Reporting Taylor Zarzour
Tom Suiter is my favorite sports anchor in the Carolinas. He’s had tremendous success in the Triangle, working for WRAL for more than 40 years. He’s always been someone I’ve relied on for professional advice. A few years ago I came to him with an opportunity that had been presented to me. He knew I already had a great job, so his advice was “Taylor, don’t mess with happy.”
I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve tried to apply it in my daily life. However, right now I need the legendary Mr. Suiter to close his eyes for a few minutes: Appalachian State should “mess with happy” and leave the Southern Conference for big boy football.
If money was no object there is no way I would be saying that. In my opinion App State is the best program in FCS football. They annually compete for a national chanpionship, and gamedays in Boone are incredible. You’ve got to be very careful when you mess with that.
But the Mountaineers are not seeing the financial dividends that some other schools of their size have gained. They make virtually no money off of television, they don’t have a conference championship game, and don’t share any bowl revenue. Thus, they have a harder time funding their other schools than Marshall, Troy, Western Kentucky, and several others do.
Those schools I just mentioned were all once great program at the FCS level, just like App is today. But they decided their schools needed more money. Some would say they “sold out” but I disagree. If you were in their shoes, and constantly agonized over budgets you would’ve consider the same thing.
That’s what Atheltic Director Charlie Cobb and his committee has been doing over the last year, and its why they came to the decision they should join the FBS. Is there product on the football field going to suffer? Without any question. But if the Mountaineers can get into Conference USA, or something comparable, it will have been the right decision.
It’s always difficult when you “mess with happy,” and I almost always follow the advice of Mr. Suiter. But this is a risk worth taking.