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April 13, 2007

Georgia State to Launch Football Program?

Reeves happily considering a fullback dive. (Image: AJC)

What in the blue hell are the Georgia State people smoking? Ga. State announced yesterday that they have hired Dan Reeves to consult with the school on the feasibility and approach to launching a football program.

As Dawgnoxious said upon hearing the news:
Tech is going to hate to be the second best team in Atlanta. I thought GSU should focus on basketball like Georgetown but I guess they think they know better.
Tech can't consistently fill at 55k seat stadium to watch Div I / ACC football. And now, the Atlanta community is going to embrace Div I-AA football played in the 80k seat cavernous Georgia Dome?
Per the AP: Georgia State, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, would become the eighth member of the conference to play football on the Division I-AA level. The Panthers are at least three years away from fielding a team, which would initially play home games in the Georgia Dome.
If you take the aspirational long view, you could say that an urban commuter school with little to no student affinity to the program should invest in football to create a sense of community around the institution. That was certainly the view that Alabama's President Denny took shortly after taking the job in 1912, and it worked for them athletically and academically. (Although there was nothing Urban or Commuter about Tuscaloosa in 1912)

But what is the modern model for proven success to an urban commuter school? USF, UAB, FAU and UCF? Hardly.

It'll be interesting to see what sort of reaction the business and sports community give Reeves and the Ga. State program in the coming months.



Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

The main obstacles to UAB generating serious interest for its football program have been pre-existing loyalties in the area to Alabama and Auburn. But with GSU it would be even worse -- not only are they competing with the already rabid fan bases of UGA and Tech, they've also got to contend with the numerous other programs such as Auburn and Florida that have big alum presence(s) in Atlanta, PLUS an NFL franchise, which Birmingham doesn't have.

And UAB is at least a D-IA program, so we can get some pub by playing at least one or two name-brand D-IA programs every season, which GSU won't be able to do.

Honestly, I'd try to start a football program at Columbus State before I tried to start one at GSU.

Tommy said...

Long-term, the logic is fairly simple. Unless you're Buffalo, college football is spectacularly profitable and it does more to raise a school's profile than anything besides renaming it Harvard. And, for a school looking to be more than where Atlantans get nighttime JDs and MBAs, it's great for visibility.
But to be profitable and visible, that takes us to the short-term: building a following, which means making people give a damn. For the reasons Doug mentioned, that's going to be hard. As easy as it is to deride what pass for football traditions, that's far more interesting than the synthetic base from which GSU will be starting. I think Dan Reeves makes things interesting, both because of who he is and by how much he'll likely shorten the ramp to the first upset.
I dunno. It's dodgy as hell, but Atlanta's a big town and there's plenty of corporate dollars in Atlanta to solicit, so who knows.

Tommy said...

Edit: my comment about football traditions was incomplete. I was comparing Tech to GSU.

Anonymous said...

Portland State would be a pretty good model. Now if they can just lure Jerry and Mouse away.....

Anonymous said...

I think the idea is a great for several reasons.

GSU has rapidly become more than a commuter school. This has occurred for a handful of reasons. First, GSU has made proactive approaches to recruit traditional students. Further, they are attempting to create a campus environnment in downtown Atlanta. This is evidenced by the sale of the Olympic Village and the construction of massive dorms on campus. Plans exist for even more dorms in the downtown campus in the very near future. Also, for students who want to go to a public research university, after UGA and Tech, GSU is the obvious choice. With metropolitan Atlanta's burgeoning population, more and more kids will be attending GSU. Creating a football team creates the sense of being a "real" state college, and will further their efforts.

Second, Georgia is one of the most fertile grounds for the growth of young football players. But these players have relatively few in-state options. There are only 3 Division 1/1AA teams. (At this point I do concede that schools like Valdosta State have excellent lower division programs). If you look at the rosters of out of state 1-AA teams, they are littered with Georgia kids. If GSU can snatch up a portion of that talent they will rapidly become a force in the world of 1-AA football. They will be successful in getting those kids for three reasons; location, location, location. UGA occasionally loses talent to Tech for this very reason. Young kids, especially African Americans, see Atlanta as the place to be. With all this in mind I feel that Georgia State has a fighting chance for success.

UGA Grad
GSU Law Student

Anonymous said...

I don't think there would be much competition with Tech for a fan base. Tech fans typically turn their nose up at anyone who hasn't had two semesters of calculus and then wonder why they can't fill a stadium.

A better comparison might be Villanova. Philly certainly has no shortages of colleges nearby with the Big Five, plenty of loyalties to go around, competition from pro ball, and even a general disinterest in college football. Villanova isn't going to become Penn State, but that isn't their goal...they are simply a decent 1-AA program which is all GaState would aim to be.

Building on Dawgphan42's comment, the program that might be worried in the long run is Georgia Southern. Right now it's the top option in the area for the prospects who slip through the 1-A sieve, and to be honest, it's vulnerable now with some shaky management recently. It's not what it once was. If they can do things right at State in building the program, selling Atlanta vs. Statesboro shouldn't be very hard.

Of course building the following will be tough, but there are enough transplants and area college students to start something. Playing in front of 2,500 in the Dome won't help though.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to point out that I don't think that GSU is looking to start out using the dome. I have heard rumors of both B.T Harvey Stadium at Morehouse and the Grady High School Stadium as initial options. Further, GSU owns property in the eastern part of the city with possibilities. I think the dome is a goal, but I wouldn't use it until 75% of the lower level seats could be filled.

Anonymous said...

If Georgia State wants to create a sense of community around the institution, it will need to build its own stadium near campus.

That means working through its alumni base to find their version(s) of Allen Paulsen or T. Boone Pickens.

Playing its games in a largely empty and expensive 75,000 seat dome or at CAU or Morehouse will do nothing to create a sense of community around the institution.

Georgia State also needs to better link its traditional campus with its growing presence in the Farlie-Poplar district. More student housing in the upper floors will help. Its layout and architecture has the potential to become a student hangout after dark, particularly along Broad Street. It will probably not be on an Athens-scale but certainly better than anything at Tech.

With most of the the big banks, consulting firms, and law firms having moved to Midtown, the property has become reasonably affordable. If Georgia State can create a well-lighted landscaped corridor to the area and an easily identifiable landmark, it will help create their sense of community around the institution.

The Villanova model is probably not the best model to use as it already had a historic campus and a stadium in a smaller community in the suburbs. Most Philadelphians don't identify with Villanova as they think it is elitist.

I believe a better model would be a combination of Georgia Southern and Minnesota. Use the Georgia Southern model for getting the big name (like Erk) and the benefactor (like Paulsen) and starting at a reasonable scale. Use Minnesota for the painful lessons-learned when they moved off campus into a downtown dome and for the work they are now doing in building an on-campus stadium in an urban area.

I wish them the best.

- Tom

Anonymous said...

I recently transfered from GSU to UGA. I enjoyed my time there but am much happier being at a more traditional school. At GSU, I got the feeling from both the students and employees that they had no real pride in being at the school. I saw more UGA and GT apparel than I did GSU. I believe a football program, even a D-1AA team, would help the school tremendously. It will give students something to take pride in and ultimately be very profitable for the school. In the South, football is king and at a major university such as GSU, a football program is a necessity. A suggestion for the stadium issue: I have also heard that GSU owned property and could possibly build a multi-purpose facility such as a Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Tech has already tryed to get them on there schedule

Anonymous said...

I really like the idea.

the deep South is football country. The publicity this has already given GSU prooves the point. GSU is a seriuos school that badly need identity. I would say lets do it and plan on going to 1A in several the Tech fans get a bit antsy is 5-7 years. Hiring Dan Reeved is super. Let him coach for 3-5 years and turn it over to someone else.

Anonymous said...

From what I have read in the recent news, football at Ga State has gained popularity and become a very feasible possibility. I'm a GSU student, and like others have said before me, GSU lacks a sense of "community". Tech and UGA t-shirts are more common than anything with GSU's logo, combined. A football program would be the means for change to occur. Thus, adding a football team would not only profit and gain publicity for the school, but it would certainly give something to cheer for to students like me.

Unknown said...

Oh, btw, GSU has raised 1.2 million privately in 6 months and just today, the SGA approved the fee increase for football. I am part of the alumni group (First Team) that helped get this ship sailing and people in this city better take note cause its a done deal folks! Laugh now all you want but you have no idea how excited current students and alumni like myself are about this.

Anonymous said...

It looks like other schools without football are looking to follow Georgia State’s lead in starting up a football program. There is a group out in California trying to bring back football to Cal State Fullerton. They even have a website that makes mention of using Georgia State’s success as a blueprint to reinstate their football program.

Georgia State Provides the Blueprint to Bring Back Titan Football

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