If Coastal Carolina wants respect from the top teams in the Sun Belt Conference, it can earn it on Saturday at Appalachian State.
Coastal has started 3-1 for the second consecutive year through its non-conference schedule, giving the Chanticleers hope for a winning season and possible bowl berth with a decent showing in Sun Belt Conference games.
But the Chants have gone 2-6 in each of the past two years in Sun Belt play to finish near the bottom of the conference standings in its first two seasons in the league.
A big part of that is going 0-6 against the three teams that have clearly been the class of the league over the past four seasons.
Appalachian State has gone 7-1 in each of the past four seasons in Sun Belt games and shared or won outright the past three league championships while also going 4-0 in bowl games for a combined 41-11 overall record since 2015.
Troy has gone 20-4 in conference play over the past three seasons, and Arkansas State has gone 26-6 in Sun Belt games since 2015. The Trojans and Red Wolves have shared or won outright two titles apiece in the past four seasons.
The Chants may need to defeat one of the Sun Belt triumvirate in order to earn a fair amount of respect in the conference, particularly from those top three teams.
“We’d love to beat any of those teams, but for us we’ve got to get to their level, the consistent level that they play with,” CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “Consistently those teams are there for a purpose and a reason, and we want to get there. So our challenge is how do we get there and be consistent like those guys are?”
The Chants have not been competitive against either Troy or Arkansas State, losing two games to Troy by a combined 87-38 and two games to Arkansas State by a combined 95-33.
The games against the Mountaineers have been more competitive, with an aggregate score of 60-36 including a 23-7 loss at home last year against a backup quarterback and a very competitive 37-29 loss at Kidd Brewer Stadium in 2017.
The 30,000-seat stadium is sold out for Saturday’s game. “It’s going to be a big-time game, a big-time atmosphere,” said Mountaineers coach Eliah Drinkwitz, 36, who replaced Scott Satterfield following his five successful seasons in Boone.
At 3-0 and coming off a 34-31 win at North Carolina last week, Appalachian State is receiving a lot of votes in both the Associated Press and Amway Coaches top-25 national polls to rank 32nd and 33rd, respectively.
The Mountaineers have the third-longest winning streak in FBS at nine games, behind only Clemson (19) and Ohio State (10), and their 12-game home win streak is tied for the eighth-longest in the nation.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve necessarily singled out one team to beat but you always want to beat the best to be the best,” CCU junior linebacker Teddy Gallagher said. “I think we feel like we can be one of the best teams in this conference. We have some games circled a little bit in our minds, but play every game like it’s the most important game because it’s the next one.”
Docking hits 300
A hat trick by freshman Sam Snaith of the United Kingdom gave Coastal men’s soccer coach Shaun Docking his 300th win Saturday as a college head coach, 3-2 over Radford at the CCU soccer field.
The milestone for Docking comes in his 24th season as a head coach, which includes two seasons at Charleston Southern (1996-1997), where he picked up 20 wins, and 22 at Coastal, where he has won 280. Docking has led CCU to 11 regular season conference titles, 10 conference tournament championships and 14 NCAA Tournament appearances that include four trips to the third round (national quarterfinals).
Coastal baseball’s 2019 recruiting class has been ranked in the top 30 nationally for the third consecutive year by both Perfect Game (perfectgame.org) and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (baseballnews.com) at No. 26 and 28, respectively.
The Chants’ incoming class is the only Sun Belt school in the top 40 and the highest Group of Five Conferences member in the national rankings.
Three Coastal athletic programs achieved the highest grade-point average in their respective sports in 2018-19 in the Sun Belt Conference – women’s basketball, women’s golf and men’s tennis. The women’s golf team had the highest team GPA among all conference teams for the second time in CCU’s first three seasons in the Sun Belt at 3.86, edging Georgia State’s women’s tennis and women’s cross country teams (3.83).
Women’s golf, women’s tennis and men’s tennis have all earned the team GPA award twice in three years.