For many of the FBS upstarts within the Sun Belt, the most common assessment for them begins with "they have a lot of potential, but..."
As most schools learn in some way or another, the transition up to FBS usually exposes some warts within a program's infrastructure within 3-5 years. Georgia State faceplanted before learning how to walk. South Alabama had a decent start and but might be losing steam. Texas State's learning you can't be an FBS power without an FBS-caliber athletic department. Even Georgia Southern learned they're not above losing a successful head coach to Tulane.
Enter Coastal Carolina. The wonderfully named Chanticleers, a historical baseball heavyweight who will join the conference as a full member in 2017, are the newest entry in Karl Benson's vision for a southeastern-oriented powerhouse.
They have a ton of intangibles in their favor, and have a program competitive enough to where they could roar out of the gate just like their counterparts in Boone and Statesboro. Yet in terms of facilities and fan support, there are reasons to speculate that the momentum might not last.
- Myrtle Beach, aka the dressed down Miami, FL of the Sun Belt.
- That brand new FBS smell with none of the FBS disappointment. Oh, the possibilities.
- Their tiny, nice football stadium is about to become nicer and...less tiny.
- Plenty of recent conference titles and FCS playoff appearances gives some momentum to springboard from into FBS.
- Even with the expansion, Brooks Stadium will sit at 20,000 and will be the smallest Sun Belt stadium once Idaho moves out. And they're still not sure they'll be able to fill it, or even pay for it.
- Even with their recent run of success, CCU has never made it past the quarterfinals in the FCS playoffs and don't bring the infrastructure or prestige Georgia Southern or Appalachian State did.
- Even by Sun Belt standards, their academic profile is, ah, not great. If you care about that sort of thing.
- South Carolina's recruiting base likely can handle a 3rd FBS team, but it's no Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, or Texas.
- The teal field, which is both a unique recruiting pitch and one hell of an eyesore. Get off of my
Making the case for why Coastal Carolina should be higher than 7th: Haisten Willis, Managing Editor & Georgia Southern Beat Writer
Coastal Carolina has a ton of potential, and already shows signs of realizing it.
The Chanticleers perform very well on the football field as-is. They began play in 2003 and placed both a quarterback and running back in the NFL within five years of the first game. CCU remains an FCS powerhouse today, even though the postseason has been a struggle.
With the move to FBS and an expanding stadium, there's a ton to sell FBS recruits on building a new tradition and a winner, not to mention the obvious draw of Myrtle Beach. For anyone pointing to F_U and saying the beach doesn't matter, remember also that the entire state of South Carolina sports just two FBS programs at the moment, a far cry from some of the oversaturated football states around it.
I've actually been to a CCU game and remember walking by young tailgaters playing beer pong, partying and generally resembling a real college football atmosphere. This isn't (insert commuter school) who decided to shoot straight to FBS. Coastal has been around for 14 years, and they've done it well.
Lastly, the small stadium can be seen as a strength rather than a weakness. You want a full stadium, not a big one. Let's face it, the Sun Belt needs more dogs.
If you were playing NCAA football in an online dynasty...
You just said "screw it" and went with the one Sun Belt team that had an A+ rating in Campus Atmosphere for recruiting. You're hoping against all hope that one of the two Lee Corso lines the EA developers forgot to edit out was him in some misguided attempt to speak French yelling "CHANTICLEERS" at full volume instead.
You want the purest, most authentic party school experience while dominating your rivals on the field. In fact, it's so authentic that a pitcher of rum punch just appeared in your hands. Now you just drank it in one chug. Congratulations! That teal field seems like a normal color to you now.
If you choose this job in real life...
You either have an extremely keen interest in canine and feline cognitive functions and the fragility of screen doors or you're the chairman of TD Ameritrade.
No, seriously. I'm not making this up. Look it up.
Anyway, that's CCU's entire coaching history. Future coaching hires will likely be an up and comer with southeast connections or a washed up Power 5 coach who wants to keep coaching while emulating Steve Spurrier's regimen of endless rounds of golf whenever he's not maintaining his beach bod. Wait a minut--
#SPURRIERTOCCU MUST CREDIT UNDERDOG DYNASTY DOT COM
The Sun Belt has plenty of strangely fun schools to follow, but Coastal Carolina just might be the wackiest and most compelling story of them all. It has all the oddities of an FCS school trying to stand out but the ambitions for so much more. Yet is it possible to build a fanbase at a party school on the beach where college football is a relatively new affair?
Right now there's loads of potential and a short enough history to where any structural issues within the program could be swept away by a run of dominant winning seasons. But those structural issues could also turn it into another South Alabama 5 years in, albeit with a nicer stadium. CCU gets the nod above the 5 schools below them because of their potential upside, but they need to establish a successful FBS track record before becoming a top 5 Sun Belt job.
Best jobs in the Sun Belt countdown:
7. Coastal Carolina