Since this is the first meeting between the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina on the football field, there is no history, but there are a couple of historic story lines to talk about.
The Gamecocks have played in-state schools such as The Citadel, S.C. State, Wofford and Furman a number of times over the years. So why is this the first time USC and Coastal are meeting on the gridiron? It is, in part, because Coastal did not field a football team until 2003, and in part because of a “family” feud.
It may come as surprise to those of you under 25, but when the school was founded in 1954 as Coastal Carolina Junior College, its sports teams’ mascot was the Trojans. But after the school became a regional campus in the USC system in 1959, it was changed to the Chanticleer, the proud, witty rooster made famous in “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, to make it more relevant to the Gamecock mascot of the main campus.
In 1993, however, the trustees of the school decided to end their affiliation with USC and return Coastal to an independent university, but the mascot stuck. While it was never aired in public, Carolina’s trustees were miffed about the decision and adopted an informal “hands off” policy toward Coastal.
Never miss a local story.
When Eric Hyman became USC’s athletics director, he began a policy of playing an in-state school (addition to Clemson), and every season since 2006 (with the exception of 2009) the Gamecocks have had one on the schedule.
Another story line is about the two coaches in the program’s history, David Bennett and Joe Moglia.
Under Bennett, the Chanticleers were 63-39 with four Big South Conference titles and two FCS playoff appearances. It was the first at-large bid ever given to a team from the Big South. But after a bizarre press conference rant in which he urged his players “to be more like dogs than cats,” he was fired in December of 2011 after a 7-4 season.
Moglia earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Fordham University, and his master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Delaware. For 16 years he was a high school and college football coach, including a stint as defensive coordinator at Dartmouth College from 1981-1983.
After the 1983 football season ended, Moglia left coaching for Wall Street, and over the next 20 years he became a billionaire. With the desire to return to coaching, Moglia became an unpaid voluntary assistant coach/mentor for the University of Nebraska football team in 2008.
On Nov. 10, 2010, Moglia was named as the head coach of the new United Football League franchise, the Virginia Destroyers. A season later, he was named President and head coach of the Omaha Nighthawks.
On Dec. 20, 2011, Moglia was hired by Coastal Carolina to replace Bennett.
The decision was blasted by some alumni and several media outlets. Bleacher Report columnist Alan Black wrote: “Let's not sugarcoat what Coastal Carolina's administration has done. They fired a successful coach and replaced him with with an unqualified billionaire who has plenty of money but almost no coaching experience or success.
“Coastal Carolina’s hire of Joe Moglia is an absolute travesty, completely trampling on the integrity and amateurism of college sports. Hopefully no other schools follow Coastal Carolina’s lead, for it is a dishonorable and slippery slope that the school has begun to tread.”
Coach Moglia answered his critics by leading Coastal to the 2012 Big South Conference Championship, for which he was named 2012 Big South Coach of the Year.
The fact that that Coastal is 10-1 this season and headed back to the playoffs with the Big South Conference's automatic bid, is further proof that Moglia and his staff can coach.
Consider these stats:
In the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision or Division I-AA) - Big South statistics, Coastal ranks:
1st - 1st in third down conversions (.546, 77-of-141)
1st - 1st in fourth down conversions (.857, 6-of-7)
1st - 1st in red zone offense (.940, scored on 63-of-67 times in the red zone)
1st - 1st in fewest turnovers committed (9 total)
1st - 1st in fewest tackles for loss allowed (3.45 per game)
3rd - 1st in rushing (283.9 ypg)
3rd - 1st in scoring offense (45.5 ppg)
3rd - 1st in fewest fumbles lost (3 total)
4th - 1st in first downs (289 total)
8th - 1st in total offense (512.5 ypg)
9th - 1st in passing efficiency (155.93 rating)
14th - 1st fewest passes intercepted (6)
16th - 1st in completion percentage (.652, 193-of-296)
As you can see, Coastal is a very good football team, and the Gamecocks will need to take this game very seriously and not be looking toward next week's
Coastal is a very good football team, and the Gamecocks will need to take this game very seriously and not be looking toward next week’s regular-season finale against Clemson, if they are to avoid an upset.
It's a great time to be a Gamecock!