Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.
Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 at 9:30 p.m.
Even though the Georgia Southern football team had a bye last week, fans can still watch their beloved Eagles on television this week.
SportSouth followed the Eagles through three-a-day practices in August and throughout their preparation to open the season at then No.1-ranked Georgia and combined that with an explanation of the traditions that make Georgia Southern’s football program unique.
The result is a 30-minute insider’s view to the program, second-year head coach Chris Hatcher and the players, called “Under the Lights: Georgia Southern Football,” which premiered Saturday.
SportSouth did a similar chronicle of Appalachian State last season as the Mountaineers prepared for Michigan. The network has also taken on similar projects for ACC and SEC programs.
The show’s producer, Ray Goodrich, said they chose Georgia Southern because of the traditions that color the program, despite the fact that it’s still relatively young.
“It’s got a very short history, but it doesn’t seem like it, because it’s got so much tradition,” he said. “Alabama’s got six national championships — they’ve been playing football since the 1890s. Georgia Southern’s got six and they started in the ’80s, that’s unbelievable. So the more we looked, we said, ‘OK, why is that?’ That’s kind of why we decided we want to go answer that question.”
The majority of the show focuses on some of the program’s customs that date back to the tenure of Erk Russell. The show takes fans on the dirty school buses that tote the team to Paulson Stadium on Saturday and shows the gnats swarming around players at practice.
Though it mentions Beautiful Eagle Creek, there’s no mention of taking any of its water to opposing schools as the Eagles have been known to do, giving them some sort of “magic” on the field on which they sprinkle it. Still, that speaks to the amount of tradition at Georgia Southern — that a television show can spend the better part of a half hour talking about it, and still miss a couple of things.
“There was a ton of stuff that we would have loved to have used,” Goodrich said. “We have a saying in television, where you’re not cutting meat anymore, you’re cutting into bone. Well, we had to cut into bone a little bit on this one. We had to leave some really good stuff out.”
One of the things Goodrich laments is not being able to show more of Hatcher’s interaction with the team, both as an authority figure and goofing off a bit with his players.
“We could have done a whole half-hour show just on Coach Hatcher,” Goodrich said. “He is as entertaining as they come.”
The program leads up to GSU playing Georgia between the hedges in Athens on Aug. 30 where the Eagles lost 45-21.
“I think it’s really good,” said Hatcher, who had a chance to preview the show. “It talks a lot about our traditions here, that’s primarily what the show turned out to be. I think it reflects well on our program and it reflects well on Statesboro. A lot of it (the fans) already know, but it’s a little bit of a different perspective and it takes you inside our football program.”