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GSU keeps eye out for FBS opportunity
Georgia Southern is like a teenager waiting for his parents to get a new car. There’s a good chance the teenager will step up his ride by inheriting the unwanted trade-in.
So Eagles athletics director Sam Baker keeps an eye on recent realignments of college football conferences, watching schools looking to trade up. A move at the top could have positive trickle-down repercussions on the Eagles.
“There’s still a lot to be determined at the top level,” Baker said Thursday. “I think we’re all aware the rearrangement of the chairs at the dance is still not finished.
“Georgia Southern has always monitored what’s going on. We will do whatever we have to do to play football and have an athletics program that competes at a meaningful level.”
Talking to a gathering of about 75 GSU supporters at the Johnny Harris Restaurant banquet room Thursday afternoon, Baker didn’t announce the Eagles would jump from the 63-scholarship-playing Football Championship Subdivision to the 85-scholarship Football Bowl Subdivision.
In fact, Baker said he hasn’t had discussions with any of the FBS conferences. But if a favorable opportunity arises, GSU wants to be ready.
With overflow attendances accompanying a renewed enthusiasm, a renovation of Paulson Stadium has come to the forefront. Baker said an upper deck on the north side of the stadium would add another 4,000 seats and filling in the sides would bring another 5,000 seats.
Beyond the north end zone (scoreboard side), a 52,000-square-foot building would house locker rooms, coaches offices, meeting rooms, a weight room and a Hall of Fame.
“Make everything attractive to whatever’s out there,” Baker said.
Of course, renovations will take money. Five months ago at another function in Savannah, Baker projected the cost of the football building at $10 million.
Having nice facilities are important in the recruitment of top athletes.
“It’s no different if we were recruiting chemistry students. They’d want to see what the lab looked like they’d be working in,” Baker said.
Plenty of rumors are swirling with the realignment, but Baker downplayed the notion that Georgia Southern and Appalachian State could go to a FBS conference as a package deal.
The Mountaineers have already announced their intention to move up. Georgia Southern remains noncommittal.
“It’s not just like wave a magic wand and have it happen,” Baker said. “It’s going to take money. It’s not just an athletic department decision. It’s really an institutional decision.”
By Donald Heath, Savannah Morning News