Coastal sets ’16 schedule; Sun Belt downsizes to 10

ccufoot-citadelThe Coastal Carolina football program will play a record eight home games and a total of 12 regular-season games in 2016, it was announced Tuesday.

Coastal is in the first of a two-year transition from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). While the 2016 schedule will be exclusively against FCS programs, CCU will not be eligible for postseason play.

“This is an important year for our program as we start our transition to the FBS,” said fifth-year head coach Joe Moglia. “However, we are still an FCS independent this year and have put together a nationally-competitive schedule to reflect that. We are pleased to play eight home games and we are excited to have a final go around with schools with which we have built a good tradition. We talk about wanting to have a program that Coastal Carolina can be proud of and feel both this schedule and this team will accomplish that goal.”

While Coastal Carolina will play eight home games, two of the first three contests in 2016 will be on the road.

The Chanticleers will open the season Sept. 3 on the road versus Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas). Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm and the contest will be the first meeting between the two schools. The Chanticleers will welcome Florida A&M for its home opener on Sept. 10. CCU and FAMU have met on one previous occasion, a 48-3 Chanticleer win in Tallahassee. Coastal will return to the road Sept. 17 to face 2015 NCAA FCS runner-up Jacksonville State (Alabama) in what will be the first meeting between the two programs.

Coastal Carolina will play a pair of home game versus in-state rivals, hosting Furman on Sept. 24 and Charleston Southern Oct. 1. The Chants own a 6-1 advantage over the Paladins, but the margin of victory is just 5.3 points including two overtime games. The CCU-CSU series is closer with Coastal owning an 8-5 advantage. However, the Chanticleers are 5-1 all-time against the Buccaneers at Brooks Stadium.

The Chanticleers will close October with a pair of road games, a home contest and an open date. Coastal will travel to Boiling Springs, N.C., on Oct. 8 to face Gardner-Webb. CCU owns an 11-2 advantage in the all-time series, including a 6-0 mark at Spangler Stadium. After an open date, Coastal will host Central Connecticut State on Oct. 22 in what will be the teams’ first meeting. The Chants will conclude October with a road game at Presbyterian (Oct. 29). CCU is 8-1 all-time versus the Blue Hose and 4-0 all-time in Clinton.

Coastal’s final four contests will all be at Brooks Stadium, starting with Monmouth on Nov. 5. The Chants own a 4-0 advantage in the series with the Hawks. Bryant will return to Conway for a second straight season, facing the Chants on Nov. 12. Coastal claimed a hard-fought 31-17 victory versus the Bulldogs last season, which was the first meeting between the two schools.

As they did last season, Coastal Carolina and Liberty will face each other on a Thursday night this season, Nov. 17 specifically. Liberty is the only school on the schedule to own a winning record over CCU in the all-time series, 7-6, thanks to a 24-21 decision last year in Lynchburg.

The Chanticleers’ will honor its 2016 seniors in the final game of the season with a Nov. 26 date with Hampton. CCU and Hampton have met once before with the Chants winning 50-17 on Sept. 21, 2013.

Coastal Carolina will begin playing as a member of the Sun Belt Conference in 2017 and will be able to compete for a conference title, but will not be bowl eligible until the 2018 season.

* Coastal Carolina’s football travel budget looks a lot more promising after the Sun Belt Conference announced its decision to cut ties with its two westernmost members in 2018.

Beginning with the 2018 football season the Sun Belt Conference will be a 10-team football league. Sun Belt Conference Presidents and Chancellors made the decision to be a 10-team league rather than extend the current membership agreements that are in place with the University of Idaho and New Mexico State University. These agreements will expire following the 2017 football season.

“This was a strategic decision that was reached following a thorough and complete review of our options,” said Sun Belt Conference and Texas State University President Dr. Denise Trauth. “The Sun Belt’s Presidents and Chancellors strongly believe it is in the best interest of the conference to have a core membership of 10 football teams that are geographically located within the ‘footprint’ of the conference and that these 10 members also compete in all conference sports.  This decision, along with the full 12-team membership that goes into place for the 2016-17 season with the addition of Coastal Carolina University, will reduce travel demands and missed class time for all Sun Belt student-athletes – while also furthering the development of regional rivalries within the conference.”

The other nine football-playing members of the conference – Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, UL Lafayette, UL Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State and Troy – will be joined by Coastal Carolina in 2017 to complete the 10-team configuration that will be in place for the 2018 season.

“This 10-team football league will maximize the Sun Belt’s on-field performance, push us to the top ranking of our four peer conferences, and will give us the best opportunity to soon place a team in one of the  College Football Playoff’s New Year’s Day bowl games,” said Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson. “We will also now have serious conversations with our football coaches and athletics directors about conducting a football championship game.  These discussions will take place this spring and a decision will be made in the very near future.”

2016 CCU Football Schedule

9/3 at Lamar
9/10 vs. Florida A&M
9/17 at Jakcsonville State
9/24 vs. Furman
10/1 vs. Charleston Southern
10/8 at Gardner-Webb
10/22 vs. Central Connecticut State
10/29 at Presbyterian College
11/5 vs. Monmouth
11/12 vs. Bryant
11/17 vs. Liberty
11-26 vs. Hampton

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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