“Good to great.”
That’s been the saying Coach Chad Lunsford has preached all spring and summer. What people have forgotten is the extra sentence or two he has added after that. “Good to great”
doesn’t necessarily mean an improvement in the win column (although that would be fantastic), it means going from “good kids and good students” to “great kids and great students” all while
being great on the field. Some folks have a hard time grasping this concept, and at Georgia
Southern, the long-standing tradition to win certainly takes the driver seat in fan satisfaction. But
with everything the Georgia Southern football team and staff have encountered this year, and
how they have handled each situation, signs of greatness have been shown. Oh yeah, they’re
The Eagles have taken flight in the last few weeks, ripping off four straight wins, which included
thrilling overtime wins against South Alabama and Coastal Carolina, and statement wins against
New Mexico State and Appalachian State have put Georgia Southern at the top of the Sun Belt
However, it was not all happy and merry, as the 2019 season started with a slow start of 1-3, and seemed to take the wind out of Eagle Nation’s sails. The start of August and the start of October felt as if Statesboro was the parallel for a “Tale of Two Cities.” It was the best of
times (August 1), it was the worst of times (October 1). But what has happened off the field was
several situations that provided a battle tougher than any defense. Just to provide an insight,
here is a compiled a list of all the unexpected twists that have affected the Eagles.
● The arrest, dropped charges, and national spotlight of Shai Werts
● The arrest of Quan Griffin
● The ineligible ruling of Wes Kennedy
● Hurricane Dorian
● The injuries of Brian Miller, Aaron Dowdell, Logan Wright, and others
● The passing of Jordan Wiggins
All of this, compounded on top of each other, is a lot for any team to endure in an entire season.
This all happened in the first six games. But through it all, the Eagles have soared above all, and currently they sit in the driver's seat of the Sun Belt East and, if victorious in their last four games, will have a shot at the Sun Belt championship. That’s what makes this team great.
And if you’re still hung up on the win column, there is still a chance to win not only 10 games, but even an 11th game, which would be an improvement, capping off a truly Blue Collar season.
Speaking on the whole situation surrounding Wiggins’ death, I do feel the need to give special
props to everyone involved in the community and program. As a student I have seen several
times in which the campus comes together, and this case was no different. One of the more
impactful moments was prior to the New Mexico State game, in which the clock was stopped at
the 78-minute mark, and a moment of silence was observed by players, staff, family, friends,
and fans. Folks arrived in the stadium early, and Paulson Stadium parking lot was silent as
Eagle Nation remembered the life of Jordan Wiggins.
The outpouring of support from everywhere across the college football landscape was tremendous. The member schools from the conference all showed their support, including our rival Appalachian State, and Coach Drinkwitz opened his press conference not talking about X’s and O’s, but the real life happenings that impact the many college kids who considered Wiggins both a teammate and friend. Georgia Tech sent a signed poster from their team, and Minnesota sent an oar (to complement their “Row The Boat” mantra) signed by the entire team.
To some, it may not seem like much, but bearing in mind these teams only have a set number of hours to practice each week, these minutes are valuable, and is just another example of how life is bigger than the game of football. No college kid should have to experience what these student-athletes are going through right now, so the brotherhood that is college football is a comforting resource for these players, as the other 20,000 students on Georgia Southern’s campus don’t live the life of a Division 1 football player.
Pele the great soccer legend once said, “The more difficult the victory, the greater the
happiness.” If that is true, then the victory of a successful season, whatever that may look like,
will bring great happiness to us all. Sure, last year was emotional for us fans, but that is
because we only saw the results on the field.
But the players and staff directly involved in the football program might argue that this year would be just as special. They have been tested in numerous ways, and that’s not including any opponent on the football field the team has faced.
So even though “great” may not look much different than “good,” what is going on behind the
scenes is building a strong foundation for the next few years. Normally I wouldn’t say that,
because that’s what folks usually say when they have mailed in the season and look to the
future, but this season is primed to end on a high note, at least as of the time of writing. The
bowl season is approaching rapidly, and wherever the Eagles might receive a bid to, you can
bet the team will be excited, emotional, and ready to fight for their brother Jordan Wiggins, and
to cap off a season that exemplifies how Eagles soar above the clouds.
My final thought: With bowl season upon us, if you have read my thoughts over the past year,
you are aware of my passion for traveling to Georgia Southern games. So this should come as
no suprise when I say that you should make a weekend trip to the bowl game, wherever the
team ends up. Orlando and New Orleans are the two destinations that sound fun, but the other
destinations of Montgomery and Mobile are just as fun and have attractions and culture unique
to them that make the trip special. So make the trip, and if you enjoy the sights, sounds, and
smells, the trip will be worth it, regardless of the game.