Issac J. Bailey | The Grand Strand’s national influence on college football

About a week after the death of the patriarch of one of the most prolific professional football families in U.S. history, residents of the Grand Strand will huddle around their TVs, radios and Internet feeds to experience one of the most important area football weekends in memory.

James Geathers died Nov. 15 at the age of 77 in the Browns Ferry community after a long bout with cancer.

He’s the father of several children, including “Jumpy” and Robert Geathers. Jumpy was on two winning Super Bowl teams during a long career in the National Football League; Robert was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the early 1980s and played for a few years before a bad back cut his career short.

Robert has two sons in the league today, Robert Jr. with the Cincinnati Bengals and Clifton with the Indianapolis Colts.

His other son, Kwame Geathers, is a defensive tackle with the University of Georgia and a solid pro prospect. A cousin who plays for Central Florida has pro prospect as well.

That doesn’t include family members who played in the Arena Football and Canadian Football League.

According to an NFL historian I contacted, if the younger Geathers make it into the league as expected, you’d have to go back to the early 20th century – the Nesser family from 1907 to the mid-1920s – to find a family with a deeper pro football pedigree.

James Geathers, described by many at his funeral as a modest, upbeat man, helped craft a uniquely successful family during his almost 8 decades of life, right there deep in Georgetown County.

He will be missed , but that legacy won’t be forgotten.

It will be on display Saturday when Kwame Geathers takes the field for Georgia against Georgia Tech.

If his team wins, it will put them one step from the national title game, the biggest single game in major college sports.

And if they make to that title game, Kwame Geathers, a Carvers Bay product, could well end up trying to sack a Myrtle Beach High School graduate. Everett Golson is the starting quarterback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the nation’s No.1 ranked team.

If they beat the University of Southern California on Saturday night, Notre Dame will receive an invitation to the championship game.

That game will be played in Florida on Jan. 7, the state where this Saturday head coach Joe Moglia will try to take the Coastal Carolina Football program to heights it has never known when it plays Bethune Cookman.

A win would mean Coastal’s first-ever playoff victory.

It would be a real step towards the school’s goal of becoming a perennial player on the national stage.

Clemson and the University of South Carolina, each of which has legions of fans and alumni along the Grand Strand, know about the national stage. Their annual clash, to be renewed Saturday night, will place one of them there again.

The winner has a solid chance of landing one of the at-large berths for the Bowl Championship Series games. Only the national title game itself is more high-profile.

High school football is big in this area. This weekend, though, college football and all that it represents in the South takes center stage.