The fall season offers two contrasting but equally enjoyable experiences – the relaxation of an autumn retreat to Myrtle Beach and the excitement of a college football Saturday in the South. Now, visitors to America's favorite family beach vacation destination can experience both atmospheres in one extended weekend getaway to Long Bay Resort on the Myrtle Beach oceanfront and Coastal Carolina University in the nearby town of Conway. Once a small college without a football program to call its own, CCU is now the proud owner of a budding national powerhouse that is playing at the top level of college football.
Playing its first season at the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) level, Coastal Carolina has been a program on the rise since its inception in 2003. Winning an impressive seven Big South Conference titles and becoming a fixture in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) playoffs, the Chanticleers (a fancy name for a rowdy rooster) decided to take their game to the next level and go toe-to-toe with the big boys of college football. Coastal Carolina won its FBS debut on Sept. 2 in an exciting 38-28 victory over the UMass Minutemen, kick-starting the local buzz about the team into high gear in the area.
Perhaps just as thrilling as the action on the gridiron is the college football environment that CCU offers football fans of any school affiliation. No matter which home team you root for, it's fun to have a home-away-from-home team to support. The campus is ideal for tailgating in the shade of live oak trees while waiting for the marching band to lead the crowd into the newly renovated Brooks Stadium. Expanded to hold a comfortable but excited crowd of more than 15,000 fans, Brooks Stadium offers a cozy atmosphere to root for the Chants – and there is plenty to cheer about these days at CCU.
Founded as a satellite campus for the University of South Carolina (the nickname “Chanticleers” is a rooster-related tribute to the “Gamecocks”), Coastal Carolina broke away and gained its academic and athletic independence while starting a steady rise up the NCAA ranks. For the football program, the big step came this season by joining the Sun Belt Conference of the FBS, putting the Coastal Carolina program in a grouping with in-state teams like reigning national champion Clemson and former parent school South Carolina, as well as all the other top college football programs in the nation.
While Coastal Carolina does not attract the massive crowds and the national TV cameras like the more established programs, it does provide an enjoyable environment for families and a quality product on the gridiron. The sound of the band and cheering fans, along with the hard-hitting play between the lines, create a level of excitement you can only find in college football.
Coastal Carolina has five more home games left on the schedule this fall – vs. Western Illinois on Sept. 23 (Youth Day), vs. Georgia State on Oct. 7 (CCU Family Weekend), vs. Texas State on Oct. 28 (Homecoming), 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 http://www.goccusports.com/tickets.
Guests at Long Bay Resort can spend their sunny days relaxing on the beach or playing in our indoor and outdoor water facilities before making the 15-mile trek to CCU to see the Chants in action. Pack a picnic basket and hang out with fellow fans before kickoff, then unwind from the fired-up atmosphere after the game by having a nightcap on your private oceanfront balcony at Long Bay Resort. It's the perfect way to spend a fall vacation in Myrtle Beach.