News broke Thursday that the Sun Belt Conference -- seeking symmetry while stuck on 11 members -- has been in talks with two schools.
Per Commissioner Karl Benson, as quoted in the Lafayette, Louisiana Daily Advertiser:
"I think Eastern Kentucky has been public in declaring their interest in moving up to FBS. I think that Coastal Carolina has not made that public statement," Benson told The Daily Advertiser in a one-on-one interview. "So has Eastern Kentucky contacted the Sun Belt? Yes. Have we had conversation with Coastal Carolina and others? Yes. That's about all I can say."
As you can tell, those two schools are EKU and Coastal Carolina. Both make good fits in large part because they provide a travel partner for Appalachian State. Read between the lines though, and there appears to be a hidden message: Thanks for the call, Eastern Kentucky, but we really want Coastal even though they're playing hard to get.
Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.
As the name suggests, Coastal is located near the coast, A.K.A. the beach. The campus is nestled in Conway, South Carolina, part of the Myrtle Beach metro area.
Which means if you make a road trip out of a Coastal game, there's a built-in beach vacation thrown in just because. Need I say more??
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Not a cloud in the sky here in Myrtle Beach. Great photo by @jwlvdy <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MyMyrtleBeach?src=hash">#MyMyrtleBeach</a> <a href="http://t.co/k6k6j3xnin">http://t.co/k6k6j3xnin</a> <a href="http://t.co/1Y2NHCirf2">pic.twitter.com/1Y2NHCirf2</a></p>— Visit Myrtle Beach (@MyMyrtleBeach) <a href="https://twitter.com/MyMyrtleBeach/status/618497010346401796">July 7, 2015</a></blockquote>
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My alma mater faced the Chanticleers in 2006 and 2007, the latter an early season contest in Conway. Needless to say, it turned into a rowdy beach weekend for many who made the trek, with a football game thrown in for good measure. Not that I would know.
Maybe that's a shallow reason to want a school to join your conference. If it takes more than a good excuse for a vacation every other year to convince you, don't fret.
CCU begin playing football in 2003 and quickly became a power at the FCS level. They've made the FCS playoffs the last two years, losing to eventual champion North Dakota State each time, and earned a #1 FCS ranking late in the 2014 season.
Coastal has won the Big South six times, which is basically every other season they've tried. They also boast seven NFL players including quarterback Tyler Thigpen and fullback Mike Tolbert.
On top of that, the basketball team made the NCAA tournament the last two years as well. This isn't some slouch of a school trying to gain notoriety through FBS football.
So far, Coastal officials are more or less mum on the issue, though they admit to kicking the tires a bit.
From the Myrtle Beach Sun News:
"We've been contacted and we've had some discussion and that's really the extent at this point," [CCU Athletic Director Matt] Hogue said. "That's where we are. We can acknowledge that they have contacted us, and certainly our stance has always been we would explore any opportunities that are presented to us."
The opportunity to bring in a power in both football and basketball is exactly what the Sun Belt needs. Well, that and the beach.
And more dogs:
Coastal Carolina needs to join the Sun Belt yesterday.