Thanks to John Miller from 247Sports’ App State site, AppNation247, we were able to get a feel of the pulse of App fans following the announcement that they and the Charlotte 49ers would do battle on the gridiron through a two-game home and home series in 2018 and 2019. While 2018 is a long way off, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding how exactly things will look, it could be the start of quite the rivalry.
What’s the early reaction coming from App fans on this move?
The reaction varies depending on who you’re talking to. Some are glad to have the chance to finally settle this ‘cold war’ on the field. Others are not excited about the matchup, saying that they were promised games against more established FBS teams when App made the move up. In my personal opinion, I think it’s great for all involved. I am from south Charlotte myself (Weddington) and went to App. The majority of Mountaineer faithful reside in Charlotte. I would actually like to see this become an annual OOC rivalry that takes place at Bank of America Stadium. I think that would bring some more excitement for both schools in the Charlotte area, which is where I assume each school gets the majority of their student applications from as well. Having been to App/Charlotte basketball games, I see this rivalry as a sleeping giant. App fans are still a little bitter about Charlotte getting the C-USA invite and I’m sure Charlotte fans are bitter about being told they didn’t deserve it. In time, Charlotte could grow to be App’s biggest rival due to the close proximity of the schools.
It seems like a natural decision to have these two play each other. Why wasn’t this put into place a little sooner, in your opinion?
I do not have any inside information as to why this did not take place sooner. Actually, I think it happened relatively fast. If I were Charlotte’s AD, I would not have wanted to play App right out of the gate. If I were App State’s AD, considering the performance of this past season and the ongoing FBS transition, I would rather wait in that instance as well. 2018 is actually a perfect year because App will have had 5 FBS recruiting classes behind it. On the other side, Charlotte will have a more well-established program and more of an identity for itself. There will be no excuse for whichever team loses.
From a competition standpoint, from what you can see right now, do you feel that these two teams will be similar or vastly different?
I have not seen Charlotte play yet unfortunately, but even if I had I don’t think it would help me answer this question. 2018 is too far away to make any accurate predictions. I would have to think both schools would be better than they were last season. I’m not sure how Charlotte fans view their own season but as an outsider I would say it was both good and bad and my overall feeling about the program is ‘still too early to tell.’ Meanwhile, App had a few of the worst losses in recent memory but improved greatly as the season went on. Most fans think the future is bright. Recruiting-wise, App State is currently 93rd on the 247Sports Team Recruiting rankings (3rd in the Sun Belt) while Charlotte is 108th (11th in C-USA). I would say App is recruiting slightly better at this early stage but there isn’t much of an edge there and of course we’ll have to wait until signing day to know for sure. I expect it to be a good game but ask me again in 2017.
4. In the much nearer future, App is set to play its first season in FBS in 2014. Talk about the excitement surrounding their move up.
I would say the excitement has at least doubled. I know our membership on the site (AppNation247) has quadrupled since the announcement. Recruiting prospects consistently tell me that the FBS move is a huge piece of why they are considering or have committed to App. The Michigan rematch to kick it all off is exciting for obvious reasons. App is used to playing a big-time opponent to open the season though. I think this whole FBS move is going to seem real when App plays a FBS opponent at home. Now whether App can sustain the excitement will all depend on how App performs in 2014. App State is eligible for the Sun Belt title but will not be bowl-eligible until 2015.