CONWAY — Coastal Carolina released its 2014 football schedule Wednesday, formally completing a process of restructuring the slate after reaching an agreement to get out of a previously scheduled game at Clemson.
Aligning with head coach Joe Moglias desire to not play any guaranteed-money games with FBS-level schools, the Chanticleers had arranged for South Carolina State to take on the contract to play at Clemson. In turn, that caused several other dominoes to fall in the process of reshuffling the schedule before it could be officially released.
The schedule includes five home games and seven road contests and features three programs -- non-conference foes South Carolina State and Furman and Big South rival Charleston Southern -- that were ranked in the top-25 of The Sports Networks final 2013 FCS media poll.
It was really a puzzle, Coastal athletic director Hunter Yurachek said. ... Scheduling has become more of a challenge because of the Big South Conference only having five conference games in these years where you can play 12 games. Youre trying to find seven non-conference games to schedule into certain windows [while teams from some other conferences] are only looking for three or four non-conference games. Thats the biggest part of the challenge right now. Ideally wed like to get the Big South to the point where we have eight or nine teams and you dont have to schedule so many non-conference games.
Youd love to have the schedule done two to three years in advance, but with all the conference movement and the desire to remove the Clemson game from our schedule, we couldnt get it done as far in advance as we would have liked.
The Chants, who went 12-3 last season while reaching the third round of the FCS playoffs and finishing with a No. 7 national ranking in Moglias second season, play five instate schools in all.
They open with two road games, at The Citadel in Charleston on Aug. 30 in the first ever meeting between the schools and at North Carolina A&T on Sept. 6. That game in Greensboro, N.C., was added after the Clemson game was dropped.
As another outcome of that move, Coastal was initially scheduled to open the season at home against South Carolina State, but that game became in flux with the transfer of the Clemson contract. Ultimately, it was moved to Sept 13 as the Chants will host the Bulldogs (No. 25 final ranking in 2013) in their home opener at Brooks Stadium.
They are then back on the road at Florida A&M on Sept. 20 in Tallahassee, Fla. That was another late addition to the schedule to get it to 12 games and will be the first meeting of the programs. There was the option to instead add a Division II opponent to give the Chants another home game and an even six home and six away split, but Yurachek said he and Moglia were in agreement that they didnt want to play any non-Division I teams.
Moving on in the schedule, Coastal then hosts Elon on Sept. 27 in a return game from the teams meeting last year and travels to Furman (No. 22 ranking in 2013) on Oct. 4 in Greenville for a continuation of that series.
The Chants open Big South play Oct. 11 at Presbyterian in Clinton before their bye week.
They then host Charleston Southern (No. 24 ranking last year) on Oct. 25 and visit Gardner-Webb on Nov. 1 in Boiling Springs, N.C., before taking one final break from Big South play to travel to Charlotte on Nov. 8 in another return game after the teams first meeting in 2013.
The schedule concludes in Conway with home games against Big South newcomer Monmouth on Nov. 15 and rival Liberty on Nov. 22.
Yurachek said the process of filling out the schedule was also complicated when Duquesne and North Carolina Central pulled out of verbal commitments to play in Conway this fall.
As the season progressed and we climbed to the third-ranked team in the country, both of those schools declined to execute those verbal contracts, Yurachek said. They had contracts in hand, but called to say Were no longer interested. They didnt say, Were not going to be playing because youre third in the country, but you can read into that what you want to. The success of our team became a challenge for us to schedule games, especially home games. ...
It would be our preference to play six [home] and six [away], and it just didnt work out that way and thats a tribute to Coach Moglia and the success of his team.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.