Article contributed by Andrew Howard (@Andrew_Howard5)Follow @KSUOwlHowl
Between predicting who the inaugural coach could be, rekindling the old high school football flame in efforts to walk on or any other visualization, Kennesaw State football is a ripe arena for speculation these days. I even had a friend tell me with one-hundred percent certainty that Jon Gruden had already agreed to terms behind the scenes to be our head coach. I had to smile and nod with his obvious misinformation, but that illustrates my point. The Valentine’s Day announcement was a jump-off to get the minds of students and future fans racing, yet not much of the actual on the field product has been discussed. Here are some burning questions about Kennesaw State football, pulled straight from the minds of everyone.
What style of offense could you see the Owls starting with?
Any on-field thoughts are obviously pointlessly premature, but as someone who once scored 150 points with a created school in a game of NCAA Football on PS2, I feel pretty qualified to conjecture about starting from scratch on offense. We don’t know yet which coach will lead the Owls on the field, who those said Owls will be, or even what conference they will play in, but what kind of style could we hope to see?
The main tactical difference between the college and professional games is the sheer variety of styles on display. While the NFL offenses don’t generally stray from the median too often—opting instead to wait for certain nuances like the Pistol formation to trickle through—college coaches are able to experiment in ways people like Andy Reid might get a headache from. Identities can range from Wisconsin’s power running game that uses 15% of the state’s population as tight ends to Texas A&M’s one sentence playbook that reads: “Hey Johnny Manziel go do your best impression of Pablo Sanchez from Backyard Football.”
A pretty systematic approach is one thing I believe we see from the beginning. That program-wide approach would then permeate the offensive strategy: emphasizing being really proficient at a smaller number of things, rather than average at a widespread methodology. That’s not to say that we will adopt the “I run six plays” mantra of Coach Boone from Remember the Titans, but Owl fans should not be surprised to see limited play-calling at first.
The actual playbook itself would of course depend solely on the still-unnamed first coach. Speculating on that would be a little meaningless—with every coach brings a different philosophy, set of assistants, and so forth. As a typical former wide receiver, I would love to see a fast-paced shotgun attack, but at this point there’s a better chance of predicting who wins Best Picture at the 2015 Academy Awards. When more details about the new coach come out in the near future, the grainy picture will clear up. Until then, let’s just pretend we’re the Oregon Ducks of Cobb County.
Seriously, what about Jon Gruden?
In my best Gruden impression: “When you talk about Jon Gruden, you’re talking about a guy that is not going to be the coach at Kennesaw.” Next question.
What does football mean for the rivalry with Mercer?
It’s not even official that we will play each other on the gridiron, as our lack of a conference makes scheduling currently unforeseeable. If we’re lucky though, our addition of football (combined with the Bears’ first season beginning later this year) instantly elevates the rivalry to somewhere between UGA-Georgia Tech and me-Matt Ryan on the spectrum of Georgian conflicts. The rivalry has always felt a little manufactured to me; the whole idea of hating someone who never quite impacts me seemed a little foolish. Add football to the equation, however, and I’m so excited that we have an “enemy” school. The only thing we’re missing at this point is a decent nickname for the rivalry, comparable to Bedlam (Oklahoma State-Oklahoma) or the Holy War (BYU-Utah).
Really though, with southern hip-hop hub Atlanta essentially being our midpoint, the two schools need to take more of a rap beef approach to the rivalry. We need to start lobbing unnecessary insults: name-dropping, insulting Macon, and convincing everyone that we don’t even care simultaneously. I won’t advocate violence; let’s just make this as petty and childish as possible, everyone.
In all seriousness, all students should be pretty intrigued about both schools having football, as it adds considerably to the college experience. I can only imagine Auburn fans sitting around discussing how evil Nick Saban is or how impossibly terrible A.J. McCarron’s tattoo is. The possibilities are really endless when it comes to an in-state rivalry. I just hope we are all able to act with maturity and dignity if we actually end up getting to play each other.
And oh yeah, Bears. You guys are definitely going 0-12 this season.
What’s up with the stadium? How is it going to fit all of us students anyways?
Plans are said to have Kennesaw reach the 30,000-student threshold (not to mention the strong metro-area alumni presence) in the near future, continuing the quick growth that the school has seen recently. Even the students who usually flee Kennesaw on the weekend like trying to escape a prison will be convinced to stay around for games. With the stadium only currently seating 8,300 or so, it will obviously be a challenge to work out the seating situation. The Fifth Third Bank sponsorship gives hope that stadium improvements will be made before play gets started. However, Georgia Southern seats 18,000 in Paulson Stadium with a smaller enrollment figure, so unless the renovations plan on more than doubling capacity there will still be problems.
More details on the actual distribution of the tickets have been released since the original announcement. At said press conference, Vaughn Williams was extremely vague and spoke of priority points, which seemed to indicate either monetary support or attendance of other Owl events. The recent launch of a limited version of the football website tells us it is the former: yearly tax-deductible donations will place alumni and other fans into tiers, and from there the quality of tickets will be decided. That process will begin in April and continue until the spring of 2015.
The new site makes no mention, however, of those whose fee increases are leading to the new program. A seat shortage could mean a huge portion of students get left out in favor of more donors, so it is of some concern what the school will do. Anyone who has tried to eat at the Commons during lunchtime or tried to study in the library around finals will vouch for the fact that Kennesaw will attempt to pack us in to the point of near-suffocation. Maybe they’ll just give everyone a ticket and let us fight it out once inside the stadium, but some type of a lottery system seems a little more plausible. Either way, the excitement already on campus makes that 8,300 seem almost microscopic in comparison.
I’m going to start working out so I can walk-on when the team starts. What sort of chances do you give me of making the team?
A simple message to the large population of the male student body that has likely uttered something like this in the past month: get real. There are some success stories in scenarios like this—Justin Heckert’s ESPN The Magazine article on GSU’s first tryout comes to mind—but the odds of a current student holding a place on the team that doesn’t involve washing towels is pretty small. Recruited talent will flood to Kennesaw in the first few years; the Atlanta area is flooded with guys that are just off the mark for the elite programs of the south. I have a lot of respect for anybody with the bravery to try and walk-on, but it’s very, very unlikely.
The only person actively affiliated with KSU that needs to be recruited to be involved with the team is the man that wore his club football jersey to the announcement press conference. That hero, short on youth but long on honor, NEEDS to be in uniform when 2015 rolls around. Jersey Man—if you’re out there—just know you are my favorite college football player of all time.
- We already have our own Varsity near Town Center, but it’d sure be cool to have a signature restaurant within walking distance to Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Del Taco is our best candidate currently, but let’s hope another steps up before 2015.
- If Vaughn Williams is this excited now, I have serious doubts anyone is prepared for him during an actual game. I’ve never seen someone get so enthusiastic about everything; that guy is great. Free advice for the KSU bookstore: sell a Vaughn Williams alarm clock.
- KSU, please decide to open up the intramural fields for tailgating, like many schools do. We need to have priorities, right?
- We’re within 30 months of playing football. Not that I’m counting or anything, though.