If you follow me on Twitter, then you may have noticed that all season long I have been abbreviating "Georgia Southern" as "GS." Not "GSU," but simply "GS." That's all been building towards this moment.
I know there are people who want Georgia Southern vs Georgia State to be a rivalry. In a way, it is just by being an in-state game. There's been a lot of hate built up since Georgia State announced their football program would begin in 2010. There's been a lot of talk about who is "the real GSU."
First, I have to get one thing straight. When it comes to the academic side of things, it doesn't matter. At all. Both schools have very respectable programs and should be proud to call themselves "GSU." I'm sure Grambling State feels the same way. This is only on the athletics side of things, and primarily football, at that.
Sure, I could talk about having a dedicated basketball arena (even if it is old and in need of serious work) vs a third-floor gym, but that's not germane to the discussion of football, is it?
There are plenty of Georgia Southern fans who will disagree with me on this one, but I would rather Georgia Southern fans drop the discussion on "who is the real GSU?" altogether. How many times have you been frustrated when announcers or articles say "Georgia State" when they mean "Georgia Southern"? Why continue to give them more things to be confused about?
There's nothing I've hated more over the last few years than to see Georgia Southern's triumphs mentioned on TV and be referred to as "Georgia State." Or to have people say "GSU? Didn't y'all just start football a few years back?" when I mention Georgia Southern.
You're never going to get rid of the confusion completely, though. Georgia Southern has distanced itself from using "GSU" in anything athletics related, but the names are still just too close for there to not be some slips of the tongue that make people say the wrong thing. Correct where the mistake is made, but never follow up with discussions on who is "the real GSU."
It Lends Legitimacy
For a few years, now, we've been subject to claims by Georgia State people that they're going to immediately be successful (proven false many times over) and will surpass Georgia Southern quickly in all areas of football (also proven false). I've even seen claims that the only reason Georgia Southern moved up is because Georgia State did. They want to build the ties. They want to try to say the schools' fates are tied together.
They're not. Georgia Southern could have and should have moved up well over 15 years ago, but the administration wasn't behind it at all. It took a strong administration with a desire for the move to get it to happen. That it happened to be around the time Georgia State started their football program is inconsequential.
Georgia State fans have tried from their beginning to establish supremacy over Georgia Southern. There were all the claims about the Dome being a huge recruiting tool, Atlanta media markets, etc. None of that could change the fact that they were starting from scratch. They didn't let that stop them from acting superior right off the bat, though.
Where has it gotten them?
Hey, look, they won their first FBS game this year! They've even won a few of them. Good for them. And one day they'll beat Georgia Southern. It'll happen. I don't think it's this year, but it will happen. However, that's still not ever going to change their status as a commuter school in downtown Atlanta with no solid fan base and zero history of success at football.
Georgia Southern sits in a quiet little southeast Georgia farming town. It's an hour away from beautiful Savannah. Oh, and there are championship flags flying above our stadium. Six of them. In our stadium. Not in a Dome where we're so low in priority that we get bumped to a Wednesday night just so we can play our first ever game at home. That's Our House.
Yes, those are FCS titles. No, they don't matter on the FBS scene. So why do we still talk about them? Well, you see, the Eagles won them. Six of them. In less than 20 years. Georgia Southern was a constant force on the FCS level. The Eagles were always listed among the elite. Most people respect that. You know why many wouldn't? Because they have no accomplishments of their own. Because some people think that a "media market" is all it takes for someone to be great.
I don't see New York City's college football team doing big things, do you? What do you mean "they don't have one"? Oh, that's right, Media Markets don't automatically equal greatness.
Greatness isn't given to you. Alabama isn't great just because they're Alabama. They're great because Nick Saban is one of the most intense and hardest working coaches in the nation. Where's Tuscaloosa on the "Media Market" list?
They built a tradition starting back at the beginning of their program and continue building off it, today. Georgia Southern is the same way. Georgia State's fans seemed to think that right from the start they were going to be great because of all the things they were given. Now they've been discovering that it takes work. Hard work.
Statesboro is a small town. Georgia Southern was a small school when football restarted. But a great man once said that "runts try harder." Georgia Southern went from small and humble to large and proud. The Eagles didn't get that way because of intangibles, they got that way through intense effort and earned the respect of everyone else along the way.
Do you want to know why Georgia Southern fans hate Georgia State fans? It's because for the last 7-8 years we've been subjected to their sense of superiority. Their arrogance that they are so much better when they have absolutely zero reasons to feel that way.
When I was down at Georgia Southern for grad school, I would drive from Statesboro to Atlanta for drill once per month. Around Exit 90, just 26 miles north of Statesboro, there was a giant billboard announcing Georgia State football was coming soon (this was 2009, early 2010).
There was no earthly business for that billboard to be down there. No one in southeast Georgia would care about Georgia State football. However, a lot of Georgia Southern students are from the Atlanta area and had to pass by that same billboard. It was like they were trying to announce even before they played their first game that they were going to be The Big Thing.
It took them over two years to earn their first conference victory. It took Georgia Southern one year to win the conference. Who's superior, now?
Take The "U." I Don't Want It.
Georgia State wants to act like they're the big brother. They're not. They're the insecure little brother who is still growing up. They have no real success to hang their hat on. They want to wave their arms and yell about how they have DA DOME (or are they already moving on to claiming they'll get The Ted, now?). They sit in one of the worst parts of downtown Atlanta and act like they have it made.
I'll take a sleepy little farming town a short drive from the coast any day, you can keep your sky scrapers and dirty streets. I'll take a beautiful campus covered in pine trees, even with the heat and the gnats; it's so much better than breathing in MARTA bus exhaust. I'll take the soft sounds of a lazy little town over the noise of cars honking and sirens blaring. I would much rather deal with the rare traffic from farming equipment than deal with the gridlock of the perimeter.
I don't want to be associated with Georgia State in any way. I don't want the confusion. I don't want people to have to ask which school is which. I don't want to even suggest they're on our level. "Battle for the U"? No. Take the "U." Keep it. We'll be GS, GaSouthern, GASO, I don't care, anything but something that might allow us to be mistaken for that commuter school. They don't deserve the comparison.
One school has a tradition of winning. The other has a tradition of boisterous claims unsubstantiated in any fact.
#HailSouthern. And No Place Else.