After playing a bulk of its schedule away from home last year, the Coastal Carolina football team will host six of its 11 games at Brooks Stadium in 2015, including a stretch of four in a row in the first half of the season.
The Chanticleers finally released their upcoming football schedule Monday, revealing a slate that features six opponents that posted winning records last season and a new addition to the Big South lineup.
“We’ve talked philosophically about what we think our schedule should be, and ideally we would love to be able to play strong FCS programs within a reasonable drive of our campus,” Chants head coach Joe Moglia said. “I think that only enhances rivalries long-term, etc. … I think the schedule we’re playing, you’ve got some teams that are nationally ranked, some teams with great traditions, you’ve got some rivalries in there. I think it’s a nationally competitive schedule. I think it’s ideally what we want.”
Coastal Carolina, coming off back-to-back 12-win seasons while reaching the NCAA FCS quarterfinals both years, will open its 2015 schedule with road games at Furman and South Carolina State before setting up camp at Brooks Stadium for the next four weeks.
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The Chants close non-conference play with home games against Western Illinois, Bryant and Alabama A&M while staying at home the following week as well for their Big South opener against Presbyterian before getting a week off.
“Having four straight home games hopefully will give everyone the opportunity to get into the routine, not only our normal alumini but also fans from around the area, to get into a routine of coming out to Brooks Stadium every week,” athletic director Matt Hogue said.
As for the first part of the schedule, this will actually mark the second straight season Coastal Carolina travels to Furman as part of a contract that ends with the Paladins returning to Conway in 2016. Furman was 3-9 last year but took the Chants to two overtimes.
The continuation of the South Carolina State series, meanwhile, comes with some uncertainty as state legislators have discussed shutting the university down for two years due to financial issues. Hogue says because the general assembly stretches into June, it’s hard to pinpoint when there will be a clear determination on the matter.
“Certainly we continue to monitor that situation and from their standpoint we know that’s got to be tough right now,” Hogue said. “We are in discussion with some other schools about possibly filling [that spot], but at this point most of the information we’ve received and what we’re hearing is we’ll move forward to play that game as scheduled. …
“If we begin to hear word there’s a different outcome we’ll have to move fairly quickly at that point. But the other aspect is you’re going to have quite a few other schools and a conference that is affected if that occurs. Right now we hope to move forward with playing South Carolina State.”
The Bulldogs were 8-4 last season.
Moving on in the schedule, this will mark the second meeting with Western Illinois, which defeated Coastal Carolina 17-10 in a 2010 FCS playoff game at Brooks Stadium. The Leathernecks haven’t had a winning season since that year, though, finishing 5-7 in 2014.
Bryant, which was ranked as high as No. 21 in the FCS national polls last year while going 8-3, and Alabama A&M, which went 4-8 in 2014, will be playing the Chants for the first time.
Bryant was a late addition after Western Carolina bought itself out of its contract to return a game to Coastal Carolina after hosting the Chants in 2011. The contract for that two-game series stipulated a $150,000 buyout.
The Chants in turn will pay a guarantee to Bryant as there is no return game scheduled, but the terms of that contract were not available.
After a bye the weekend of Oct. 17, Coastal Carolina continues conference play with road games at Monmouth (6-5 last season) and Charleston Southern (8-4) before hosting Gardner-Webb (4-8) and Kennesaw State, which enters its first season in the Big South.
The Chants’ regular-season finale, fittingly, will come at Liberty, which dealt Coastal Carolina its lone regular-season loss last year, winning 15-14 on a blocked field goal in the last game on the schedule.
That propelled the Flames (9-5) into the playoffs for the first time in program history and knocked the Chants from the No. 1 ranking in the FCS Coaches Poll.
The Chants still ended up with a consensus No. 5 national ranking in the FCS polls while making their third straight playoff appearance and will be expecting more of the same this fall.
Tickets for the upcoming season are not yet on sale.