Coastal Carolina faced an unusual predicament for their 2016 schedule. Due to their impending move to FBS and the Sun Belt, the Chanticleers have to go through the FCS-to-FCS transition process. Part of that process is playing one season as an FCS Independent before leaving. The catch is that the team has to bump their scholarship totals up from the 63 maximum usually allowed in FCS. That naturally makes the team ineligible for their conference championship or an NCAA FCS Playoff bid.
Despite these hurdles, Coastal Carolina announced on Monday their schedule for the 2016 season. The slate has 12 games, one more than usual in FCS, and an eyebrow-raising eight home games.
9/3 at Lamar
9/10 vs Florida A&M
9/17 at Jacksonville State
9/24 vs Furman
10/1 vs Charleston Southern
10/8 at Gardner-Webb
10/22 vs Central Connecticut State
10/29 at Presbyterian
11/5 vs Monmouth)
11/12 vs Bryant
11/17 vs Liberty (Thursday)
11/26 vs Hampton
All 12 opponents are FCS. The Chants haven't played an FBS foe since November 2013, but starting in 2017, will play 10+ of them every year.
With Coastal's announcement having been back in August, the Big South Conference had no obligation to keep the Chants football program in 2016 and didn't. So despite still being FCS for one more year, no Big South team had a mandate to play CCU.
The good news for CCU is that in their 2016 scheduling, all but one of their now-former Big South foes kept the Chants on the schedule. But in some cases CCU was held up for money according to Myrtle Beach Online.
Coastal Carolina will pay guarantees in the $100,000 range to retain their previously-scheduled home dates with former Big South co-horts Charleston Southern and Monmouth, while maintaining the Liberty game was part of deal made last year in agreeing to move the teams’ 2015 meeting in Lynchburg, Va., to a Thursday night.
Both Charleston Southern and Monmouth were originally schedule to visit Conway anyway, but with CCU no longer a Big South member, neither school had to make the trip. However, scheduling in a conference that now only has six members is brutal so both programs used the situation to their advantage.
The first game will also be the longest road trip as the Chants visit Beaumont, Texas to face Lamar of the Southland Conference.
After the home opener the following week against Florida A&M of the MEAC, the Chants will make their second and final trip out of the Carolinas to face 2015-16 FCS runner-up Jacksonville State of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Home games against Furman of the SoCon and the aforementioned Bucs of Charleston Southern follow. CSU beat the Chants last season in Charleston.
The last road trip outside South Carolina follows on October 8th as the team buses to Boiling Springs to face Gardner-Webb.
After a bye, five of the last six games are all at home as first, CCU hosts Central Connecticut State of the Northeast Conference. Coastal then plays their final road game in FCS at Presbyterian two days before Halloween.
The final four home games are Monmouth, Bryant of the NEC, Liberty on a Thursday night (likely broadcasted on ESPNU) and then Hampton. The finale against the Pirates happens on the opening week of the NCAA FCS Playoffs. However, since Hampton is a part of the MEAC, a league that no longer participates in the FCS Playoffs, there's no scheduling conflict.
The only other team in recent times that had a comparable situation was Old Dominion in 2013. The CAA basically kicked the Monarchs out after announcing their move to Conference USA and FBS. So ODU, as an FCS Independent, made a hodge-podge schedule that included five FBS foes and seven FCS teams. The Monarchs went 8-4, including an 59-38 road win at Idaho, but also included a bad season-ending 80-20 defeat at North Carolina.
Scheduling will get a lot easier in 2017 after Coastal joins the Sun Belt. The Chants are already scheduled for non-conference action hosting UMass in the season opener, then traveling to the revival of UAB two weeks later. Return games for both opponents follow in 2018. AD Matt Hogue said the 2017 and 2018 non-conference schedules should be finalized soon.