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Conference changes could affect Georgia Southern, says Monken
Is it possible the ramifications of Syracuse’s and Pittsburgh’s moves to the Atlantic Coast Conference over the weekend could have an indirect effect on Georgia Southern?
Eagles coach Jeff Monken says yes, there could be a trickle down effect for GSU and other Football Championship Subdivision teams that might be looking to move up.
“I think what it’s going to do is create opportunities for schools like Georgia Southern and Appalachian State and Youngstown State and Montana and Delaware, schools that are established at this level, are successful at this level, and have a fan base that could support a move to an upper level,” Monken said after Monday’s practice.
“I don’t know that’s right for Georgia Southern. That’s not my decision to make, but if it is the right thing for Georgia Southern, I have faith in our administration that we’ll make that decision and do what’s right for the school.”
GSU is the top-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision — schools that play with a maximum 63 scholarships. Teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision play with 85 scholarships.
Seemingly, the landscape of the FBS changes daily, getting closer to the concept of an elite few super conferences.
One now wonders what the Big East Conference will do about the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. And if the Big East looks to add a couple of teams by raiding Conference USA would Conference USA then look toward the Sun Belt Conference.
At end of the falling dominoes, are there going to be openings for a Georgia Southern?
Monken said he’s had these types of discussions with other coaches, and athletic directors are keeping open dialogs with other athletic directors.
“We talk a lot about budgets and travel, who you would play, what kind of league you want to get in, what are your coaches salaries, can you support extra staff members,” Monken said.
Georgia Southern appears to be destined to get bigger. There are plans to expand Paulson Stadium, which has a capacity of 18,000.
The Eagles drew nearly 22,000 in their season-opener against Tusculum on Sept. 10.
But would GSU rather be a small fish in a big market rather than the big tuna it is now in the Football Championship Subdivision?
“There’s always that hope and wish you can be bigger and better,” Monken said. “Everybody wants to improve their program. I want to be the best we can at this (FCS) level. If we decide we want to go to another level, let’s decide what we’re going to be the best at.
“If we can be the best in the league we’re going into, that’s great. If we can’t, I’m not sure that’s the kind of program Georgia Southern wants to have.”
The Catamounts, picked for last by Southern Conference coaches during the preseason, come to Paulson Stadium with a 1-1 record. They lost to Georgia Tech 63-21 in the opener before beating Mars Hill 52-31 on Sept. 10.
GSU has won 16 straight games in the series and holds a 19-2 overall edge. The Eagles are 10-0 all time against Western Carolina in Paulson Stadium.
The Catamounts have a young team. Freshman running back Shaun Warren averages 123 rushing yards a game. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Pechloff is throwing for 249.5 yards a game.
This and that
Georgia Southern remained No. 1 in both The Sports Network/Fathead.com and the FCS Coaches top 25 polls. The Eagles notched 115 of the 154 first-place votes in the TSN poll, which solicits votes from sports information and media members across the nation. GSU garnered 25 of the 28 first-place votes in the coaches poll. …
In NCAA statistical rankings, the Eagles are first in rushing defense (allowing 39.5 yards a game), second in scoring offense (46.5 ppg.) and fourth in rushing offense (307.0 ypg.).
Laron Scott leads the nation averaging 52.0 yards a kickoff return, freshman Dominique Swope is first with 26.3 yards per punt return, sophomore Jerick McKinnon is tied for fourth scoring 12.0 points a game and Michael Butler is fifth with 1.5 sacks a game. …
GSU leads the Southern Conference in net punting (37.6 yards per punt). The Eagles are 11 for 11 in the red zone (nine touchdowns and two field goals in 11 attempts).
By Donald Heath, Savannah Morning News