(Sports Network) - Respect ... yeah, finally.
Coastal Carolina football took on a new role Thursday after being named the
favorite in the Big South Conference preseason poll. The Chanticleers have
continually lived in someone else's shadow despite winning conference
championships and reaching the FCS playoffs.
Coastal edged Liberty in the six-team poll and both placed a conference-high
10 players on the Big South preseason team, announced in Charlotte.
Coastal swept the Big South's preseason player of the year awards, senior wide
receiver Matt Hazel on offense and junior linebacker Quinn Backus on defense.
Last season, Hazel tied the school's single-season record with 61 receptions
and Backus set the single-season mark with 139 receptions.
Second-year Chanticleers coach Joe Moglia called all the news flattering, but,
he added, "Nobody's going to give us a game because somebody picked us in the
The Clanticleers, though, should win their share of them in a 12-game regular
season that kicks off on Aug. 31 at MEAC power South Carolina State and
concludes on Nov. 23 at the University of South Carolina.
Liberty and Stony Brook have stolen plenty of attention from Coastal, perhaps
some of it unwarranted. Stony Brook, which has departed for CAA Football, won
at least a share of the last four titles and gained attention with playoff
wins in each of the past two seasons. Liberty, which wants to leave the FCS
for the FBS level, has pocketed at least a share of five of the last six
But there has been Coastal Carolina, successfully going about its business in
Conway, S.C., while everybody on the outside has expected Liberty and Stony
Brook to pull away from the Chanticleers. Former coach David Bennett built the
program for nine seasons from the ground up and Moglia hopes to take it to the
next level, and he's off to a great start.
The Chanticleers were the first Big South team to reach the playoffs, with an
at-large selection in 2006 and then with the conference's first automatic bid
in 2010. And just like they did in 2010, the Chanticleers were part of a
three-win tie with Liberty and Stony Brook for the conference title last
season. Not only did they qualify for the playoffs with another automatic bid,
they won a game over Bethune-Cookman in an 8-5 season.
"The expectations," Moglia said, "whether they be high or low, always come
from the outside. And if you're going to deliver results, that's going to
happen from the inside. And I think our guys know that."
The Big South has been undergoing change and possible expansion was among the
topics being discussed at media day.
This is VMI's final season in the conference before it returns to the Southern
Conference. Monmouth, formerly in the Northeast Conference, will replace the
Keydets next year.
"We all recognize it's important for us to add a team or two or three that
will compete in the league in football," Moglia said.
BIG SOUTH FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL
Voted on by Head Coaches and Media Panel
1. Coastal Carolina (9 first-place votes), 84 points
2. Liberty (6), 80
3. Gardner Webb, 58
4. Charleston Southern, 39
5. (tie) VMI, 27
5. (tie) Presbyterian, 27
PRESEASON ALL-BIG SOUTH TEAM
Offensive Player of the Year - Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
Defensive Player of the Year - Quinn Backus, LB, Coastal Carolina
QB- Josh Woodrum, Liberty, R-Soph.
RB- Teddy Allen, Charleston Southern, Sr.
RB- Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina, Sr.
WR- Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina, Sr.
WR- Kenny Cook, Gardner-Webb, R-Jr.
WR- Niccolo Mastromatteo, Coastal Carolina, Sr.
TE- Seth Cranfill, Gardner-Webb, R-Jr.
OL- Chad Hamilton, Coastal Carolina, R-Jr.
OL- Jamey Cheatwood, Coastal Carolina, R-Sr.
OL- Hunter Steward, Liberty, R-Sr.
OL- Will Lucas, VMI, Sr.
OL- Drew Herring, Coastal Carolina, R-Sr.
DL- Preston Pemasa, Gardner-Webb, Sr.
DL- Matt Goods, Gardner-Webb, R-Sr.
DL- Cory Freeman, Liberty, R-Sr.
DL- Francis Bah, Liberty, R-Sr.
LB- Quinn Backus, Coastal Carolina, Jr.
LB- Tanner Burch, Gardner-Webb, Jr.
LB- Nick Sigmon, Liberty, R-Jr.
LB- Mike McClure, Coastal Carolina, Sr.
DB- Walt Aikens, Liberty, R-Sr.
DB- Elijah Lee, Charleston Southern, Sr.
DB- Kevin Fogg, Liberty, R-Sr.
DB- Johnnie Houston, Coastal Carolina, R-Sr.
PK- John Lunsford, Liberty, Soph.
P- Grant Bowden, Liberty, Sr.
LS- Hudson Smith, Gardner-Webb, R-Sr., and Richard Wright, Liberty, R-Sr.
KR- J.J. Hubbard, Gardner-Webb, Jr.
PR- Niccolo Mastromatteo, Coastal Carolina, Sr.
The Sports Network