December 07, 2016
I was approached in late summer of 2009 about writing the weekly Tailgate Tattler column for Connect Statesboro. I accepted the offer without a second thought because as a die-hard, lifelong Georgia Southern fan, I figured writing about something I was so passionate about would come pretty easily. Plus, it promised some extra spending money and, at the time, I was in no financial position to turn down an opportunity to make a few extra bucks.
While I have very much enjoyed my time as your Tailgate Tattler, it’s time to pass the torch to someone else. I consider myself very fortunate to have had my thoughts published in print and online on an almost weekly basis because I know that is an opportunity very few people are afforded. The editors I have worked with have all been great. They have allowed me the flexibility to make this column pretty much whatever I want and have worked with me when print deadlines don’t quite fit the sports schedule.
I have tried to call things like I see them instead of just being a homer wearing blue-tinted glasses. There have been times I was very critical of Georgia Southern when I felt it was warranted. And sure, there were other times when I slipped into being a fan. And I won’t apologize for that because I am one.
We have celebrated championships and memorable performances. We have also suffered through heartbreaking losses and disappointing seasons. And on occasion, I strayed from sports when more important things needed to be addressed.
Then there was this one time I somehow got duped into writing a relationship advice piece for the Valentine’s Day edition of Connect. Yes, me…of all people. Maybe I should go back and re-read some of my own advice? Ha. Either way, my friends still give me a hard time about “the Dr. Love article.”
So much has changed in the time I have been writing this column. Georgia Southern has moved to the Sun Belt Conference as the football program (finally) made the jump to the FBS level. And the Eagles are on their fourth head football coach since I started in 2009. During that time, Southern enjoyed three consecutive trips to the FCS semi-finals (2010-2012), celebrated a historic win over Florida (2013), won the Sun Belt championship its first season in the league (2014), and dominated its first bowl appearance (2015 GoDaddy Bowl).
On the hardwood, Charlton Young had just taken over as head men’s basketball coach in the fall of 2009. He led the Eagles for four seasons before current coach Mark Byington took over. Longtime head women’s basketball coach Rusty Cram was beginning his 14th season at the helm. He would eventually be let go following the 2012-2013 season. Chris Vozab led the program for three years before current head coach Kip Drown took the job in 2015.
Eagle baseball head coach Rodney Hennon’s tenure outdates my Tattler career (he has been with the program since the 2000 season), but he has won three conference tournament championships since 2009. His 2014 team went on to knock off No. 5 national seed Florida State in NCAA Regional play.
In some ways, 2009 seems like an eternity ago. Georgia Southern is on its third president (fourth if you count Interim President Bartels) and second athletics director since then. But for me, it doesn’t seem like I have been writing this column for over seven years. The time has flown.
I am well aware Connect’s target audience is students. Sure, others read it, but much of the content is geared toward a younger crowd. Somehow, I’m 34 years old all of a sudden and becoming less and less in touch with that demographic. That’s really hard for me to admit because I feel like I’m still a part of that age group.
Not only am I not getting any younger, but sometimes in life you just realize your plate is too full. I have come to that realization lately. I’ll miss being able to put my thoughts on Georgia Southern athletics—and sometimes life in general—in writing each week. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to share my take on things for the last seven years and I appreciate you enjoying the ride with me.
I’ll leave you with a few parting thoughts that have been some recurring themes I have shared over the last several years.
Be good to each other. Help each other. Love each other. We’re all in this thing called life together.
Cherish your time in college—trust me, it goes by way too fast. You’ll miss it when it’s gone. Make it count.
Georgia Southern is a special, special place. Be proud of it and represent it well.
After you graduate, come back. Visit often. And give back if you can.
Finally, always remember Erk’s only rule: Do Right. If you follow that one, everything else should fall into place.
Thank you for reading for all these years. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
See you at the game, Eagle Nation!