Like any first-year head coach, Tyson Summers will be out to show the world he can win as he takes over the Georgia Southern Eagles.
He'll get that chance and then some in 2016.
If you haven't already, take a look at the schedule:
The 2015 @GoDaddyBowl champions, @GSAthletics_FB, face this 2016 schedule in Year 1 under @TysonSummersGSU. pic.twitter.com/3muvvYnacg— #FunBelt (@SunBelt) March 3, 2016
We already knew who the team would play this year, just not the dates. However, with the full schedule now out we'll go ahead and assess the entire deal.
Georgia Southern Plays Five of its First Seven Games on the Road
The Eagles' current "scheduling philosophy" is five home games in even numbered years, six home games in odd numbered years. This is one of a thousand disadvantages G5 teams have compared to major conference schools, which play at home seven or even eight times a season.
It is what it is, but those scarce home games are also backloaded, meaning GS will be touring the country for most of September and October. Which brings us to...
Georgia Southern has a 40-Day Stretch Between Home Games
After trouncing Savannah State as politely as possible opening day, Southern plays Louisiana-Monroe at home Sept. 17. From there, the next home game doesn't come until Oct. 27, the big Appalachian State rivalry.
That's 40 days on the road, most of it not even in the southeast. GS plays in Michigan, then in Arkansas, then a relatively close Atlanta before heading to New Mexico. The Arkansas State game is on a Wednesday night and I'm glad I don't handle logistics for the athletic department.
Three of the four are against good teams and the trip ends with another weeknight game -- on a Thursday this time -- against the dreaded Mountaineers. Tough.
Georgia Southern Plays the Sun Belt's Best
The awkward 11-team rotation is ending but we've got to deal with it for two more seasons. The Eagles drop basement dwellers Idaho and Texas State to pick up heavyweights Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette. ULL was down in 2015 but this could easily be a trade of two wins for two losses.
The Non-Conference Schedule Provides Little Relief
I say little relief because Savannah State is there to start the season, and that will be easier than playing an intramural squad at the RAC. But the other three are Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Western Michigan.
Ole Miss has beaten Alabama two years in a row and is playing its best football in decades. Western Michigan rowed the boat to a recruiting class better than half of the Big Ten. Georgia Tech could be a great chance for an upset but is still one year removed from 11-3 and an Orange Bowl win.
The Last Game of the Season is Not Georgia State
Okay, enough about how tough the schedule is. Last season the two GSUs decided to play on the last week of the season (I'd call it "rivalry weekend" but it's the weekend after most rivals play). That plan has been derailed after a single year.
Have they canceled the rivalry? Probably not. It's more likely because Georgia State won't have a stadium Dec. 3. Something called the SEC Championship Game will be in Da Dome.
What does it all mean? The Eagles could end up with a better team sporting a worse record. It's not a bad schedule by any means. Most fans would rather see an exciting game than a blowout. But it does mean Southern will have to show its resilience, especially during that 40-day road stretch.
Kickoff is six months from today. Hail Southern!