For the second year in a row, Georgia Southern is one game away from being one win away from a seventh NCAA national title.
If that sounds confusing, sorry. Let’s try this instead:
The Eagles, back in the FCS semifinals for the second-straight year after a decade-long absence, only have to win Saturday to move on to the FCS championship game, which will be played in early January in Frisco, Texas.
That “only have to win” is not meant as a slight. Georgia Southern faces a tall order in North Dakota State University, a proud program and one that, like GSU, has played its way to this point.
Those who decry the current means by which Bowl Championship Series champs are crowned know what I mean. The Football Championship Series title won’t be won by popularity contests or computer rankings or polls. Instead, it’ll be decided on the field. And fortunately for the warm-weather Eagles, this game will be played indoors.
Even better than that, whatever happens Saturday will fly under the radar of most of this country’s sports fans — meaning most folks in places not named Bismarck, N.D., or Statesboro or any other of perhaps a couple dozen college towns where FCS football is king — won’t know or care what happened.
Sadly, this lack of popularity galls the daylights out of some Georgia Southern folks, who for years have been kicking up a fuss to have GSU moved to FBS.
I’m not sure why. I think the obscurity that surrounds FCS football and the Eagles is a good thing.
For starters, it means the sport at this level hasn’t been blown out of all proportion by sponsors looking to sell us things.
That’s not so at the BCS level, where ESPN and corporate America reign supreme. It’s as if Madison Avenue put on shoulder pads and a jockstrap and decided that college football goes best with name brands. Not so with FCS, which simply is what it is — great college football without the glitz.
My hope is that won’t change, because we need FCS football to stay the way it is, if only to remind us of everything it isn’t.
Whitten covers sports for the Bryan County News and the Coastal Courier. He is a GSU alumnus.