Now that Coastal is No. 1, the hard part is staying there

col-tbuzz (2)We’re No. 1! Go ahead and say it, Coastal Carolina fans. It rolls off the tongue nicely, especially when you’re saying it – and meaning it – for the very first time.

The Chanticleer football team went where no CCU athletic program has been before on Monday when it received the No. 1 FCS ranking from one of two national polls. As the only 10-0 team in the nation, Coastal just keeps piling up points and breaking records.

It’s a wonderful but unfamiliar feeling for longtime Coastal fans, who until now have only been able to abbreviate the “We’re No. 1 sentiment. The “C-I-N-O” chant (Coastal Is Number One) has only been prayer until now. It has finally been answered.

Sure, Chanticleer fans have had plenty to crow about over the years, but most have been near brushes with greatness. The men’s basketball teams crashed two Big Dances back in the early ’90s, but NCAA sanctions virtually buried the program for two decades.

The baseball program has been arguably its most successful for the longest period of time, but several opportunities to make the milestone trip to Omaha have had unhappy endings. Cross country, soccer, golf, tennis – all have had success, but no true No. 1s.

Even the football program’s short history has seen heartbreak – the Super Safety debacle that cost Coastal a playoff berth in 2005 and the “Three Flags Over Conway” game in 2011 when the Chants committed three unsportsmanlike conduct penalities in the final 2 minutes to set up a game-losing field goal by Gardner-Webb.

It was that game, we now know via public e-mails, that prompted the hiring of long-shot candidate Joe Moglia to take over the CCU football program. The decision to fire David Bennett based on the then-vague “return on investment” theory initially divided Rooster Boosters. But the short time and first-class manner in which Moglia has taken the program to the next level, and then to the top of it, is truly remarkable.

So enjoy it, CCU fans, you certainly deserve it. It’s a magical time to be a Chanticleer fan, but along with it comes a bit of a responsibility. Are you prepared to pack the stands, even on cold days like this Saturday, to support the team? Will you be in the stands for those home playoff games that are sure to come your way, even if it conflicts with the South Carolina-Clemson game?

Being No. 1 in November is nice, but it’s the beginning of the journey at the next level. As hard as it is to get to No. 1, it’s even hardier to stay there. The key is to capitalize on the momentum and build a proud program where being No. 1 is an annual and achievable goal.

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