Follow the Leader
By BJ Bennett
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As Georgia Southern chases their seventh championship, they will continue to have to play their way to national prominence.
As debate regarding a college football playoff rages on, a prime example of just how to conduct such a tournament was recently on clear display in towns all across the country. While much of the nation continued to wonder how close we are to a postseason format, tens of thousands of others had a bird's eye view. The right answer was showcased in Missoula, Montana, Huntsville, Texas, Fargo, North Dakota and Statesboro, Georgia over the weekend. There college football wasn't debated, it was flat out decided.
This past weekend Division I did showcase a playoff system, albeit at the FCS level. Teams, conjecture aside, fought for their national stature and for advancement. The only should's and could's coming from the losers were sandwiched between "we" and "have played better". Arguments for inclusion stopped once the game started. Winners stood on their own merit as they moved one step closer to a national championship.
SouthernPigskin.com spent Saturday afternoon at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro. There Jeff Monken's Georgia Southern Eagles advanced on to the FCS semifinals with a 35-23 victory over visiting Maine from the Colonial Athletic Association. The meeting offered a unique clash of styles as the Black Bears, fresh off a win over Appalachian State, had little familiarity with the triple-option offense.
The Eagles are now back to the national final four. Last season GSU fell one game short of the finals with a loss at Delaware. The Eagles must now rally to prepare for talented North Dakota State. Such is the whirlwind a playoff system presents. As Georgia Southern chases their seventh championship, they will continue to have to play their way to national prominence.
Critics of a playoff system point to the toll it would take on the student-athlete; players at Georgia Southern will return to classes on Monday. Some, obviously not aware of the passion in the stands this weekend, point to a lack of interest; meanwhile bowl ticket sales are sluggish. Unique matchups, compelling games and fluid progression; at the FCS level, this is March Madness with winter gloves.