Georgia State athletic director Cheryl Levick urged patience after the Panthers were hammered by Texas-San Antonio 38-14 on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
The loss dropped the Panthers to 0-3 this season. They now face an extremely difficult stretch of games in their first and last season in the Colonial Athletic Association beginning with next week’s contest against Richmond at the Georgia Dome.
Levick said they will continue to look at everything that is being done on and off the field to make sure the team and coaches are receiving the support needed to be successful. When asked what that could be, considering the team has a new practice facility and plays in the Georgia Dome (something it touts for recruiting), Levick said “patience.”
“We know the potential these young men have and we see the potential every day in practice and we can’t seem to convert on the field yet,” she said after having an impromptu meeting with coach Bill Curry after his press conference. “But we will figure out a way. We aren’t going to quit, we aren’t going to stop until we are a very, very successful football team.”
After going 6-5 in their inaugural season, the Panthers have struggled to replicate that success. The team went 3-8 last year and has been outscored 122-33 this year. Curry is retiring from coaching after the season.
Stretching the patience that Levick said is needed is that the Roadrunners are in their second year. That program seems to be moving forward since defeating the Panthers in overtime last year, while Georgia State has, at best, remained in place. Both will be moving to the FBS next year.
“It is a dilemma,” she said. “We clearly know that our friends at UTSA are doing well and we are struggling. But we will figure it out and correct it and move on.”
That message was also stressed by Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson at halftime. Georgia State will join his conference next year, which plays football on the FBS level.
“I’m not a patient guy, I know that Cheryl and President Becker aren’t, but we have to be patient,” he said. “The potential is here, the upside is here, we just have to be patient.”
It’s not just on the field where the team is struggling. The university tried several different promotions for Saturday’s game, including giving away T-shirts and sunglasses that were promoted by a video earlier in the week featuring Curry lip-synching “Sunglasses at night.” Students were also offered free pizza on the shuttles going back and forth from campus to the Dome.
The announced attendance was 11,496 with a small student section.
“It’s not as big as I want, but everyone in the seats, wearing their blue sunglasses, was having a good time,” Levick said. “We are building a base, that base keeps coming back. It won’t be long before this place is full. I believe that.
“We’ve got to produce on the field to make sure the audience increases. I’m not giving up, we’re never giving up. This team will turn itself around because I believe in those young men on the field and in the coaches. Our fans were fabulous. It just goes back to patience.”
Benson, like Levick, said winning should help stimulate the fan base.
“That’s a hard one to deal with sometimes,” he said.
Benson provided some hope.
Previously commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference, Benson said he estimated 15,000 fans may have attended the first conference game he attended at Boise State in 2001. He said there was no pre-game, tailgating environment.
“They win, next year they win…it doesn’t happen in one year,” he said. “When you start from Ground Zero, it makes it even harder. Your fan base started at zero.”
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu