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Commentary: Small Schools Show Big Guts
College football columnist gets excited about the possibility of another SoCon team shocking the world in 2008.
After this column I promise to back away from my man-crush on the Football Championship Subdivision (at least for a while), but I think these guys deserve a little more ink.
During the Southern Conference media days on Wednesday Appalachian State was the center of attention, with most of us wags asking what they could do for an encore after pulling off a national championship three-peat and beating Michigan.
The answer, of course, is win a fourth consecutive national championship and stun LSU.
Topping the defending FBS national champions is a longshot (I’m sure the Mountaineers have heard that before), but you’ve gotta love the fact that these kids crave the chance to play teams they aren’t supposed to even stay with — much less defeat.
“I think (App State coach Jerry Moore) does a really good job recruiting players who hate to lose,” said Mountaineers quarterback Armanti Edwards. “It was surreal to get ranked (in the FBS poll) and then have people talking about me as a Heisman candidate, but you know what? We go into every game and expect to win. It doesn’t matter who we play.”
That’s one of the big attractions to this brand of football. These programs not only refuse to shy away from a challenge; they go out of their way to find one.
Sure, there’s a nice fat check to go along with it, but the coaches and players aren’t thinking about how much money the school is making when they’re at the home stadiums of Michigan or LSU.
Scan the schedules of the nine football-playing SoCon members and you see several juicy matchups with “big time” programs.
The Citadel faces Clemson Sept. 6.
Furman will be in Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech that same day.
Georgia Southern opens at Georgia Aug. 30.
Samford takes on Ole Miss Sept. 13.
Chattanooga tangles with both Oklahoma and Florida State.
Western Carolina also plays Florida State.
Wofford, which defeated Appalachian State last season and won the SoCon title, travels to South Carolina Sept. 20.
On paper these games are monumental challenges, but they also offer great opportunities. App State took advantage of such an opportunity last season.
More and more FCS teams are defeating FBS clubs, which is why a lot of the big boys are being rather careful in choosing which team they pencil in as a “breather.”
The Mountaineers, for example, want to play North Carolina, but the Tar Heels aren’t willing to sign up for what is anything but a sure win.
In years past I’d roll my eyes when I’d see a small school dotting the schedule of a national power.
Thanks to App State, I now look forward to those contests — hoping to see lightning captured in a bottle one more time.
Small schools show big guts
By Scott Adamson, The Anderson Independent-Mail News