GSU-Alabama game day

Greetings, all

Hope you’re all geeked up for this evening. Sorry I didn’t post Wednesday. Been a little busy. I’m very, very interested to see how this game shakes out. I can assure you that the team is ready to see how it stacks up.

A few notes and soundbites and I’ve got to start heading to Tuscaloosa.

1. I talked to George Pugh, the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, about playing at Alabama for Bear Bryant. This has nothing really to do with Georgia State, but I just thought it was a pretty good story.

Pugh said that when he was a high school senior in East Montgomery, he committed to Auburn at a party that was thrown for him, as I understand it, to celebrate being named an All-American. I guess that would have been late 1971. Pugh, who was also being recruited by Alabama, said he got caught up in the moment.

A day or two later, when he was getting ready to go out for his paper route, Pugh said he heard a knock at the door. It was Bryant and a slew of assistant coaches, who’d gotten word that he had committed.

“That was the longest walk of my life to open the door,” Pugh said.

In came Bryant and his assistants, who asked Pugh’s parents if he could delay his route to talk with him.

Said Pugh, “I think I must have lost 10 pounds that morning.”

Bryant made his pitch and left and Pugh and his parents began talking about what he was going to do, and then Bryant knocked again at the door.

Pugh: “He came in and he told my mom and dad, there was one thing he wanted to tell me. My mom said, ‘Well, come on in. What is it?’ He said, ‘George, I want you to know this. We can win with you or we can win without you.’ And he left.

“Coach Bryant was the master motivator. He knew by telling me that that I would say, ‘You know what? I’m going to prove to this guy that I can play for the University of Alabama.’ Sure enough, that changed my mind.”

After that, Pugh said he got death threats and his house got egged, presumably by Auburn fans. He said never in his life was he as scared as he was then.

But he had no regrets and that de-committing to Auburn and committing to Alabama was one of the best decisions he has ever made.

I have to say, Pugh’s love and passion for Alabama and Bryant runs pretty deep. You can hear it in his voice as he talks about the Alabama mystique and tradition. He still keeps in touch with Bryant’s son Paul Jr. and Mal Moore, Alabama’s athletic director who was an assistant to Bryant.

As I wrote in the notes, much of the story of the game is Bill Curry going back to Alabama, and rightfully so. For Pugh, his connection runs far deeper, though. Pugh said he’s been there twice before as a coach, with Texas A&M and Houston. Both teams lost.

Said Pugh, “Maybe the third time is the charm.”

2. At the Tuesday press conference, guard Joe Gilbert was asked if he really believed that Georgia State could win. His answer in full:

“I didn’t come to college to play football and lose. I’ll say it like that I’ve seen crazier things happen. We’ve got a good game plan in this week.

I think drew’s going to pass the ball. Parris (Lee) and Travis (Evans) and all the rest of our running backs are going to run it. And then let’s see if Kalan (Jenkins) is going to stop the Heisman winner (Alabama running back Mark Ingram). I think if all that happens, we’ll be alright”

As you might have guessed, everyone laughed when Gilbert mentioned Jenkins, who was sitting two seats over from Gilbert, not to make fun of Jenkins, but because it’s just kind of crazy to consider. Think about this – two years ago, Jenkins walked on at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. He was not recruited and even switched positions from defensive end to tight end just to get a chance to play. He ended up starting for two years and came to Georgia State as a tight end. After spring practice, he was switched back to defense because the line was so thin. Curry said from day one, Jenkins has been one of the best leaders he’s ever coached.

Tonight, he’ll be lined up against either left tackle James Carpenter and right tackle Alfred McCullough. Both outweigh Jenkins by about 50 pounds. McCullough was one of the top recruits in Alabama coming out of high school and Carpenter is a likely NFL draft pick next spring. And if he can get away from them, he’ll have to tackle last year’s Heisman Trophy winner.

Jenkins: “They’re big guys. They’re a lot better than the guys that we’ve seen all year. I’m just looking forward to it. You always want to see where you are as a player. Games like this, playing the defending national champions, guys of this caliber, this is where you put yourself on that scale of how good you think you are and how good you really are.”

3. As I mentioned in the notes, linebacker Olufemi Opanubi and punter Bo Schlechter will play. Opanubi, you might remember, was supposed to be out for the season after surgery Nov. 1 to repair a partially torn meniscus.

I chatted with Schlechter at Tuesday’s practice at the Georgia Dome. He was tossing around the idea of proposing to Erin Andrews, who will be on the sidelines for ESPN. He was wondering what would happen if he grabbed a microphone (not sure where he’d find one, but, hey, it’s his dream) on the field and proposed.

I’m not sure what the bigger upset would be – Georgia State winning or Andrews accepting.

4. I was a little surprised at how much it meant to Curry that ESPN has sent its team of Curry that ESPN has sent its team of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Andrews to call the game. Curry said he was in a “state of shock.”

My guess is part of the reason they’re on this game because they have to be in Chicago Friday for the Northwestern-Illinois game on Saturday (which is being played at Wrigley Field), and it’ll be easier to get there from Alabama than from Seattle, where Washington is playing UCLA Thursday night in the main ESPN game. But I’m going to guess that Curry’s presence has something to do with it as well. I don’t think I need to ask anyone up there to guess the esteem people there have for him.

Curry called his former broadcast partners “wonderful, sincere people” and said he was grateful that they’ll be in Tuscaloosa.

5. My take on the game: I hope Georgia State can do some things – move the ball, force some punts, play hard for 60 minutes – that can be built upon in seasons to come. I’d like to see if some of the better players – Drew Little, Dan Williams, Jake Muasau, etc.  – can make some plays.

I wrote a story for Thursday talking to a few guys who’d been through massive blowouts and it was interesting how valuable they found the experience for a variety of reasons.

First, they talked about how thrilling it was to play in that kind of environment and to test themselves against the best.

Second, they were so stung by the score that they became determined to never let it happen again. It’s amazing to me that Cincinnati could lose 81-0 to Penn State in 1991 and then in the last game of its season nearly beat East Carolina, which that year went 11-1 and won the Peach Bowl.

It makes me buy more into the notion that, rather than being a total outlier game, this could have value down the road for Georgia State.

“It was one of those things where it was such an embarrassing, miserable defeat that, if you didn’t quit and you fought and battled through that experience, you can fight and battle through anything,” said John Arena, a captain and guard on that Cincinnati team.

6. I’ll give Curry the final word:

“If something bad happens to us, if we get knocked in the dirt Thursday night, we will get up off the ground and we will come back again and again and again until they blow the whistle to let us know that the game is over. And only then will we stop trying.”

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32 comments Add your comment


November 18th, 2010
10:26 am

Am I first?!?!?!?!


November 18th, 2010
10:45 am

Geeked up doesn’t describe it! Only 3 hours until I get in the car!!

Fire Rodney Ho

November 18th, 2010
10:47 am

10-0 after 1, 24-6 after 2, 38-6 after 3, 41-13 final.

Fire Rodney Ho


November 18th, 2010
10:52 am

Geeked up!! Alabama will knock the pocket protectors off of State in the the first quarter. State’s best bet is to give wedgies to the Crimson Tide.


November 18th, 2010
10:52 am

Comcast Ch 883 HI DEF.

downtown Atlanta + college football = CRAZY DELICIOUS!!!

November 18th, 2010
11:11 am

Pocket protectors? You’re confusing GSU with that school in Midtown.


November 18th, 2010
11:19 am

I’m gonna go ahead and call an upset (:


November 18th, 2010
11:44 am

@ Fire Rodney Ho: If that happens I’ll be more than thrilled.

Play your hearts out guys! You have about 10 months before you have to play another game so make it memorable (in a good way)!!!

Ken Sugiura

November 18th, 2010
12:33 pm

congrats, times2.
enjoy the game, all. hopefully getting on the road soon.


November 18th, 2010
12:35 pm

52-28…Little will air some out and Evans will come to play.


November 18th, 2010
12:35 pm

About to leave for Tuscaloosa. Obviously, would love a win-of-the-century moment, but know it unlikely. Still, it is an honor to end the first season playing on some of American college football’s most historic and “hallowed ground,” televised by ESPN and with a “first string” broadcast team.

The Panthers and Coach Curry deserve major, major respect for ending the season this way. I hope we show them that respect by, as fans, bringing both consistent support – no matter what the score – to our team throughout the game and behaving with class. At the end of the day, what benefits us most is if the ESPN commentators are favorably impressed with the team and the fans and relay that through the broadcast to any future Panthers out there. Last thing we need are dirty hits (like Auburn) or a bunch of stupidity in the visitors section.

And – as we all know – when the Statesboro trolls are invading the boards tomorrow, we just need to remember that time is on our side, not theirs, and in ten years it is we, not they, that are far more likely to be playing schools like ‘Bama regularly and competitively.

To Coach Curry and the Panther team – you guys have done a great job this year, and best of luck tonight. Regardless of the outcome, it takes a whole lot of, ah, intestinal fortitude, to be the guy who walks out of the tent and takes on Goliath. . . .

. . . . and remember how that ended.


November 18th, 2010
12:42 pm

MD, If your team wants some of Southern, they know how to get it.


November 18th, 2010
12:52 pm

This is great. So proud of GSU and as long as they keep fighting and working hard good things will come out of it – maybe not tonight but definitely in the future.

Go State!


November 18th, 2010
12:55 pm

@ PTC DAWG, Southern’s AD/President don’t want to schedule GSU. We’ve quoted your administration repeatedly. Don’t blame The Real GSU for not scheduling the Eagles. Go talk to your departments and get it to happen. A GSU vs GSoU would be a great game for everyone. Until then please don’t troll. It’s not polite.

Go State!

Blazerilla (BA '92)

November 18th, 2010
1:22 pm

Best of luck to my GSU Panthers! If they display good sportsmanship and good humor, they will be winners no matter the score.


November 18th, 2010
1:23 pm

I just hope that every GSU player who steps off of the bus is able to get back on the bus after the game.

This isn’t going to be a ladies tea party.

Good luck Panthers!


November 18th, 2010
1:47 pm

hope we don’t lose our Cumberland/Guiness record……..


November 18th, 2010
2:19 pm

Bama 49 GSU 7

Final score doesn’t matter, the exposure the program will get on ESPNU will be outstanding. Great for the school, recruiting, etc….

Oh yea, the money from the Bammers is pretty good too.


November 18th, 2010
2:23 pm

Not trying to troll, I haven’t seen that story.


November 18th, 2010
2:28 pm

On the road!!! (Not in the driver’s seat). GOOOOO PANTHERS!!!!!!!!!!

Lets Go State

November 18th, 2010
2:33 pm

It could obviously get ugly tonight, but im excited about the opportunity to play on national TV (and get the paycheck). Hopefully we will keep it respectable and put forth a good effort. Either way, im excited about the future of the program. Go Panthers!


November 18th, 2010
2:37 pm

Black Power Poll TM
Week 11 2010

1. Bethune (9)
2. S. Carolina St (13)
3. Albany St (5)
4. Grambling (22)
6. Texas Southern
7. FVSU (22)
8. Morehouse (23)
9. Shaw (25)
10. Tuskegee

(#) – Top 25 Ranking Coaches Polls, FCS, AFCA


November 18th, 2010
3:00 pm

As soon as the broadcast starts at 7:30, its a win for GSU. The $400K is nice but the national expose is priceless. This game will put Panthers football on the map. The final score is irrelevant.


November 18th, 2010
3:21 pm

Let’s get on the scoreboard a couple of times guys!! That will be a win enough!!!


November 18th, 2010
3:22 pm

“Black Power Poll?”

Hmmm….pretty sure that should be banned.

Don't get ahead of yourselves

November 18th, 2010
3:24 pm

Guys, if you don’t expect it to get ugly tonight you are not being realistic or more importantly, fair to yourself. State is going to get steamrolled but so what, this is their first EVER football season. It’s a huge growing pain to get through but it’ll be an experience everyone on that team will never forget.


November 18th, 2010
3:34 pm

The only people not realistic are the ones predicting soley based on this being “BAMA” against a 1st year program. Read the game notes, injury report, depth chart, etc.

There’s not going to be any “steamrolling” tonight. Bama is a little more classy than that, plus with Auburn in the bad light right now they’d love to keep Auburn there and not draw attention off that situation by blowing out a 1st year program by 12 touchdowns. Also, not sure if most of you are aware but there’s a fair amount of Bama starters not scheduled to play tonight. 3rd string will be in sometime during the 3rd quarter.

Bama wins 52-13


November 18th, 2010
3:35 pm

One more thing, even the ESPN prediction was something like 45-7.


November 18th, 2010
4:14 pm

Go State! How great is this?! Rhetorical, don’t answer – lol.


November 18th, 2010
4:29 pm

A longshot win for us would be Bama having to put starters or 2nd stringers back in if we can handle our own. Can’t wait for kickoff.

5150 P.O.A.D

November 18th, 2010
4:35 pm

Ken areyou going to do a live game day Blog?


November 22nd, 2010
9:07 am

Georgia State and Georgia Southern should play each other every year in football, basketball and baseball. It will become a rivalry on par with Tech and Georgia.