What the Coastal Baseball Team’s National Championship Means

I took the Fourth of July weekend to recharge from the two weeks of fun and craziness that resulted from the Coastal Carolina University baseball team’s victorious College World Series run. Over the last couple days I tried to pin down what I thought was the biggest story of this remarkable feat. With the local and national media already covering all the angles from the impact on the university to the legacy of Gary Gilmore to the legendary Cinderella story to the memorable cast of fun student-athletes and quirky dugout props, I looked for something a little different.

It turned out that the “something” I mentioned above is really two things for me. Yes, when I remember the College World Series run 20 years from now, I will remember a couple key things.

1. A national championship was won
2. A community was recognized

In regards to my first point, I don’t even think about the underdog aspect of it. You see, numerous powerhouse programs compete for the baseball national championship each and every year. Many more average programs and mid-majors do as well. At the end of it all, 294 Division I college baseball teams come away disappointed. Only one team stands atop that mountain as champions. It doesn’t matter if you are a favorite, a Cinderella, or a dark horse, winning a national championship is the prized goal.

The Coastal baseball team attained it.

When you open up a book of baseball history 100 years from now and look at the list of champions, you won’t see any information on whether a certain school was supposed to win or not. Rather, you will just see that school’s name.

So what I am trying to say is that I realize the fact that a medium-sized, mid-major university winning the College World Series is a big selling point right now. However, over time that part of the story might fade but Coastal’s achievement as the best team in college baseball in 2016 never will. Let that soak in. Coastal Carolina University is home to a national champion and nothing will ever take that away. I love an underdog story but to me they are just the champs.

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The other part of the College World Series experience I will remember is the remarkable support and pride that swept over the whole Grand Strand area and much of the state over the past few weeks. Now I know any community will embrace a team when it brings back a championship but this situation is just a little different.

Our state is home to two giants in higher education, Clemson and South Carolina. Sometimes a young institution such as ours with a smaller enrollment and alumni base can get overlooked by others. The run to baseball glory brought national attention squarely on Coastal Carolina University and #TEALnation shined. Just as our student-athletes exhibited passion and pride on the diamond each night, the Conway community represented itself with the same principles as well. Other Palmetto State citizens saw this and jumped on.

Covering the welcome back event at the airport on Thursday night was insane. There was an energy in the air that was unmistakable. Although my career has been short, it was one of the coolest moments I have ever experienced. When the student-athletes ran off that plane they brought some leftover Omaha mojo and combined it with the hunger and desire that was brought by the crowd, producing an unbelievable scene. The atmosphere was awesome and our Coastal Carolina community was fostering it.

The same show of support was on display a day later at the ceremony in Springs Brooks Stadium. The place was packed with teal and it was almost a surreal moment. However, with the national championship trophy resting comfortably on the podium it reminded us all that it was in fact reality and that the Coastal Carolina/Conway community was alive and well.

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I may never be associated again with a school that wins a major Division I national championship. Most people never are. I would sincerely like to thank our student-athletes and coaches for taking Coastal Carolina University on this unforgettable ride. Don’t Blink.

Bring on the FCS Playoffs

This morning the bracket was released for the 2014 FCS Playoffs and I must say I am more excited than ever. I have always enjoyed the FCS Playoffs but I have been partial to the bowl system. The latter just appealed to me more because of the matchups, tradition, and prestige that came about from the postseason of the FBS. However, this year I think the FCS tournament has me more jacked than what the FBS has to offer.

The 2014 FCS Bracket (thanks to the @NCAA_FCS twitter account).

The 2014 FCS Bracket (thanks to the @NCAA_FCS twitter account).

But before I talk about the 2014 FCS Playoffs a quick recap from yesterday: Unfortunately Coastal Carolina came just a couple points short of an undefeated season. With the Chants leading the whole second half, Liberty kicked a go-ahead field goal with 1:20 left to take the lead, 15-14. Then, with no timeouts, CCU went on a gustsy drive that set them up for a chip shot game-winning field goal. But it wasn’t meant to be as Liberty busted through the line and blocked the kick. The day didn’t go to complete waste though. I had the pleasure of watching the Montana Grizzlies annihilate and embarrass the Montana State Bobcats in the 114th Brawl of the Wild, 34-7. It was very nice to see Mick Delaney and Jordan Johnson, two great individuals, end their Brawl of the Wild careers in such dominating fashion.

It was Senior Day yesterday at the Coastal game.

It was Senior Day yesterday at the Coastal game.

I am especially excited for the FCS Playoffs this year because I have a few rooting interests. First and foremost, I want to see Coastal Carolina University steamroll through the bracket and win the national championship. The Chants received a #7 seed and a bye. They will play the winner of this Saturday’s Morgan State vs. Richmond game. Yesterday’s loss proved to sting a little today because if Coastal wins on December 6, most likely the team will be traveling to Fargo to play North Dakota State. But you know what? It is definitely a winnable game. The Bison fell once this year and I watched Montana nearly defeat them this season as well. Coastal is definitely capable. But first things first, there is a playoff game in Brooks Stadium in 13 days and I can’t wait to watch it!

Coastal Carolina received a #7 seed and first round bye.

Coastal Carolina received a #7 seed and first round bye (Thanks to the @NCAA_FCS twitter account).

On the other side of the bracket, Montana received an unseeded/at large bid. The Grizzlies will face San Diego next Saturday in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The winner of that game will travel to Cheney to face Eastern Washington on December 6. If the Griz advance, it would be a rematch from earlier this month when the Eagles defeated Montana on the red turf, 36-26. Hopefully the Grizzlies will get revenge on Eastern. If somehow the same result repeats itself, I will definitely cheer for Eastern throughout the rest of the playoffs (until they potentially meet Coastal).

Montana will host San Diego on Saturday (thanks to the @NCAA_FCS twitter account).

Montana will host San Diego on Saturday (thanks to the @NCAA_FCS twitter account).

One team I will not cheer for is Montana State. After the pathetic display of football that the team presented yesterday, I was really hoping the selection committee would have left them out in the cold where they belong. But alas, they will host South Dakota State this upcoming Saturday. I really hope the Jack Rabbits demolish them. Coastal could potentially meet the Bobcats in the semis but I don’t think that will happen solely because of the ineptness of MSU.

Of course what I would love to see is a national championship between the Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers and the University of Montana Grizzlies. How much fun would that be for me? Although I have obvious ties with both schools and would love all the buildup to the game, I would definitely be rooting 100% for the Chants. If I don’t get my first national championship game pick, I would like to see another Big South vs. Big Sky matchup with Coastal and Eastern Washington battling it out for all the marbles. To watch Alex Ross and Vernon Adams (the best player in the FCS) go head-to-head would be a real treat.

The playoffs are here and I am stoked! I look forward to the next several weeks and am anxiously hoping for deep postseason runs by both the Chants and Griz. Don’t Blink.