There are endless reasons to visit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in the fall – the uncrowded beaches, streets and businesses, the mild autumn weather, the affordable offseason rates. Now, you can add one more item to that list – big-time college football. Although the Grand Strand may be better known for its wet-and-wild water sports and championship golf courses, Coastal Carolina University football in nearby Conway, South Carolina, is the latest talk of the town after the mighty Chanticleers recently took a giant leap forward to the highest level of college football.
While the state’s bigger football programs, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, draw the larger crowds and national television exposure, Coastal Carolina offers major college football in a minor-league setting. That's why many local fans who are supporters of the Tigers and Gamecocks are now deciding to watch those games on TV while also rooting for the Chanticleers on the side and enjoying a unique environment for college football. Many visitors to the Myrtle Beach area are also catching on to the Chanticleers and combining a game with a weekend beach getaway.
Located about 15 miles inland from downtown Myrtle Beach and Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort, Coastal Carolina's charming campus surrounds the freshly renovated Brooks Stadium. A recent expansion project brought the seating capacity up to 15,000 seats – just the right size to take in some FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision)-level excitement and tailgating fun without dealing with the heavy traffic and tightly packed stands. But even better than the mid-major college football atmosphere is the product the Coastal Carolina football program is putting on the field, giving fans plenty of reasons to cheer.
Starting its football program from scratch in 2003, Coastal Carolina has quickly moved its way up the ranks while winning over new fans in the process. After winning seven Big South Conference championships and making deep playoff runs at the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) level, Coastal Carolina made the decision to move up to FBS and join the Sun Belt Conference. The step up required stadium expansion and a tougher schedule against bigger-name teams, but it has also come with increased exposure for the school and offers a great way to spend fall Saturdays for its fans.
Game days involve tailgate parties under tents and live oak trees that offer shady spots to grill some burgers and toss around the ol' pigskin. The band marches across campus, and fans fall in line behind the procession to Brooks Stadium for the main event. The Chanticleers (“Chants” for short) claim one of the most original mascots in college sports, representing a rooster taken from the pages of Geoffrey Chaucer’s classic “The Canterbury Tales.” A life-sized Chanticleer (Chauncey) fires up the crowd, and the public address system pipes in sounds of a rooster crowing at key moments.
Coastal Carolina made more school history on opening night on Sept. 2 with a thrilling 38-28 victory over visiting UMass, marking the Chants' first win as an FBS team to add more excitement to the campus and community. The Chants have five home games remaining this season – vs. Western Illinois on Sept. 23 (Youth Day, which offers free souvenirs and discounted admission for children), vs. Georgia State on Oct. 7 (CCU Family Weekend), homecoming against Texas State on Oct. 28, vs. Troy on Nov. 11 (Military Appreciation Day and Hall of Fame Day), and vs. Georgia Southern Dec. 2 (Senior Day).
For ticket information, visit www.goccusports.com/tickets. And for the best place to stay and play before and after the big game, book your reservations with us at Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort, in the heart of Myrtle Beach.