App State plays for pride in 2013
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Appalachian State's football program will have plenty of “last times,” during the 2013 season. The Southern Conference media day Wednesday was one of those times.
Head coach Scott Satterfield, quarterback Jamal Londry-Jackson and defensive end Robert Blair represented the Mountaineers at the event, which included coaches from all current nine SoCon teams. Two of the three new programs replacing Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Elon – who are all leaving for different conferences next season – were also represented. Mercer coach Bobby Lamb and East Tennessee State coach Carl Torbush were also on hand.
Mercer and VMI begin SoCon play in 2014. East Tennessee State begins its play in 2015 and plays a football schedule in 2016.
Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will move to the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. Elon moves to the Colonial Athletic Association, also in 2014.
Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are not eligible to play in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs because the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision requires both programs to average at least 76 players on scholarship to be on their respective rosters. Appalachian State has already added players on scholarship past the FCS limit of 63, which makes them ineligible for the playoffs.
The Mountaineers or Georgia Southern can finish in first place, but the league championship will be awarded to the highest finishing team that is still in the conference.
“Going back in year's past, we never even talked about the playoffs,” Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield said. “We were always focused on the Southern Conference. If we got through the Southern Conference and we could win it, or finish close to the top of it, we were going to have a good chance at the playoffs. That's not changed for us.”
Londry-Jackson said that even through Appalachian State will not be playing in the postseason in 2013, there is plenty to play for. Not losing any games is a goal Londry-Jackson has every year.
“First and foremost, I'm playing for the team,” Londry-Jackson said. “On a personal note, it's an opportunity to play on the next level on a team aspect. I want to lead these guys into battle. Our goal every year is to go undefeated. We may not be crowned SoCon champs by the media or in the record books, but that's what we're trying to go for. We want to be SoCon champs and we're going to try to win every game.”
An undefeated season will be a tall order for the Mountaineers in 2013. Appalachian State opens the season at FCS power Montana and also faces SEC power Georgia on Nov. 16.
Appalachian State also hosts Georgia Southern on Oct. 26.
The senior class will not play in a postseason game for the first time since they played at Appalachian State. The junior class has a double whammy in that the Mountaineers will not be bowl eligible in 2014 when they make the jump to the Sun Belt.
Londry-Jackson said the seniors were disappointed when they first heard the news that there would be no hope for a postseason berth. They still want to finish their collegiate careers winning the SoCon title, even if they don't get a trophy or banner that goes with it.
“We took it (the news) and we moved on,” Londry-Jackson said. “We know we've got 12 guaranteed games and no playoff, so we're trying to win every one of those 12 and go out on top.”
Satterfield, who was a part of several playoff berths as a player and a coach with the Mountaineers, said it will seem strange not to be playing a playoff game after the regular season. The Mountaineers have not missed the postseason since the 2004 season when they finished 6-5.
App State went on to win the next three Division I-AA/FCS national championships.
Until that final game, which is Nov. 23 at home against Western Carolina, it's business as usual for the Mountaineers.
“When we play Western Carolina in our last game, then reality is going to set in that it's over, that we're done,” Satterfield said. “But our focus is on Montana. We want to have the best season we can have. Once the season starts, it's not going to be strange. It's all about the ball then.”