CMA co-hosts Peyton Manning (left) and Luke Bryan (right) pose with Cole Swindell (center) backstage at the 2022 CMAs. Bryan and Swindell are both Georgia Southern alumni. Credit:

Georgia Southern alum and country superstar Luke Bryan hosted the 56th annual Country Music Association Awards in Nashville on Wednesday, November 9.

His fellow country star and Georgia Southern alum, Cole Swindell, was nominated for two awards and performed his current #1 hit, “She Had Me at Heads Carolina,” with JoDee Messina.

But what has Georgia Southern fans really talking is Bryan’s introduction of the performance.

“Let me tell you about my buddy, Cole Swindell,” Bryan said. “He and I both went to Georgia Southern. And of course, there’s a big difference between us. Cole actually went to class!”

Swindell wore his signature “GS” hat during his time on stage. You can see the shoutout and the performance below.

Swindell was nominated for Music Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year for “Never Say Never” featuring Lainey Wilson. Bryan was featured on Jordan Davis’s track “Buy Dirt,” which was nominated for Single of the Year and Song of the Year. It won for the latter.

Bryan, originally from Leesburg in Lee County, graduated from Georgia Southern in 1999 with a degree in business administration. Swindell, originally from Bronwood in Terrell County, followed in the class of 2007 with a degree in marketing. The two were both members of Southern’s Sigma Chi chapter and have been friends for many years.

Hail Southern!