Georgia Southern hasn’t won a game this season.
The Eagles have emerged victorious in just two of their last 13 games and haven’t celebrated consecutive wins in more than a year.
Some of the losing could be attributed to this year’s incredibly young and inexperienced team. Some could be explained by a rocky transition during a full coaching staff overhaul from 2015 to 2016. Some might have come from extensive travel, weather-related diversions or timing of scheduled opponents that stacked the deck.
But no amount of reasons was going to justify the current place of the Eagles in the college football world. When the final seconds ticked away in the Eagles’ 55-20 loss at Massachusetts on Saturday, there was only one move that the fanbase was willing to accept.
And on Sunday afternoon, that move was made.
Tyson Summers is out as head coach just over 22 months after accepting the position just before the calendar rolled over to 2016. He inherited the reigning Go Daddy Bowl champions, along with more than a dozen influential senior starters set to come back for Summers’ first season at the helm.
That team proceeded to go 5-7 while missing out on a bowl game. More alarmingly, that team was stocked with the talent that had led the nation in rushing for two straight years, only to see its offensive numbers come crashing to earth.
The offseason brought about change as Summers traded in his co-offensive coordinators who had minimal option experience for a proven triple option mind in Bryan Cook. And while the schemes have looked better at times in 2017, the departed talent has caused a void that has left the offense sputtering on many occasions.
If Georgia Southern fans were willing to accept the steep learning curve of another new offensive coordinator and a freshman quarterback taking control of the unit, the continued deterioration of the defense only pushed them further towards the brink.
In the end, it seemed as if any hint of promise for the immediate future of the Eagles was snuffed out by another penalty, another big negative play, and ultimately another loss.
As someone who has been in meeting rooms and practice fields for the duration of the last 22 months, I’d be lying if I said that I was happy to see the plug get pulled on Summers. Because while I’m obliged to criticise where necessary — and maybe get a little loose with the in-game twitter commentary — even my fandom to my alma mater and frustration with its current state of affairs wasn’t going to make me revel in someone else’s low moment.
Summers is a stand-up guy. And while his coaching decisions and game planning are more than fair game for critics, it also says something when you hear about a long line of teary-eyed players waiting at his door to make sure they had a chance to say goodbye to their coach.
Summers has been mostly successful throughout his coaching career. It’s not possible to land at the top of an FBS program before you’re 40 if that’s not the case. Georgia Southern wasn’t his only opportunity when he chose Statesboro in 2015 and it likely wasn’t the best paying of all the options on his plate.
That’s the toughest part of the coaching game. He wanted the chance to run his own ship. He stepped to the plate and took a big swing.
And he missed.
And history has shown that Georgia Southern isn’t willing to wait for three strikes.
It’s too bad for all parties involved, but it’s not the end for anyone. Summers will have a chance to get back in the game somewhere else and — while hard to fathom now — all the hard feelings acquired over the Eagles’ 2-13 stretch will melt away quicker than fans think once the winning ways return.
For the sake of interim head coach Chad Lunsford and whoever the eventual permanent coach is, I hope those winning ways return sooner than later.
Georgia Southern has been a winner for nearly its entire modern existence. It simply isn’t willing to wait on anyone to catch up to it.
The last 48 hours are proof that the Eagles’ adherence to a winning culture doesn’t think about losing streaks or coaching regimes. It’s only thoughts are on the next win, and then the one after that.