Chad Lunsford likes to tell the story of how the football program began at Georgia Southern. When the Eagles revived their program in 1981, no one could find a football to display at the news conference. Someone from the campus had to run out and buy one before it began.
“To build this, the whole community chipped in,” he said in a phone interview.
It’s why the Eagles board old yellow school buses before home games and take a lap around campus before heading to the stadium. Fraternity and sorority members line the streets to cheer them on, then pack Allen E. Paulson Stadium for kickoff. The arena’s capacity is larger than the population of Statesboro, Ga., where campus is located.
And when Lunsford needs to get fans fired up, he knows right where to go: Georgia Southern’s Greek system.
Ahead of Georgia Southern’s matchup with Arkansas State on Saturday, which could have deep consequences in the Sun Belt standings, Lunsford is going door to door at sororities and fraternities staging mini pep rallies at chapter meetings to turn out fans.
And when he goes to some fraternity houses, things have gotten a little crazy. Fraternity brothers are body-slamming folding chairs.
After the Eagles beat Louisiana-Lafayette on the road last year, they celebrated in the locker room with some good ol' fashioned chair-slams out of the WWE playbook. Lunsford, who grew up a professional wrestling fan, has kept up the tradition and it’s caught on around campus.
And now the fraternities are doing it, too.
“Sometimes they’re waiting for me to say something or they’re already yelling and screaming and hollering,” Lunsford said of the Greek houses. “They’re fired up about Georgia Southern football and we want to keep it that way.
“When I started visiting the fraternities and they had the chairs ready to go it was a lot of fun.”
No word on if the chairs find it fun. Or the neighbors.
Georgia Southern and Arkansas State kick off Saturday at 6 p.m.
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