Sunday, November 24, 2013

Was Saturday the greatest win in Georiga Southern History?

Georgia Southern celebrates its win over Florida, 26-20

The question was being asked even before the ball stopped moving after being knocked down at the goal line. Was Georgia Southern’s 26-20 win over Florida the greatest win in the school’s history?

Just the fact that the question is being asked tells you two things. First, that it was a really big win for the Eagles, and second, the team has a lot of monumental wins if a win over the Gators in the Swamp is not indisputably the greatest win the program’s history. For a lot of schools, especially an FCS (1-AA for those like me who refuse to give in to the NCAA’s rebranding efforts) school, a win over an SEC opponent would be the starting and ending point for the discussion of greatest wins.

But we’re not talking about just any 1-AA team. We’re talking about a team that has six national titles to its credit. We’re talking about a team that had the first 15-0 season in NCAA history and capped off the historic season by winning the national title on their home field that, 24 years later, is still the largest crowd in the stadium’s history. We’re talking about a team that has won back-to-back national titles three separate times and has been in the national championship game eight times. So it’s not as clear cut as it would be for other schools.

I see two schools of thought when it comes to intercollegiate athletics and which side of the fence you fall on will likely color your belief on where the Eagles' win falls on the list of greatest wins.

For those who believe that intercollegiate athletics is the “front porch” of a university – that is, it’s the first thing prospective students see of a school – Saturday’s win is without a doubt the greatest in school history. It was one of the major storylines of the day on all the sports networks. It was the kind of advertising for the school that would take millions of dollars to purchase if the marketing department were to try to get that kind of national exposure. It was all over social media. People were talking about Georgia Southern.

The “front porch” population (which, based on my incredibly unscientific observations seems to be the vast majority of fans) point to the mentions on ESPN and CBS about the win and can conclusively say the Eagles have never received this kind of attention. And they’d be correct. Even when they won a national title, they didn’t get the kind of coverage they got for a regular season win over Florida.

Where I disagree with this line of thinking is it equates media attention with significance. Yes, the Eagles were all over the news. People who didn’t know Georgia Southern existed now do because they beat an SEC team. But by using media attention to determine greatest win, you’re saying exposure is the primary reason to play the games.

I believe I’m in the minority of Georgia Southern fans who believe Saturday’s win is, at best, the seventh-greatest win in the program’s history, falling behind the six national titles.  I don’t believe any players set out at the beginning of the season with their ultimate goal being to win a regular season game, no matter who the opponent is. The goal is to win titles, be it conference titles or national titles, you play the game because you want to be the best. Not just the best in a single game, but the best team in the country. Six times the Eagles have achieved the ultimate goal of being the best team in their division.

As they move up to 1-A in 2014, the goal is presumably going to be the same – to be the best team in their division. The opportunities may not be there as often as they were in a division that now invites 24 teams to the playoffs (as opposed the four-team format that will be in place next year for 1-A), but the goal to be the best team should still be there.

I have no doubts that Georgia Southern will have photos of their win over Florida in its marketing materials it sends to students for the next few years. They’d be crazy not to.  And from the marketing and recruitment standpoint, Saturday’s win may be the greatest in school history.

But I doubt there will be a banner added to the six that already hang to represent the championships. I doubt there will be anything added to the stadium to commemorate the win over Florida. In the stadium where the games are played, the only things commemorated are conference and national titles, not regular season wins.

Your view of the role of intercollegiate athletics will likely determine where you would rank the Eagles most recent victory. For me, I’d rather have six national titles than six wins over 1-A opponents during Georgia Southern’s tenure in 1-AA. But I won’t argue if you have a different perspective.

Just the fact it’s being considered as possibly the greatest win in school history is enough for me to know it was a huge win.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

57 Channels and Nothing On

I blame Netflix mostly. Some of the blame can go to PBS, but primarily Netflix.

What do I blame them for? I’m glad you asked.

But I didn’t ask, I mistakenly clicked here thinking this was a terrible Monty Python tribute site and just started reading.

I blame them for my inability to watch normal television anymore.

Wait, didn’t you give up cable years ago? And don’t ask how I know this about you after accidentally coming to your site. Of course I don’t work for the NSA, why do you ask?

Like the crazy italicized guy said, (Hey, what’d I do?) we gave up cable years ago, and with it, the magical device that is the DVR. Instead, we opted for a mix of Netflix, Hulu, a digital antenna and for our tele-visual entertainment wishes. It’s been great as I’ve found more and more interesting shows to watch instead settling for a rerun of NCIS or whatever else is on cable.

So other than sports, I’ve pretty much given up on watching commercials. And at least with the NFL I know I can count on about a six minute break with only a kickoff (and most likely, a touchback) interrupting the barrage of beer and truck ads so I can go do something productive around the house.

Well last night, my wife didn’t want to watch what I was watching on Netflix …

What was it?

That’s not important.

I’ve made it this far, you might as well tell me.

Ok, my wife didn’t want to watch Raising Hope and decided she’d see what was on one of our over-the-air channels. She quickly settled on The Voice where we saw a terrible performance of a song I’ve already forgotten followed by about five minutes of banter about Adam Levine being named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”

Oh, my girlfriend thinks he’s so hot.

Thanks for that, crazy italicized guy. Anyway, after that they cut to a commercial and I just looked at my wife and sighed. “You’ve given up on regular tv, haven’t you?”

“Pretty much,” I responded. By that time I’d finished uploading a few photos onto Facebook…

Hey, let’s be Facebook friends

I’d finished uploading the photos and my wife said “oh, you’re done. You can watch what you want, I’m going to play on Pinterest.” So I returned to watching Raising Hope (Snort, oh, sorry.)

I don’t care what you say, I like it. So I went back to my blissful commercial-free viewing and I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to “regular” tv again.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The one person most responsible for my wife being a baseball fan

LaTroy Hawkins signed yesterday with the Colorado Rockies. This isn’t all that big a deal (well, other than the fact that he’ll be 41 at the start of next season and still playing in the Big Leagues). But I think I can trace my wife’s embrace of baseball directly to Mr. Hawkins.

When we first started dating, my wife tolerated baseball. She knew I enjoyed it and made the effort to like what I liked. But I don’t think she enjoyed it. It was just something she had to put up with to date me and for whatever reason, she was willing to do it.

In 2004 we went to a Braves/Cubs game in Atlanta and Hawkins was playing for Chicago. She didn’t understand why, but I wanted to get there early and watch batting practice and see the Cubs warm up as well as the chance to get a few batting practice home run balls when the crowd isn’t so big.

So we’re in the left field bleachers about two hours before the game and suddenly the players she’s only seen on television become real to my wife. “There’s that guy. There’s that other guy.” Players that until recently had only been people on the screen were now real. She’s genuinely excited.

And then, Hawkins starts tossing a few balls into the stands. He eventually makes eye contact with my wife and tosses her a ball. At this point she’s beyond excited. A major league player tossed her a ball.

That was it, from then on she was a fan. Even when Hawkins started to, how can I say this nicely…, when he started to suck, my wife still liked him because he gave her that ball.

Hawkins eventually left the Cubs after about a season and a half, but his contribution to my happiness by making my wife a baseball fan lives on. So good luck, LaTroy, in Colorado and thanks for your little gesture that’s made a big impact in my life.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Letters to Cleo

My five-year old loves geography. Like seriously loves it. He was putting his United States puzzle together when he was three and shortly before he just turned five he was able to identify the state just by me saying the capital city for each one. He's got a world map on his wall to help him learn different countries. He's wanted to read the atlas that came with a world map puzzle instead of stories before going to bed. 

Knowing this about him, my sister-in-law has sent him postcards from Salt Lake City and from New Orleans during the conferences she's gone to the past few months. My son was beyond excited to not only get mail, but to get postcards from different states.

So tonight I had an idea. I wonder if I could get him postcards from all 50 states. And by “I could get him,” I really mean “friends online mail them to him.”

I realize that I can’t really be picky when asking friends (or internet friends, or even friends of internet friends) in this endeavor, but should you choose to help me out here, he’d love one that highlighted whatever state you’re sending it from, such as a map of the state or something symbolizing your state (like Mt. Rushmore, for example.)

If you’d like to help me out, please contact me either on twitter (@lukermartin) or email ( and I’ll get you the relevant information (our address, his name, ect.) thanks in advance.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Don't Know Much About History

I failed a history test yesterday.

In my defense, I haven’t been to class all semester - or even this decade. In fact, I haven’t been in a history class since the turn of the century. But the fact is, I failed. I freely admit I got a 64 on the test, which covered roughly the years 1800 to 1835.

So why am I taking a history test? Boredom and curiosity mostly.

I had some downtime at work on Thursday and one of the professors on campus had mentioned that he was giving his students a test that day. I thought it would interesting, and possibly humiliating, to see how I’d do on an era of history that I have long since stopped thinking about. Except for the HBO series on John Adams, I’m not sure I’ve read or watched anything on this era since I last studied it in school sometime in 1999 or 2000.

The test was a 50-question, multiple choice test so just by guessing I should have gotten a 20. (There were five potential answers for each question.)

There were a few things on the test I actually remembered learning in school, such as Eli Whitney inventing the cotton gin or Robert Fulton inventing the steam engine. Ok, I wouldn’t have gotten Fulton correct if it was a fill-in-the-blank test, but seeing his name triggered the knowledge of what he invented.

But I had no clue why Andrew Jackson wanted to kill the Bank of the US in 1832 or what the name of the scandal involving Jackson’s Secretary of War and the recently widowed Peggy O’Neal was called. I didn’t even know there was a Federalist meeting at the end of the War of 1812 where they threatened to secede from the US over the war let alone what the meeting was called. I also had no idea what the Tallmadge Amendment of 1820 was, though now I know that it’s what the Missouri Compromise attempted to address.

I’m slightly disappointed I only got a 64 on the test. Going it, I was kind of hoping for at least a 70, but I knew that was a lofty goal. And who knows, maybe I’ll take another test from another professor in a different subject and see how I do on that one. To be honest, it was kind of fun taking the test and challenging myself that way. In related news, I need to reexamine my definition of fun.