Is it the best of times, or is it the worst of times for Georgia Southern?
On one hand, there’s plenty of things to be grateful for.
Georgia Southern erased a three-game losing streak, stayed in the upper echelon of the Sun Belt standings and crept a bit closer to another bowl game with a win Saturday night in Las Cruces, N.M.
On the other hand, the Eagle faithful just saw their team have to rally in the second half and execute in the final seconds of a game, just to notch a win against one of the Sun Belt’s afterthoughts.
It’s tough to land on an exact feeling for GS football right now.
There is no doubting that the Eagles are struggling. Even with Saturday’s win, Georgia Southern is a far cry from the team that has terrorized defenses for years and has taxed the upper limits of scoreboards.
At the same time, Georgia Southern now carries a winning record, has a 3-1 mard in the Sun Belt, and is close to controlling its own destiny as far as the conference standings go.
To the outside observer, things seem pretty cut and dried. Georgia Southern is in just its third year of FBS play. To go with that, it also has a winning record and a bowl victory to hang its hat on, so a down year shouldn’t be much to worry about.
But for the seasoned fan of Eagle football, things are a bit more complicated.
Even when starting a program from nothing, the Eagles were expected to — and did — achieve the best of things. And while national titles can’t be expected now that the school is playing at the FBS level, there is still a sense of excellence that Eagle fans demand - something that can’t be appeased with a close win at New Mexico State.
In a sense of how the Sun Belt shakes up this week, the Eagles are in a good spot. They’re 3-1 and can win the conference again if they continue to win and get just a bit of help.
But Georgia Southern has never been judged solely on its performance in the perspective of random preseason or conference expectations.
Like it or not, Georgia Southern is judged on par with the best — simply because that is what the standard has always been.
So, no. A hard-fought win over New Mexico State isn’t going to be celebrated as a huge accomplishment. Saturday’s win was exactly what the Eagles needed, but it wasn’t the end-all, be-all of what the program as a whole wants to be.
The Eagles should feel great about righting the wrongs that have hurt them in recent weeks. And they should also forget about recent shortcomings as nothing can be done about the past.
But that still leaves the future.
Saturday night was a step in the right path, but the Eagle faithful are looking for the team to break out into a full sprint in that direction.