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Checking the chilly temp at Paulson


November 06, 2017

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The dictionary defines the word tattle as “idle talk.” If that’s the case, I truly fit the mold of a Tailgate Tattler. My name is Chandler Avery, and I am proud to take over the reins of this column that I have read since my freshman year at Georgia Southern. Approximately 15 months ago I found myself having to repeat the answer to the same questions regarding the NCAA’s investigation into Georgia Southern, so I decided to write an in-depth answer to the situation, and posting it on some thrown-together Word Press site I made. After sending the post to folks, mainly family, I started to realize that I enjoyed writing about Georgia Southern, and wanted to continue to do so. I never had any intention of anything coming from my blog posts, but it was something I continued out of the sheer purpose of pleasure, and hope to continue for the foreseeable future.

Flash forward to this October, and the best part of the year in homecoming has quickly arrived. This was my fourth homecoming as a student, and having run for homecoming duke in the past, I was quite familiar and excited for all the festivities. Friday afternoon rolled around and for the third year in a row I found myself on a float in the parade around Sweetheart Circle, throwing out T-shirts and waving to all of the students, faculty and friends. It always is a fun day, as classes are cancelled after noon on the Friday the duke, duchess and homecoming court are announced, and folks gear up for the homecoming football game. But there was one comment that a family made that I happened to overhear Friday afternoon.

“This parade and party is really nice. It begins to take our minds off the football game at least for a few hours.”

To hear this quote made me stop in my tracks, and I began to say something, but could only stop and observe the people around me who all felt the same way. When you search the history of the tradition of homecoming, you will find that the idea and tradition started in 1911 at the University of Missouri, and was based around the football game they were playing. The original purpose of this event was to reignite, or rather build the momentum around the football team, and that is not what I was seeing this week.

On Saturday, I woke up bright and early, just as I do on every game day, ready to rock and roll. The tailgate breakfast of eggs, sausage, grilled biscuits, and mimosas were ready to be served as Lee Corso and the ESPN College Gameday crew signed on from James Madison. There was some excitement when Corso picked Georgia Southern as his Saturday Superdog, and the ESPN crew highlighted our Erk Russell alternate jerseys, but still the dull grey skies ultimately summed up the mood in the early morning.

I was looking forward to heading to True GSU and Woody’s Shirts and Scrubs, where Adrian Peterson, Jayson Foster and Terry Harvin all were signing autographs and having a meet-and-greet with fans. It was really cool to see some of the memorabilia folks brought in for these Eagle greats to sign, including one fan who brought a Foster jersey from his times at both the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens. Being able to see a good showing of Eagle Nation, both young and old, gave me some hope of the turnout being at least respectable regardless of the worst start for Georgia Southern since 1941. Much to my chagrin however, I was under-impressed at the turnout in the Paulson parking lot.

The Avery tailgate spot has been spots 39-41 in rows L and M. That has been the case ever since I was born, and before Georgia Southern even marked the spots with letters and numbers. If there’s one thing I can count on, it is these spots being occupied four hours prior to game time, as it was on Saturday. The same could not be said for our tailgate neighbors, and several of the parties around us, as the parking lot was green in the vast majority of the spaces. I won’t go out and say it was as empty as the Wednesday night ESPN matchup against the Red Wolves of Arkansas State, but it was without a doubt the worst Saturday turnout for a game in a long time. But, just like every other game day, the police sirens grew louder and the True Blue lined the center walkway, where the team, wearing the alternate jerseys, began their passage from the yellow school bus to Paulson Stadium. The different was the lack of effort it took for me to get up close to the team. The lack of enthusiasm, though certainly justified, was apparent in the fans.

As usual, I made my way up the hill into Paulson just before the team made their grand entrance, and worked my way to the covered seats, more commonly known to Eagle Nation as the Beer Garden. There I found yet another Eagle legend, Joe Ross. Now for those of you who aren’t as versed in Georgia Southern football history, Joe Ross is currently the fourth-highest rusher in Georgia Southern history, accumulating more than 3,875 yards along with two national titles. Joe stood the entire first half with me and my father, conversing about everything from the weather to the current state of Georgia Southern athletics. I thought it was the coolest thing to be able to just chat it up with such a great athlete, and an even better person. Situations like that serve as reminders of just how cool it is to be a part of Eagle Nation.

The result of the game, as many of you know, was not what we True Blue wanted, and we were hard-pressed to find a positive takeaway, unless you consider the idea that the Eagles “won” the first half. It looks gloomy moving ahead to the gauntlet of Georgia State, App State, South Alabama and Louisiana (formerly Louisiana-Lafayette), all staring down the Eagles in the month of November, but to takeaway a positive, Eagle basketball is about to kick up!

Anyhow, I am looking forward to this adventure with Connect Statesboro, as well as all of you wonderful readers, and just remember what Erk Russell once said: “Do, Right.”

 


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