By: Cole Mantell (@lightningdragon)
“What made the MAC special to you?”
“It’s a tough question because it is going to be a huge difference moving out of the MAC to a conference like the SEC, but with that said I believe the MAC has taught me that a team is more than winning or losing. It is about building a relationship with your team, getting their trust and loyalty, standing tall with them after a tough loss, and celebrating the victories alongside them! So to me, I would have to say that the MAC taught me that culture still is around, loyalty is earned, and winning isn’t easy but losing is!”
Gene Pettijohn (@S14Gene) is no stranger to the MAC or the CFSL. The former Ohio Head Coach is leaving the MAC to lead the Georgia Bulldogs into their next era.
While there is a lot of talk about the return of so many new and returning programs, it will come at the price of the MAC’s second era in the CFSL. Ask anyone who has played in the MAC, and they’ll tell you the MAC was different. Not only is the MAC unique in the type of football played, but the culture and locker rooms are completely different from your average school in the CFSL. It’s a loss that obviously will bring back some great schools elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discount the CFSL’s history.
Of course, this isn’t a story about the MAC. That has been well talked about now. But to understand Pettijohn, you must understand the MAC. As stated, the MAC was all about finding different ways to make different rosters work on gameday. Georgia itself has a history of this. Retiring AD Brandon Vieyra also was a product of the MAC, previously coaching EMU. Out of the programs undergoing an AD change this offseason, it would seem Georgia is best positioned to handle the culture change that these changes typically bring.
Georgia is not alone in the newly formed SEC in facing change at the top. Of the seven teams of the new SEC, only two (Auburn and Florida) will not be getting a new AD this season. Tennessee and LSU reenter the CFSL as new expansion teams, while Georgia joins Kentucky and Alabama in getting new Athletic Directors.
This change will be something to watch league-wide, but especially in the SEC. Whoever can get a good jump first in conference play next season may challenge Alabama and win the conference. Georgia has the familiarity on paper to try for that, not to mention a huge upset this season in Round 1 over Alabama. Can they repeat the success next season under a new AD? Time will certainly tell.
As for Pettijohn, this is familiar territory for him. A native of Panama City, Florida, Pettijohn is a native son of the region. Off the clock, he enjoys working on welding, mechanic projects, and especially his project cars. “I’m a dedicated person, I go 110 percent in anything I do,” he adds.
Consistent success is a tough task in this league. Any Athletic Director will tell you that to win, you need a consistent vision from the top down. Georgia certainly believes they have the man to succeed Vieyra next season and beyond. Time will tell, but the first steps are already being taken this offseason in Athens.