a half hours back knowing they have to wake up and deal with hellacious Atlanta traffic the next morning.
That is some serious fan loyalty. And that goes to everyone, not just the Atlanta contingent, who spends their hard-earned money on Georgia Southern apparel, game tickets and donations to the athletic program. Not to mention the taxpayer money that goes into funding the university.
Two: The product that you, the Georgia Southern fan, are paying for is a bad one. And if you didn’t see it the last four weeks, it smacked you right in the face Thursday night.
After struggling against New Mexico State last week, the writing was on the wall with this game against Appalachian State. Last week Georgia Southern’s offense struggled against one of the five worst defenses in the country. So what did fans think was going to happen this week?
Let me tell you. 2.9 yards per play is what happened, for three offensive points. Erk Russell just choked on his cigar in the great beyond watching Thursday’s performance.
Now, I’m not in the business of ripping college kids. Student athletes have it hard enough, so the last thing they need is some gasbag at the local newspaper criticizing their every move.
However, I am in the business of ripping the well-paid adult coaches who are in charge of running this team. If GS fans want to point fingers at anyone, look no further than this coaching staff.
I will give Tyson Summers some slack. This is his first job and he’s 36 years old, which is obscenely young for someone in charge of a division one college football program. His growing pains are to be expected as a head coach considering both of the above factors.
And whether or not you think he should have been hired in the first place is out of the question now. GS has no business firing Summers after one season, no matter how bad things avalanche from here.
But, this is his program and he needs to be held accountable for its failures in 2016.
He was the one who hired Rance Gillespie and David Dean, the co-offensive coordinators. Their offense has been flat-out bad this year and they are the common denominator. This offense is basically the same scheme as it was under Willie Fritz with the same personnel, and the 2015 offense was a top-40 unit.
Gillespie and Dean have a Summers’-and-a-half (54 years for those who didn’t get the joke) of coaching experience and make well over six figures combined. So this can’t possibly be the best thing Georgia Southern is putting out on offense.
There doesn’t appear to be any variation or creativity in the play calling. It’s real easy to tell because for four weeks now opposing defenses have telegraphed nearly every play Southern runs on offense. No one is fooled and no one is surprised at anything Southern throws out on offense.
And what is up with Seth Shuman? In what world is it fair to ask the two-star true freshman to throw into a top-40 defense inside his own 20 yard line? What’s the thought process there? Where the heck is Kevin Ellison?
There are many more questions to be asked, but that performance Thursday night was something the Georgia Southern consumer should not be happy with. Especially with all the hype around the game this week, I can only imagine how disappointing it must have been to see that product flung out on the field.
Summers should take a long look at his offensive staff next week, because I know he doesn’t want to be the coach that loses bowl eligibility in Atlanta two weeks from now because of offensive malfunctions.
And as a Southern fan it’s time to ask yourself: am I happy with the product I’m investing in? Because if it was me, I certainly wouldn’t.