As the 2013 season approaches, it’s starting to sink in for the Eagle Nation that there will be 11 games for the Georgia Southern Eagles, no more, no less.
With senior Jerick McKinnon at quarterback, a scary backfield that includes Dominique Swope, Johnathan Bryant and Ezayi Youyoute, just to name a few off of a lengthy list of capable running backs, it’s easy to ask the question, “How far could they go?”
Head coach Jeff Monken has made clear his intentions that the Eagles are all in this season — no redshirting talented players to “save” them for the Sun Belt and no holding back for the future.
The Eagles are going to try to leave the Southern Conference in style.
That has begged the question of whether or not the 2013 season is a throwaway year.
Without the chance for a Southern Conference title, a seventh national title, a Sun Belt title or a bowl bid, isn’t this a meaningless season?
The answer to that question, without waxing too philosophical, requires a bit of reflection.
Remember when Jayson Foster won the Walter Payton Award, led the Eagles to a win at “The Rock” and otherwise was spectacular in 2007?
Remember when GSU took down No. 1 Furman in 2005?
Remember in 2001 when Appalachian State held Adrian Peterson under 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career, but J.R. Revere went off and the Eagles won, 27-18, anyway?
That’s only a small sampling of hundreds of memories Georgia Southern fans continue to reflect upon. And they all have one thing in common — the Eagles did not win a national championship during any of those seasons.
College football is about moments. Any of the above-mentioned examples and any other number of moments — including dozens from the past three years alone — are meaningful to GSU fans and players. They’re also not diminished in the least because the Eagles failed to claim the ultimate prize during those seasons.
I guarantee that there will be more moments, more memories, created for the fans in 2013. McKinnon will rack up a mind-spinning number of rushing yards, or Zach Walker will put together another highlight reel of spectacular catches, or Swope will score touchdowns at a breakneck clip, or Bryant will dazzle with a punt return, or Valdon Cooper will make a game-changing interception, or heck, all of the above.
The Eagles will take the field — possibly for the last time — against Furman and Wofford. They have revenge on the mind against Appalachian State and The Citadel. They will go to the Swamp and play Florida.
There will be meaningful games, and more importantly, meaningful moments.
Is it lame that the Eagles can’t make the playoffs this year? Yep. That they can’t be crowned SoCon champs? Yep.
But it would be a disservice to the seniors on that team who have put the last four or five years of their lives in the program to call what they’re about to do for the next four months anything other than meaningful.