CONWAY — Hunter Yurachek said that when he took over as Coastal Carolina University’s athletic director about three years ago, he started hearing the question almost immediately – when are the Chanticleers going to get South Carolina on the schedule?
Well, now he has the answer.
Yurachek announced Wednesday that Coastal and South Carolina will meet on the football field next Nov. 23 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia and that the Chants and Gamecocks have also scheduled baseball games for 2014 in Columbia and 2015 in Conway.
“Obviously, those of you that are close to Coastal Carolina know that is something that our fans have been hungering for since we established a football program 10 years ago,” Yurachek said.
It will be the first meeting in football between the schools and the first regular-season meeting in baseball since a 2002 game in Myrtle Beach. Yurachek had acknowledged a while back that he was discussing the possibility with then-South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman and that a football meeting with the Gamecocks was likely in 2016 or soon thereafter. But both programs found themselves with an opening for next season and a desire to make it happen, and so Yurachek and new South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner made it a reality.
“Obviously within the [first] week that I was here one of the first things that people mentioned to me as an athletic director [was], ‘When are you going to be able to secure a game with the University of South Carolina,’” Yurachek said. “Eric Hyman was gracious enough to reach out to me during that first week, give me some of the history between Coastal Carolina and South Carolina and, again, when coach Tanner called a few weeks ago, there are some issues with the Southeastern Conference schedule with their expansion [and] obviously with us losing [departing Big South member] Stony Brook next year it opened up a window to play them a lot sooner than we anticipated.”
As for that history Yurachek mentioned, though, making these games happen had not been as simple as just finding a slot on the schedule. He acknowledged that again on Wednesday.
“From what I’ve been told, there was some friction obviously back in the early 90s when Coastal Carolina made the decision to break away from the South Carolina system, and so I think there was some heartache over that decision by Coastal Carolina,” he said. “And I think that’s been the biggest hold-up, at least [from] what I’ve been told. I’m not a part of that history. I’m a part of this history moving forward, and I’m glad that we’re able to get this game done.”
Yurachek said that in addition to Hyman and Tanner, USC associate athletic director Charles Waddell and South Carolina State Representative Liston Barfield were also helpful in putting the agreement together.
“We’ve talked about it for a long time,” CCU baseball coach Gary Gilmore said of his own discussions with Tanner. “There were some obstacles in our way that he couldn’t make go away and I couldn’t either. And now they’re not in our way.”
The Chants and Gamecocks still managed to meet on the baseball field in 2010 when Coastal hosted South Carolina in NCAA super regional play. That was a memorable series as a packed house at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ ballpark watched the Gamecocks edge Coastal in two one-run games for a trip to the College World Series, and the agreement announced Wednesday is likely just the start of building that rivalry going forward. Gilmore said there is talk of trying to play two games every season – one in Columbia and one in Conway – in future years.
“I think it’s a great moment for Coastal, our university [and] a huge one for our baseball program to be able to get back in and compete with arguably the last few years the best program in the country,” Gilmore said. “... To be able to play a home and home with them, it is a great moment for me.”
The baseball meetings will surely be more competitive than the football clash. Coastal is 0-6 all-time against FBS programs and lost 59-0 in 2011 at Georgia the only time it played an SEC team.
But the football agreement holds more meaning that what happens on the field.
“While under normal circumstances I’m not crazy about us playing those types of games, I think that there’s an extraordinary opportunity here for Coastal to frankly be able to do this with the tradition and the history and the relationships that go back 50 years with Coastal and South Carolina,” CCU football coach Joe Moglia said. “I think the opportunity for us to do this is one legitimate honest-to-God exception to that guideline. So we’re excited about that opportunity. ... South Carolina is different for us than somebody else in the FBS.”
It will be the final game on the schedule for the Chants next season. Coastal also released the rest of its 2013 non-conference football schedule and will play at South Carolina State on Aug. 31, host Furman on Sept. 7, visit Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 14, host Hampton on Sept. 21, visit Elon on Sept. 28 and host Charlotte on Nov. 2.
As for the Chants and Gamecocks, Yurachek mentioned that the schools’ men’s basketball coaches – Cliff Ellis and Frank Martin – have also talked about potentially scheduling each other, but nothing has been set up yet. In regard to the football game, he said the financial terms of what Coastal will receive for making the trip to Columbia have not been finalized yet but that it would be on par with the other guarantee-games the Chants have played with similar programs.
“The financial piece is not astronomical,” Yurachek said. “Again, this was not done for the finances of it; this was done so that Coastal Carolina would have the opportunity to play South Carolina.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.