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Shock over resignation
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Many in Statesboro and points beyond — including here in Bryan County — where shocked Tuesday when the school announced that after only one season at the helm, football coach Brian VanGorder had decided to leave for a job with the Atlanta Falcons.
But for many among the school’s fickle fan base, it wasn’t exactly bad news — though the timing of VanGorder’s departure, only a few weeks before signing day, was cause for concern. Given the importance of recruiting to college football programs, that’s understandable.
Still, there’s a sense among many of relief and even joy that VanGorder is gone. And that’s also understandable, given the highly-touted coach’s prickly public persona and what appeared to be his disregard for many of the traditions established over a quarter of a century. Georgia Southern’s football program, after all, isn’t ordinary. No other school in its classification has been as dominant, as the Eagles six NCAA I-AA national titles clearly attest. Indeed, Georgia Southern fired former coach Mike Sewak after an 8-4 season to open the door for VanGorder. He promptly dismantled the school’s trademark option offense and the Eagles sputtered to a 3-8 record, the worst since Georgia Southern restarted football in 1982.
As recently as last week, VanGorder seemed intent on staying to finish what he started and, in fairness, there’s some evidence he improved the team’s academic record – which was apparently an issue under the previous coaching staff.
But instead, VanGorder packed his bags. Now, it’s up to GSU Athletic Director Sam Baker, who should be feeling some heat for hiring VanGorder in the first place, to find the right coach to lead a proud program back to national prominence. The school, its alumni and its fans deserve no less.
The Bryan County News
Jan. 18, 2007
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