"First Game - Yellow Bus Tradition"
|First, in the distance, there is the sound of sirens as the
police escort for the Georgia Southern team buses announces the eminent
arrival of the Eagles. Long before fans see the yellow school buses round
the turn, fans flock to the front of the Bishop Building to greet the
coaches and players. Other fans stand guard at their tailgate spot, ready
to honk their horns and activate their vehicle alarms. The rise of cheers,
horns, alarms and sirens signals the arrival of the most colorful (yellow)
tradition of Georgia Southern football.
When the football program was resurrected in 1981 the newly formed team needed to travel to practices and games. The initial shoestring budget did not allow for luxury travel or any method of transportation for that matter. Approached with a deal it couldn’t refuse, Georgia Southern University paid the Bulloch County Board of Education one dollar for each of the team’s two yellow school buses. A spray of black paint marked out the name “Bulloch County Schools” on the sides of each bus and the Eagles had a way to travel to and from their games.
In the words of legendary Coach Erk Russell, who often joked about the lack of amenities, “if you don’t have the best of everything, make the best of everything you have.” Long after Georgia Southern could afford better transportation for home games, Russell kept the yellow school buses. They served to remind the players and fans of the humble beginnings of this now legendary program.
Packed with Eagle players and coaches, the buses make the game day trek from the football building to Paulson Stadium. Players sing the top secret “The Valley Song” before arriving to the crowd of fans who greet the buses and form a path for the players into the stadium. Putting his own touch on a Georgia Southern tradition, football Coach Chris Hatcher now drives the lead bus, bringing his team to each home game.