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There's nothing like soaking up some sunshine on an autumn Saturday afternoon in Myrtle Beach, except perhaps for spending the day in a festive college football environment. Guests at the Caribbean Resort & Villas have the opportunity to enjoy both by staying at our oceanfront retreat and catching the Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers in gridiron action.
Located about 15 miles inland from the Caribbean Resort, just off Highway 501, CCU is a small but rapidly growing college with a football program that is also on the move. After spending the past four seasons ranked among the top FCS (formerly known as Division I-AA) teams in the nation, the Chants are making the transition to the FBS, the sport’s highest level, over the next couple seasons.
Making the move from the small-school Big South Conference to the mid-major Sun Belt Conference after capturing a string of Big South titles in the 2010s, a transitioning Coastal won't be able to play in college football’s postseason until 2018. But the Chanticleers will be playing for respect as they move up to the top level with a schedule that includes final showdowns with old rivals and inaugural meetings with new rivals. The 2016 season promises to be an exciting one as the school takes the next step in a wave of recent successes.
If the name Coastal Carolina sounds familiar to sports fans nationwide, that's because the Chants have exploded on to the national sports scene in recent months. In June, Coastal Carolina shocked the college baseball world by winning the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. The underdog Chants drew supporters from all over the country as they shocked one big-name school after another en route to the finals, where they took two out of three games from national powerhouse Arizona in the championship series.
That same month, Coastal Carolina alum and PGA Tour star Dustin Johnson captured his first major championship at the U.S. Open. In July, fellow alum Amber Campbell won the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials in the women's hammer throw and went on to represent Team USA in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she finished sixth — the best showing ever by an American woman. Coastal has also enjoyed recent success in men's basketball, men's soccer and women's track and field.
But football is the sport that draws the most fans and interest, as that Chants average about 10,000 in home attendance (not bad for a campus of only 12,000 students) at Brooks Stadium, which opened in 2003 for the Chants' inaugural season. The stadium is already slated for expansion to accommodate the larger crowds for FBS opponents, but the current design provides the perfect atmosphere for big-time football in a small-time atmosphere. Fans don’t have to endure the traffic jams caused by the huge crowds at Clemson and South Carolina games, but the tailgate atmosphere is still on a high level for the Chanticleers.
That brings us to another point: Exactly what is a Chanticleer? The short answer is a rooster, the mightiest in the barnyard. The long answer dates back to the school's roots as a satellite campus for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. When the school gained its independence in 1983, Coastal Carolina wanted its own identity while choosing a mascot in keeping with that of the Gamecocks. An English professor recommended Chanticleers from the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, and the Chants moniker was hatched.
Fans dress in the school colors of teal and tailgate under live oak trees around the scenic campus. The crow of the rooster signals that it’s time to put down the chicken wings and make your way to the stadium to cheer the Chants on to victory. Coastal has some quality home games on the 2016 schedule, including Florida A&M (Sept. 10, 7 p.m.), Furman (Sept. 24, 6 p.m.), Charleston Southern (Oct. 1, 6 p.m.), Central Connecticut State (Oct. 22, 2 p.m.), Monmouth (Nov. 5, 2 p.m.), Bryant (Nov. 12, 2 p.m.), Liberty (Nov. 17, 7 p.m.) and Hampton (Nov. 26, 2 p.m.). Game times are subject to change based on TV scheduling. For ticket information, visit www.goccusports.com.
After a great game-day experience, head back to the Caribbean Resort & Villas and enjoy the home field advantage of the best oceanfront retreat in Myrtle Beach.