A Timeline of Georgia State Football
By Paul Myerberg // Apr 4, 2012
A timeline of Georgia State football, with all quotes courtesy of the university:
Nov. 2006: Football feasibility study completed.
The study was completed and submitted to Georgia State by C.H. Johnson Consulting, a Chicago-based real estate and hospitality firm. In its report, the firm found that “there is strong belief that G.S.U. could sponsor a competitively successful football team given the advantageous location of the university,” and that “the program should flourish and compete in the upper half of the Colonial Athletic Association.” The firm also estimated that Georgia State’s total annual expenses in for fielding a football program by the year 2012 would be at least $3.1 million, not counting the ensuing costs associated with Title IX realignment.
April 15, 2007: Dan Reeves hired as a consultant.
This hire was announced with the first football-based news release issued by the university. Calling Georgia “the greatest recruiting state east of the Mississippi,” Reeves said he was too “intrigued by the opportunity” to turn it down.
Nov. 1, 2007: University discusses feasibility study.
At the time, and thanks to the study submitted by C.H. Johnson Consulting, the university estimated that the annual cost of fielding a football program would range between $6.2 and $33.8 million, counting Title IX expenses. Facilities would cost between $2.4 and $20 million annually, “depending on the scenario selected.” According to the university, the $2.4 million scenario involved renting out the Georgia Dome for home games; the $20 million scenario involved a new stadium and downtown practice facility. Georgia State opted on the cheaper alternative.
April 17, 2008: Football program is launched.
“I know that many former and current students have dreamed of a day when there would be football Saturdays at Georgia State, and while that might have looked like third-and-long for many years, I think today is a great time for an end-zone celebration,” said university president Carl Patton.
June 12, 2008: Bill Curry named head coach.
Georgia State hired the former Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky head coach to a five-year contract. Prior to being hired, Curry was the Director of Leadership at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn. Curry had been out of coaching since being dismissed at Kentucky following the 1996 season.
Aug. 2008: First five assistant coaches hired.
Curry added offensive coordinator John Bond, defensive coordinator John Thompson, assistant head coach George Pugh — named the wide receivers coach shortly thereafter — defensive line coach Chris Ward and defensive backs coach Anthony Midget.
Nov. 20, 2008: Groundbreaking for practice facility.
Location: 188 Martin Luther King Drive in downtown Atlanta. Said Curry, “Football is the greatest team sport ever devised because it’s the only sport where every player needs every teammate on every play just to survive. That’s exactly what our Georgia State community is. We all need each other and we’re calling on you now to help us get this thing going.” That’s one heck of a sales pitch.
Jan. 4, 2009: First scholarship player enrolls.
That would be Mark Hogan, a 5’11, 190-pound wide receiver out of Massachusetts — yes, Massachusetts. Why did Hogan choose the Panthers? Family ties: Hogan’s father, also named Mark, played under Curry at Georgia Tech. Hogan has since moved to linebacker; last fall, he made 56 tackles, 2 sacks and an interception.
Feb. 4, 2009: Program signs its first recruiting class.
The Panthers signed 27 players, with Hogan and Parker Stevens of Katy, Tex., the only two prospects from outside the Southeast. The top-rated recruit was three-star running back Parris Lee, who also held offers from Central Michigan, Tulane and Middle Tennessee State, according to the database at Rivals.com.
Feb. 25, 2009: Cheryl Levick named athletic director.
Levick was hired away from Maryland, where she had spent the last three years as the school’s executive senior athletic director. From 2004-7, Levick was the athletic director at St. Louis University. It’s safe to say she’s done a pretty nice job with the football program.
June 11, 2009: Georgia State admitted to the C.A.A.
This was expected, seeing that G.S.U. had been a part of the C.A.A. in other men’s and women’s sports since the 2005-6 academic year. “The response to Georgia State football has been remarkable,” said Levick. “Around campus and throughout the city of Atlanta, there is a positive buzz for our new program. The membership in the C.A.A. is now official, and we are ready to kick off practice in August.”
Aug. 11, 2009: First team of 71 players reports.
Officially, at least. Hogan, for example, had been with the university since the spring. “It’s really nice to finally have everyone here so we can start getting better as a team,” said Hogan, no longer lonely. Since Curry signed 27 players in February — and that all eventually made it on campus — a good 44 players on that August day were walk-ons.
Aug. 14, 2009: Georgia State’s first football practice.
The two-hour practice took place at an N.F.L. facility in downtown Atlanta, near to Georgia State’s campus. “This is football practice and this is serious business,” Curry told his team. One thing that surprised Curry? While he was expecting — and saw — enough to keep him awake at night, he liked his team’s overall speed.
Sept. 2, 2009: Inaugural scheduled released.
For the 2010 season, mind you; G.S.U. only practiced during the fall of 2009 — an old-school coach’s dream, you might say. The 2010 schedule featured home games against Shorter, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Savannah State, North Carolina Central State and Lambuth. Road games were scheduled against Campbell, Old Dominion, South Alabama and… Alabama.
Dec. 7, 2009: Season tickets go on sale.
The first fan to purchase a season package — which ranged from $72-125 per seat — was Preston Stancil, a member of the Panther Athletic Club. Said Stancil, “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. I love this university, I love football and I bleed Panther Blue.” About 1,000 season tickets were sold on the first day.
Feb. 3, 2010: Second recruiting class signs.
This time, Georgia State’s recruiting footprint extended far outside the Southeast. The Panthers signed players from 11 different states — and Canada — including three junior college linebackers from California. The class also included the program’s first specialist: kicker Patrick Baker of Vero Beach, Fla.
Mar. 23, 2010: First spring practice begins.
A year before, spring practice presumably featured Hogan running and lifting weights alone. “We told the team we’d allow them to set the goals, so I told them to come up with three,” said Curry. “We got to five, and guys we’re still raising their hands, so I allowed them to do 10 goals.” One goal, per Curry? “Let’s become a team.”
Mar. 27, 2010: First workout at new complex.
Less than two years after the groundbreaking, the Panthers took the field at their new practice facility. Among the accoutrements? A 100-yard synthetic field and lights. At this point, an adjoining, 50-yard field was still under construction.
April 10, 2010: First spring scrimmage.
Over 3,000 fans showed up to watch Curry put his team through a scrimmage for the first time. The stars? Quarterback Kelton Hill completed 8 of 14 attempts for 110 yards and a score. Linebacker Robert Ferguson had an interception. Defensive end Austin Wiley had two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Aug. 4, 2010: Georgia State begins preseason practice.
“This is different, this is real, and this is fun,” said Curry. The Panthers had 29 practices to prepare for its debut; the Panthers also had a few high-profile B.C.S. conference transfers, like former Alabama quarterback Star Jackson, former Auburn tight end Bailey Woods and former Georgia Tech offensive linemen Joseph Gilbert and Clyde Yandell. As the Panthers began fall practice, Curry thought the offensive line to be his team’s strength.
Sept. 2, 2010: First football game, and home opener.
And so it begins — or began, rather. Forget about growing pains: Georgia State had its way with Shorter, winning by 41-7 behind 366 yards of total offense, 212 on the ground. The first touchdown in program history was notched by the aforementioned Parris Lee, who scored on a four-yard run in the first quarter. It had been 869 days since the date Georgia State first announced its intention to begin a football program. “I’ve never been more proud of a group of young men than I am of this group,” said Curry.
Oct. 2, 2010: Inaugural homecoming game.
It was a complete football game from the Panthers, who beat Morehead State, 34-7, for their second straight win — moving to 3-2 overall — after dropping back-to-back games to Jacksonville State and Campbell. Quarterback Drew Little completed 21 of 29 attempts for 287 yards and 4 scores; the defense held Morehead State to 280 yards of total offense. It was over at halftime: G.S.U. went into the locker room with a 30-3 lead.
Nov. 18, 2010: First game against an F.B.S. opponent.
It was ugly, as expected. Alabama 63, Georgia State 7. Leave it to Curry to put the loss in perspective: “We’re a better football team right now than we were before the game because of what we learned. I’m grateful to our administration for making this happen, and I’m grateful to Alabama.” The game, which was broadcast in more than 800,000 homes, can in a way be viewed as the high point of Georgia State’s season.
Sept. 1, 2011: First game of the 2011 season.
Georgia State began its last season as an F.C.S. Independent in vaguely familiar fashion: Clark Atlanta, not Shorter, but the same score — a 41-7 win. Curry was impressed with the play of his new quarterback, Bo Schlecther, saying, “We had a quarterback who had never played a college game at quarterback and we had zero turnovers. In my fondest dreams, I would have struggled to believe that.”
Nov. 19, 2011: First “senior day,” officially.
The Panthers bid farewell to 20 seniors, seven of whom had been part of the program since that first practice in 2009. The group of 20 included 10 starters: four along the offensive line, two on the defensive line, two at linebacker and one each at tight end and safety. Those seniors ended an otherwise disappointing season — the Panthers went 3-8 last fall — on a high note, as G.S.U. set a new program record for total yards and rushing yards in a 42-3 win over Campbell.
Jan. 19, 2012: First C.A.A. schedule released.
Now we’re getting close to real time. A little more than two months ago, G.S.U. unveiled its first — and last, perhaps — schedule as a member of the C.A.A. On the list? Home games against Richmond, New Hampshire, Villanova and Old Dominion; road games come at William & Mary, Rhode Island, James Madison and Maine. Also of note is a road trip to Tennessee, not to mention this potential barnburner: on Sept. 15, the Panthers play host to Texas-San Antonio.
April 3, 2012: G.S.U. to the Sun Belt, per reports.
Citing industry sources, Brett McMurphy of CBS reported that Sun Belt presidents voted to extend an invitation to Georgia State for the 2013 season. The Panthers are “expected to join the Sun Belt Conference and accept an invitation from the league as early as Thursday,” wrote McMurphy. So long, C.A.A., and so long F.C.S. — we hardly knew ye. If G.S.U. formally accepts the invitation on Friday, for example, it will have been 1,451 days since the university announced the formation of its football program.
Tags: Alabama, Bill Curry, Georgia State, Kentucky, Mark Hogan, Parris Lee, Sun Belt, Texas-San Antonio
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