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You don't have to be a college graduate to enjoy a visit to the nearby Coastal Carolina University campus, and you don't have to be a college football fan to have a good time cheering for the mighty Chanticleers. Visitors to Myrtle Beach can experience both thrills by visiting the local college and rooting for the Grand Strand's home team.
Located in the neighboring town of Conway, about 12 miles from the Caribbean Resort & Villas, Coastal Carolina is home to one of the South's fastest growing campuses and the nation's No. 1-ranked FCS football team. The Chanticleers, the only college mascot taken straight from the pages of Chaucer, are the mightiest rooster in the barnyard and also happen to be sitting atop the college football polls with a 4-0 record.
The Chants provide an ideal small college football experience. Tailgate on the scenic campus outside Brooks Stadium with fellow fans who smoke barbecue and oysters in the parking lots while tossing around the pigskin, then head to the beautiful stadium to see some quality entertainment on the field. Watch the marching band parade around campus before entering the stadium, and see the Chants defend the home turf on the only teal-colored football field in the nation.
The Chants also boast one of the nation's most prolific offenses, led by All-American candidates Alex Ross at quarterback and De'Angelo Henderson at running back. The CCU football team has an overwhelming winning record at home as crowds of 10,000-plus flock to "The Coop" to crow for the Chants and soak up the college experience. Unlike the state’s major college football programs at the University of South Carolina and Clemson University, CCU offers a small-school experience that can be infectious for fans visiting the campus and attending a football game for the first time.
Just as the school has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, the football program has become a bit of a national news story for its unlikely climb to the top of the FCS ranks. Coastal Carolina made some serious waves when it hired former TD Ameritrade CEO Joe Moglia to be its head coach despite the fact that the Fortune 500 tycoon had been away from the sidelines for more than 30 years.
The Chants have an amazing 42-16 record under Moglia, earning at least a share of the Big South Conference championship and advancing to the FCS playoffs each year. Coastal has reached the national quarterfinals the past two years before falling to eventual national champion North Dakota State, but the Chants are poised to take the next step and make a run for a national title in 2015. The rapid growth is likely to continue as Coastal recently announced plans to join the Sun Belt Conference and compete at the NCAA's top level in 2016.
Coastal has four more regular season home games remaining, beginning with homecoming against Alabama A&M on Oct. 3. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., but there are a full day of homecoming activities planned for the day and night of the game. The Chants return the next week for an Oct. 10 game against Presbyterian at 2 p.m., then hit the road before hosting Gardner-Webb on Nov. 7 at 3:30 p.m., and Kennesaw State on Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. Times are subject to change due to TV schedules and game-day tickets are available at the stadium box office.