The Board of Regents confirmed today that football will indeed be coming to Kennesaw State University!! The four biggest questions are: When? Which conference? Who will be the head coach? What will football mean to KSU?
When will the opening kickoff be? The program will start in 2015 (90% certainty)
Which conference? It certainly won’t be the Atlantic Sun as they don’t have football. Here are a few options
1. Southern Conference: The SoCon makes all the sense in the world. Chattanooga is a natural rivalry (“the battle of I-75”) and Georgia Southern is an in-state rival. However they are preparing to lose Georgia Southern and Appalachian State so it appears that they are going towards more private schools, which makes sense monetarily, because of the extra hurdles that state schools present.
2. Colonial Athletic Association: Georgia State has many parallels to KSU, it’s just that they are a few years ahead in the process. Once a member of the Atlantic Sun conference, they moved up to the CAA in 2005. Now that Georgia State is moving on up again to the Sun Belt conference, there is an opening in the CAA and KSU would help them regain the Atlanta market. The biggest hurdle here would be travel expenses for most of the teams that are based in the northeast, that KSU may or may not have the money for.
3. Big South: This conference matches up region-wise and with the skill-level of the other KSU sports teams. There are limited teams and they may be looking to add more to keep pace with conference alignments. Current NFL players from the Big South include Mike Tolbert, Jerome Simpson and Rashad Jennings.
4. Pioneer Football Conference: A very likely choice for KSU. You get to pick your own schedule and KSU could cash in by playing schools connected to Vince Dooley, like UGA. KSU could make their one million a game vs. the likes of UGA and pick up the wins vs. other new programs. If KSU were to go this route, they would stay in the Atlantic Sun conference.
Who will be the head coach? It’s a bit early to have any names beyond speculation, but there are some clues in how Athletics Director Vaughn Williams operates. Looking at the history of Williams’ recent hires (Preston, Perry and Schunzel), it very well may be a young top assistant from a burgeoning program on the east coast. Williams has connections to the University of Connecticut, Toledo, Utah and Boston College.
John Bednarowski of the Marietta Journal dropped a few names in January including Vince Dooley’s son Derek, former Falcons defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder and former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel. The article is worth a read.
If we hear any rumors we will post them as fast as we can!
What will football mean to KSU? Everything. In no particular order, I’d like to touch on some of the key points.
1. Kennesaw State has grown tremendously in the past decade. In the fall of 2002 there were 15,600 students, a Division II athletics program and no football. In the fall of 2013 there will be approximate 25,000 students, a Division I athletics program and football on the horizon. Football will create an even bigger influx of students, or at least applications.
2. The value of all degrees will go up, because the school will have more national attention. How many people would know of Appalachian St. or Coastal Carolina if they didn’t have a football program? Also, KSU will become a more desirable destination, thus harder to get into which will bring in more academically inclined students.
3. With all of the new dorms/apartments that have been built on/near campus recently, the atmosphere of KSU is changing from that of a commuter school to one of a more traditional college. Adding a football program will end the commuter school talk, and it will become viewed in the same light as other similar programs like Georgia State.
4. With the addition of football to go along with the increase of housing, school spirit and morale will increase. People will attend games on the weekends and tailgate. Students will gain a sense of identity with Kennesaw State that has been severely lacking up to this point.
5. Having a football team will help with recruiting in all other sports.
6. KSU will get some national attention throughout the process. Especially if they make a splash hire for their first head coach.
7. The local media will be forced to recognize KSU as a Division I university. The Atlanta Journal Constitution and local news outlets largely only recognized Georgia and Georgia Tech up until a few years ago when Georgia State (GSU) got a football program. Now that KSU will be joining those ranks, look for an increased interest in all things KSU.
8. KSU merchandise should be hitting the shelves. Once GSU got their program up and running, I noticed apparel in stores that I had never seen before.
9. KSU’s football program will make them more attractive to other conferences. If KSU can move up to the SoCon or OVC and out of the Atlantic Sun, it will be a boost for all of the KSU athletics programs.
10. Alumni will be more interested in donating to the school which will help advance the athletics programs.
11. Because of Title IX legislation for gender equality, every male scholarship has to equal a female scholarship. You have already seen this in the works with the addition of women’s lacrosse. Look for KSU to add more female sports. Likely additions could be field hockey or sand volleyball.Follow @KSUOwlHowl