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What to make of championship past at Georgia Southern?
04-09-2013 10:11 AM
Now that Georgia Southern football is officially, well, unofficial — as far as the Football Championship Subdivision and Football Bowl Subdivision are concerned, anyway — an interesting question has come up.
The question, which has been posed around town and on the Internet, is a good one.
Now that GSU isn’t in the FCS, should the six national championship flags continue to fly at Paulson Stadium?
Some argue that now that the Eagles are playing with the “big boys,” it’s time to take the flags down and maybe hang them inside the museum area of the new Football Operations Center once it’s built at the stadium.
Others suggest that the flags should stay right where they’re at, at the centerpiece of a stadium home to the most dominant program in I-AA history (the division wasn’t renamed the FCS until well after the Eagles won their last title).
Still others suggested that the flags go to a new, less focal point of the stadium, so potential Sun Belt championships and bowl wins can be memorialized on the big flag pole.
Others suggest selling the flags off to the highest bidder.
I don’t know how GSU will handle the program’s history, as it collides with the future.
I don’t know what the university should do, either.
So, I think I’ll just stick to the facts.
Georgia Southern has won six I-AA (FCS) national titles. Youngstown State has won four. Appalachian State has won three. When you’re talking about elite dynasties in the FCS, well, there you have it.
Marshall had two before moving up in the 1990s, and North Dakota State, Montana and Eastern Kentucky are all still four away from matching GSU’s total.
In other words, GSU’s six national titles at the FCS level set a bar higher than anyone else has even come close to touching, and there’s a good chance nobody ever will.
Those six flags represent a lot. They represent GSU’s unique and storied football history.
They represent a feat so difficult only one college football program could do it.
They represent GSU. Period.
And whether GSU becomes the next Boise State or the next Idaho in the FBS, those flags represent greatness at Georgia Southern that can never be taken away.
I was only in person for one of Georgia Southern’s national titles. There are many in the Eagle Nation who were at all six. They’d probably like to keep those flags right where they are. There are some who never saw any of the titles, and while, of course, there’s respect and admiration for the accomplishments of the past, the flags may not mean as much.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how GSU chooses to recognize those six national championships.
All that matters is that if any FBS program visits Paulson Stadium in the future and doesn’t know anything about the Eagles’ storied history, it won’t take them long to learn.
The Eagles have outgrown the FCS, but without those six national championships, they probably never would have.
By MATT YOGUS, Statesboro Herald