Greetings Eagle fans!
Welcome to a place I like to call “Rock Bottom”.
You may not know it yet, heck you might just be in denial. But when your team falls to 4-6 and in danger of losing postseason eligibility because of a loss to UL-Lafayette — you are in Rock Bottom.
What is Rock Bottom? It probably looks different to some people, but for me I’ll always imagine it as it was depicted in one of my favorite childhood shows: Spongebob Squarepants.
Not the crappy Spongebob that’s on today’s television, the good stuff. From 1999-2004, when Derek Drymon was the creative director the show was funny, smart and packed a lot of wit in just 12 minutes of airtime.
And there was a particular episode that featured a place called Rock Bottom. It was an actual town. In the episode, titular character Spongebob boards the wrong bus on the way home from an amusement park that takes him to the town “Rock Bottom”.
Funny as it is, the road to Rock Bottom was at a ninety degree angle. The literal paved road just continued off the side of a cliff and went straight down. The people, or fish, on the bus had no idea what had hit them when the bus drove down the side of this cliff.
The actual town of Rock Bottom is how you’d picture the bottom of the ocean. It’s dark, no light shines down from the ocean surface. The citizens are all bizarre-looking deep sea fish who all speak by sticking their tongues out and making the “raspberry” sound.
Spongebob becomes lost and confused in Rock Bottom, not understanding how he got there or how to get back to the surface. He spends the episode becoming increasingly frustrated as he continuously misses the bus trying to get back to the surface with no success.
I feel like a lot of Georgia Southern fans are Spongebob right now. They were riding a bus being driven by Tyson Summers, who hit the injury bug and swerved off the road trying to avoid Rance Gillespie and fell right off the cliff into Rock Bottom.
Now they’re all stuck at the bus station, making raspberry sounds with their tongues trying to figure out how they got there and why it happened. It’s unfamiliar territory for Southern fans, as it is for most programs who are used to sustained success.
Right now, the 2016 season is sitting in the same bucket of chum as 2009, 2006 and 1996. All of those seasons have something in common.
They were all losing seasons, they all came without the spoils of a postseason appearance and each happened under a brand new head coach or in the case of 2009, the final season of a head coach.
Now that’s not me alluding to Summers being fired or being deserved to be fired — it’s a ridiculous notion. The guy needs time to build his regime, and he’s still very young in his first job as a head coach. But it can no longer ignored that he’s fallen way short of reasonable expectations in 2016.
Georgia Southern knew they were taking a risk by hiring a coach who didn’t come from the “option” tree, the offense that’s allowed GS to become a storied program and win nine or more games in five of their last six seasons.
Well, risks come with consequences. Sometimes, risks don’t pay off. This one doesn’t look to have for the moment. Although, it’s hard not to find the irony in the last time Georgia Southern had a losing season — Gillespie was in charge of the offense.
And look, I know injuries happen. They’ve certainly taken a toll on the offense’s regression this season. Without a running quarterback, the offense simply isn’t a threat or even interesting. It’s not fair to put the burden on Seth Shuman, who wasn’t even supposed to play this season.
Other places, like the lack of consistent push from the offensive line or the defense being dysfunctional deserve more attention. I mean, UL-Lafayette's offense is ranked 118th in Bill Connellys' S&P rankings and put up 33 points and 7.3 yards per play against this defense Thursday night.
By the way, that 7.3 is the highest the Ragin’ Cajuns have had all season. Higher than against New Mexico State, Texas State and McNeese State.
This all happened in front of a national audience too. It was a performance so stupefying it drove the students out of the stands and back to drinking their sorrows away in their apartments. The screenshot of the empty stands on homecoming while losing 33-19 to a bad team was simply embarrassing.
By the way, I’m not an angry fan — as I’ve stated many times before. I just know how I would feel if this was the team I rooted for.
So if you don’t think you’re at Rock Bottom, look around. It’s dark, people are sticking their tongues out and the bus isn’t coming to pick you up anytime soon.