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Could Coastal Carolina’s Move Affect SoCon?

By Southern Pigskin Staff
SouthernPigskin.com
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Much as we saw a large change among FBS football a few years back, Coastal Carolina’s move to the Sun Belt Conference could put in motion a similar change among FCS football in the south.

Coastal Carolina joined the Sun Belt Conference on Tuesday, leaving behind uncertainty for the Big South Conference, a place the Chanticleers have called home since 1983.  All sports other than football will begin play in the Sun Belt in the 2016-2017 school year.  Chanticleer football, though, will play an FBS transitional season in 2016 and then jump into Sun Belt play in 2017. 

Adding Coastal Carolina, the Sun Belt will have 12 football-playing schools, making the conference eligible to host a postseason championship game.  Early indications are that Coastal Carolina will join Appalachain State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama and Troy in the Eastern Division of the Sun Belt.  Louisiana, Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas State, Texas State, New Mexico State and Idaho would make up the Western Division.


With the Chanticleers' move, what’s next for the Big South?  Coastal Carolina has won three straight Big South football titles and has reached the FCS quarterfinals each of the past two seasons.  With Coastal’s departure, the Big South will lose much of its relevancy on the national level. In fact, the Chanticleers will take with them all but three of the conference's FCS playoff victories. The conference itself remains stable with 11 full members, but with Coastal’s departure, the future of Big South football is very much up in the air.

Stony Brook departed the conference in 2013 to move to the CAA, mainly due to geography.  Being located on Long Island in New York, Stony Brook faced many long trips to play conference foes in the Carolinas-heavy league.

Liberty, which won a playoff game in 2014, has not been shy in making its FBS intentions known, with the Sun Belt being the option that made the most sense. An invitation, however, was never extended.

Monmouth, which joined the league in 2014 and is located in New Jersey, faces many of the geographical issues that Stony Brook faced.

Conference newcomer Kennesaw State, which is located inside the very lucrative Atlanta market, could possibly now be looking for a new home as its program grows under former GA Tech assistant Brian Bohannon.

That leaves only Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian as teams which have limited Division 1 football success along with three of the smallest enrollment figures in FCS football waiting on the bubble.           

Could we be on the cusp of a “CAA-like” Big Southern Conference with 13 football-playing teams split into an east/west division format? It would seemingly make sense that the SoCon and Big South could combine members to formulate a new league.  Using the GA/SC line as the divider:

Big Southern Conference Eastern Division                     

·         Charleston Southern                                              

·         The Citadel

·         Furman

·         Gardner-Webb

·         Presbyterian

·         VMI

·         Wofford

Big Southern Conference Western Division

·         Chattanooga

·         East Tennessee State

·         Kennesaw State

·         Mercer

·         Samford

·         Western Carolina

Much as we saw a large change among FBS football a few years back, Coastal Carolina’s move to the Sun Belt Conference could put in motion a similar change among FCS football in the south.

* Written by Southern Pigskin SoCon contributor Robbie Ross.