Time flies when you’re having fun. Luckily for me, I added an extra football season’s worth of
time. OK, so I added two football seasons. I strategically planned to take an internship in the
spring to allow me to stretch my time at Georgia Southern to span four baseball seasons, five
basketball seasons, and six football seasons. Go ahead and judge me, but I have thoroughly
enjoyed every bit of my time in Statesboro. That being said, my time in the best city this side of
the Gnat Line, and honestly the best city in America in my humble opinion, is coming to a close.
I will finally get my degree from Georgia Southern in December, and then who knows where my
Eagle wings will take me.
Bearing that in mind, I have decided to take a different mindset each football and basketball
game this season, and that is this: Soak it in, take advantage of the special environment, and
never ever take an Eagle sporting event for granted.
As we have had two games at the time of writing, the Eagles find themselves 1-1 with a win
over the Maine Black Bears and a defeat at the hands of the LSU Tigers. But the games
themselves are just a component of the entire experience of game day that I truly enjoy. For a 6
p.m. kickoff, the parking lot at Paulson Stadium starts amping up around noon, although many
parties start happening long before that. The best possible activity is to go talk to people.
Everyone’s different tailgate includes different recipes, flairs, stories, soundtracks, and
atmospheres. Some folks have been in the same spot since Paulson Stadium was built, others
are young alumni rekindling their college days. Both equally as enjoyable, but both with two
completely separate feels. Do it right, and you can parlay this conglomerate into a full stomach
accompanied by a full coverage of all the matinee college football games.
Finally, two hours before kickoff, masses fill the middle row of the Paulson parking lot in
anticipation for the yellow school buses. Not unlike a group of children rushing to meet Santa in
the window, Eagle fans will be clapping, cheering, and honking horns awaiting the team to
arrive. Meanwhile, back on Chandler Road, the buses pass by GATA Nation and GATA Row,
where smoke bombs, always of the blue color, fill the air. A few hundred yards down the road,
Sigma Chi brothers and guests are stacked up in the back of trucks with a wholesale amount of
champagne ready to pop when the buses roll by. Upon passing, the team is showered with
bottles of Andre and other cheap champagne that on a college budget honestly tastes pretty
good. Finally, the team makes its final approach into the parking spot, and the crowd goes
crazy. I can’t imagine how cool it must be for a 20-year-old student athlete to come off that bus
after singing the valley song and seeing all those fans, myself included, so excited to see them.
Personally, my hand hurts from high-fiving everyone that comes down my line in the walk, but
man it fires me up for the rest of the day.
Once in Paulson, the Southern Pride Marching Band really gets the juices flowing, especially
hearing the lone trumpeter belt out Georgia On My Mind. Follow that up with Freedom’s Flight,
and the entire stadium collectively gets chills. I even had a Maine fan tell me “that was worth the
flight and travel to Georgia right there.” Freedom definitely takes his own path each time from
the top of the press box down to the goal line. Every now and then that flight path will stretch all
the way out over Lanier Drive and out over the parking lot and behind Eagle Field.
The in-game atmosphere is always electric, with the students and Southern Pride buzzing right
above the visiting sidelines creating a tension on the opposing team’s sidelines that makes it
difficult for a road team to win in Paulson. Big plays from the stable of running backs that include
Logan Wright, JD King, Matthew Laroache, and hopefully soon return from different reasons,
Shai Werts and Wes Kennedy. One piece of analysis that I will give is that Justin Tomlin has
really made a name for himself in Shai’s absence due to an injury sustained in the LSU game.
Tomlin looked poised and composed in the pocket and backfield against a very stout defensive
front in Baton Rouge, and was not afraid to take a hit against Maine. In fact, I was blown away
with his effort and his aggression to hit a hole once he commits to keeping the ball.
After the game ends, the parking lot party doesn’t pack up and end, but rather kicks it up a
notch. Several of the groups of tailgates actually fire the grill up once again, and crank the TVs
up for the second half of the primetime game on ABC. Some groups even have DJs and bands
that crank up the volume and let it be known across the entire parking lot where the party is at.
Overall, a great Georgia Southern game day isn’t just a 60-minute football game, but can stretch
as long as 12 hours from start to end, and ultimately leave us longing for the next home game in
So I encourage you to take a Saturday to come experience a full game day at Georgia Southern.
Come be a part of the Eagle Walk. Meet new people, they will be more than happy to welcome
you into their tailgate and socialize. Finally, make sure you stay from the start of the Southern
Pride routine until after the team has sung the alma mater. I can assure you it will be worth your
time, and is not something to take for granted, because like myself, there will be thousands of
Georgia Southern students that will deeply miss the opportunity to take in one more football