Charleston Southern Buccaneers football
|Charleston Southern Buccaneers|
|Athletic director||Hank Small|
|Head coach||Jamey Chadwell|
|Home stadium||Buccaneer Field|
|Location||North Charleston, SC|
|League||NCAA Division I (FCS)|
|Conference||Big South Conference|
|All-time record||77–151–0 (.338)|
|Postseason bowl record||0–0–0 (–)|
|Claimed national titles||0|
Navy and Vegas Gold
|Mascot||Bucky the Buccaneer|
|Rivals||Coastal Carolina Chanticleers|
- For information on all Charleston Southern University sports, see Charleston Southern Buccaneers
The Charleston Southern Buccaneers football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Charleston Southern University located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and are members of the Big South Conference. Charleston Southern's first football team was fielded in 1991. The team plays its home games at the 4,000 seat Buccaneer Field in North Charleston, South Carolina and are led by head coach Jamey Chadwell.
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The Charleston Southern football team began as a club football team in 1989 before moving to NCAA Division 3 status in 1991, which is a non-scholarship division. After NCAA rule changes required all sports to be in the same division, the Buccaneers moved from Division 3 to Division 1 in 1993, literally overnight, as the other campus programs were Division 1. This caused some challenges for the new program, as they faced off with more established and better funded programs. In 1996, the Bucs went 1-10 with a lone win vs West Virginia State. Wins were scarce, and in 1997, Head Coach David Dowd hired defensive coordinator Todd Knight from Gardner-Webb University. The two coaches oversaw a slow improvement that began with a large recruiting class in 1997, and move to 34 scholarships being offered. That team would struggle to a 1-9 record, with a lone win vs Tusculum College. The opening game was a 30-7 loss to top 10 ranked East Tennessee State, followed by a heart-breaking loss at then No. 22 ranked South Carolina State. In that game, the Buccaneers led 12-6 with less than 1:30 to play, with SC State driving inside the 40 yard line. On a 4th and short, CSU hit the SC State QB to cause a fumble which the Bucs recovered and began to run with, only to then fumble the ball back, and SC State would score the game winning TD on the ensuing drive. The 1997 team struggled to recover from that loss. A tragic loss was part of that season, as freshman running back Kevin Keyes was murdered near his hometown of Goose Creek, SC.
1998 3-8 In 1998, the Buccaneers featured QB Brooks Combs and a fast, hard hitting defense that would garner the nickname "Blue Collar Defense" for their work ethic and physical style of play. Free safety Antonio Simmons would be named honorable mention All American. While posting only a 3-8 record, the Bucs were competitive with several teams in loss, such as an overtime loss to Liberty University, and last minute losses to Morehead State and Newberry, as well as a hard fought home loss to SC State 17-7, which at the time set the school attendance record for a home game at approximately 6,500. The 1998 season was also marked by the tragic death of defensive lineman Scott Wehnes, who collapsed on the field during practice and would not recover.
1999 4-6 The 1999 Buccaneers had high hopes entering the season, as they featured a capable defense with the "Blue Collar Defense" as well as an offense that was showing great potential with QB Brooks Combs, WR Ande Goldsmith, and RB's Larry Stroud and Booker Peake. The Bucs opened the season at South Carolina State once again, and found themselves down 20-14 with less than 1:00 to play, and having the ball 1st and goal at the 3 yard line. However, a penalty and sack would back the Bucs up, and they would once again fall in a heartbreaking loss near the end of the game. Hurricane Floyd would threaten the SC coast, causing a cancellation of the home game vs West Virginia State, and the Bucs would go on to lose a close game to Newberry College 28-25, but, would post road wins vs Austin Peay University and Jacksonville University. The 1999 season also saw the opening of the Whitfield Stadium Center, in which the Bucs would face the 4-0 Lenoir-Rhyne Bears, who were at the time ranked in NCAA Division 2. The Bucs would win an overtime game vs the Bears that ignited a wild celebration by the capacity crowd of 4,000. The Bucs would also post a homecoming win vs Tusculum College in front of another capacity crowd, and saw the game ball parachuted in by military sky divers. The Bucs could not reschedule the West Virginia State game, and finished the season a disappointing 4-6, with 2 last minute losses to SC State and Newberry, and a missed game vs West Virginia State that the Bucs would have likely been favored. This was also the first season the Bucs featured Vegas Gold as a primary color, wearing gold helmets and navy jerseys, strongly resembling the uniforms worn by the University of Notre Dame.
2000 5-6 The 2000 CSU football team once again came into the season with hopes of turning the corner. The recruiting class of 1997 were now seniors, and the Bucs have a strong group of veteran players. Among them were QB Jake Sills, who was a starter at the University of Oklahoma before transferring to CSU, and DB Mike Brown, who would go on to star for the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul and be named the AFL Ironman of the Year at one point. The "Blue Collar Defense" continued to feature safety Antonio Simmons, and a deep defensive line and linebacker group. The offense features a senior laden group of offensive linemen, future All Big South WR Brad Moultrie, and a stable of talented running backs. The team got off to a solid 4-2 start, posting a 50-0 opening win over Guilford College, a 30-0 win over West Virginia State, and wins over Austin Peay University and Jacksonville University. The Bucs would lose 24-10 vs Wofford at home, and a road game at Presbyterian 28-13. QB Jake Sills would then fall to injury, where back-up QB Travis Cunningham took over starting duties. This transition period saw a loss at VMI and a home loss to Elon, before the Buccaneers would finish the season with 3 straight road games. The first of those games was possibly the most heart breaking loss the team would have, as it fell to 1-AA power Samford on the road in overtime. The Bucs led the game 10-3, and in the 4th quarter, were lining up for a field goal from the 15 yard line with less than 6:00 to play. With the defense controlling the Samford offense the entire game, a 13-3 lead would have seemed to seal the win. However, Samford would block the attempt and run it into the red zone, where Samford would then tie the game to force overtime and win 17-10. The Buccaneers responded with, at the time, the single best game in school history, as they travelled to Liberty University and won 25-0 in a game that saw the entire team play its best game of the year in all phases. This set up a storybook ending to the season, as the 1997 recruiting clas that opened its first-ever college game at East Tennessee State would return to that same field for their final collegiate game, with a 5-5 record and an attempt to become the first winning team in CSU history. Sadly, the team would not accomplish that goal. While fighting hard and being down only 14-7 at halftime, the ETSU team opened the game up and won by a large margin 55-7 to end the careers of the seniors on the 2000 team. However, the team did make a small step, as they set the mark for most wins at 5. The CSU "Blue Collar Defense" would finish the season giving up an average of 250 yards per game, which remains the best single season for defensive yards allowed by any CSU team.
2001 5-6 The 2001 Buccaneers saw the return of QB Jake Sills, who had an outstanding year along with WR Brad Moultrie. The team once again got off to a solid start, posting wins over North Greenville, Jacksonville, Austin Peay and Benedict College, while still facing tough teams out of the Southern Conference, such as home losses to Samford and East Tennessee State. Much like the 2000 squad, the 2001 team showed that the CSU program was much improved, was learning to win, and was becoming more competitive with traditional 1-AA programs. The team would post another 5-6 record that, while modest, gave the Buccaneers 10 wins over 2 seasons, and became the high-water mark for the young program. Upcoming QB Darren Swiggett was showing signs that he could be the future of the Bucs, and recruiting had improved thanks to the image of the program improving somewhat with the two 5-6 seasons. Freshman running back Travis Mays showed the ability to be a true game changer for the Bucs, as did defensive players such as DE Shaun Phillips, LB Bowe Butler, DT John Amaro and DB Mike Washington. Coach David Dowd seemed to have the Buccaneers on the verge of a breakthrough in 2002.
2002 4-6 The 2002 Buccaneers had the highest hopes of any team CSU had prior to that season. QB Darren Swiggett was a potential all conference selection, and the Big South Conference had officially formed as a football conference. The Bucs had many returning starters, and returned key players at every position. The Bucs opened by hosting Southern Conference member VMI. The Bucs jumped to a lead in the 2nd half, before a lightning storm delayed the game, after which the Bucs would lose in overtime. The Bucs would find a way to still start off 4-2, posting wins over North Greenville, West Virginia State, Savannah State and West Liberty State. The Bucs would then face Jacksonville University on homecoming in what would become a negative turning point. QB Darren Swiggett would be lost for the season due to a shoulder injury and the Bucs would lose the game. They would never recover from that loss and injury, finishing the season with a 4-7 record, including losses to the University of South Florida, and a first ever meeting with The Citadel to finish the season. Following that season, new athletic director Hank Small would make the difficult decision to make a coaching change, replacing head coach David Dowd with then-offensive coordinator at Harvard University, Jay Mills. David Dowd would leave as a beloved coach by his players, and quickly found a position with Sumter High School's football program. Defensive coordinator Todd Knight was also a coach that was beloved by his players, many of whom requested the school name him as the new head coach. However, he would accept a job at Newberry College, where he became head coach and won a SAC championship and turned the Newberry program into a Division 2 playoff contender.
Jay Mills Era 2003-2012
Jay Mills came to Charleston Southern from Harvard University, and had spent time coaching at several other places, including Boise State, Notre Dame and Minnesota-Morris. His system shifted from CSU's traditional power based, pro style offense to a spread offense. Several starters were dismissed from the team for various situations, and most of the coaching staff was changed. His first season was seen by many as a disaster, as the Bucs stumbled to a 1-11 record, with the lone win being over West Virginia State. The season included blowout losses to The Citadel, Gardner Webb, VMI, James Madison and Coastal Carolina. However, Coach Mills used the 2003 season to break-in a freshman quarterback named Colin Drafts. While this was to be an extremely difficult season of transition, it would provide the groundwork for a remarkable turnaround, and the emergence of one of the most prolific offensive players in CSU and Big South Conference history. In 2004, CSU saw a game cancelled vs The Citadel due to a looming hurricane, and the Bucs were able to post a 5-5 record, the first non-losing season in CSU history. Colin Drafts began to emerge as a star quarterback, as did running back Travis Mays and linebacker Zach Mitchell. Wide receiver Eddie Gadson would also emerge from walk-on to All Big South Conference in one season. The 12 months following the end of the 2004 season would be one that no fan or team member would have predicted.
The 2005 season had not yet begun, but tragedy had struck. WR Eddie Gadson was killed in his hometown in a car accident, rattling the CSU program. The season was dedicated to Eddie Gadson, who wore #21. "ED21" decals were placed on nearly everything the Bucs used, including their home field. QB Colin Drafts was an All Big South QB. Other key players included WR Maurice Price, who would be signed by the Kansas City Chiefs, Purdue transfer Drew Rucks, DE Adam Degraffenried, LB Zach Mitchell, All Big South LB Jada Ross, and kicker Nick Ellis, a high school teammate of Eddie Gadson.
The team would begin with a tough loss at The Citadel, an emotional game in which they led 14-7 in the second half before falling 28-14. They would follow with several losses as the team attempted to regroup and find itself. Wins would come over Edward Waters University, Savannah State, Jacksonville University and North Greenville, with losses to Presbyterian, VMI and Howard University. What would finish the season was an improbable and magical 15 day stretch. The Bucs would travel to Big South power Gardner Webb University, where the team would erupt for a 30-point victory over the Bulldogs, pulling the team's record to 5-4 with home games against Liberty and Coastal Carolina remaining. They program had yet to post a winning season, and only 2 other teams in CSU's past had ever had the opportunity to play for a 6th win (2000, 2001). The 2005 Buccaneers would have that chance, hosting Liberty the next week. In that game, CSU would find itself on the 2 yard line, down 30-24, with less than 1:00 to play. The team would attempt several passes to WR Maurice Price, until he would eventually out-jump a Liberty defender on 4th down to secure a TD, and secure the 6th win, and first ever winning season for the CSU football program. The win gave the Buccaneers a 6-4 record, and a final game against Coastal Carolina, who at the time was ranked in the national top 20, and with a 9-1 record were expected to be a playoff contender.
2005 Charleston Southern vs Coastal Carolina In November 2005, Charleston Southern hosted nationally ranked Coastal Carolina, in what was an unofficial conference championship game, as Coastal Carolina had 0 conference losses, and CSU had only 1, thus making the winner of this game the champion due to the possible head-to-head tie breaker should CSU win. CCU led for most of the game, and in the 4th, when punting and up 17-10, current NFL RB Mike Tolbert took a fake punt 60 yards for a TD to extend the score to 24-10 with less than 5:00 to play, seemingly sealing the win. However, CSU struck quickly with QB Colin Drafts and WR Drew Rucks, and scored to make the game 24-17. CCU recovered an onside kick, and with 2:00 left to play, began to take a knee to run out the clock. On 4th and 10 from the 50, with 10 seconds left, Coastal Carolina had a choice of either kicking to CSU's All Conference kick returner, or, trying to run the clock out. They elected to snap the ball to current NFL player Jerome Simpson with a plan to run out the back of the end zone, take a safety, and in the process run out the clock. The CSU punt block team was able to track Simpson down inside the 5, while he tried to run the last seconds out, and forced him out of bounds at the 3 yard line with 2 seconds left, time for one play. On that play, Colin Drafts found WR Marcus Murray for a TD to tie the game and force overtime. In 2OT, Charleston Southern would hold on a 4th down to win the game 34-27, as fans and alumni rushed the field and tore down the campus-side goal post, throwing it into the infamous duck pond by the practice field. The father of the fallen WR Eddie Gadson was given a game ball. It was around then that kicker Nick Ellis, who kicked a critical 40 yard field goal in overtime, noticed something about the ending of the game. The final play had snapped from the 21 yard line, leaving the "ball on" indicator on the scoreboard with the number 21 on it. The same number as Eddie Gadson's jersey #21 which the team dedicated the season to. It was the first championship of any kind in CSU football history, and set the record for wins in a season at 7-4. At the time, the Big South was not an auto-bid conference, and CSU was not selected for the Division 1-AA playoffs, ending a magical season on that final play vs Coastal Carolina.
Notable former players
Notable alumni include: Charles James, Collin Drafts. Jake Killeen, Maurice Price, Mike Brown
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2005: 7-4 Big South Champions
2005 - Big South Conference Co-Champions (Coastal Carolina)
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
These two schools first met on the football field in 2003 and it has been a rivalry since Charleston Southern defeated Coastal Carolina 34-27 in 2005 to win a share of the Big South Championship that Coastal had already clinched. CSU got the first shutout of the series with their 24-0 win in 2008.
Coastal Carolina leads the series 8-4.
- 2014 - CSU @ Coastal - L, 43-22
- 2013 - Coastal @ CSU - W, 31-26
- 2012 - CSU @ Coastal - L, 41-20
- 2011 - Coastal @ CSU - L, 45-38
- 2010 - CSU @ Coastal - L, 70-3
- 2009 - Coastal @ CSU - W, 30-23
- 2008 - CSU @ Coastal - W, 24-0
- 2007 - Coastal @ CSU - L, 41-2
- 2006 - CSU @ Coastal - L, 31-17
- 2005 - Coastal @ CSU - W, 34-27 (2 OT)
- 2004 - CSU @ Coastal - L, 56-28
- 2003 - Coastal @ CSU - L, 48-14 (First Meeting)
Charleston Southern vs FBS Schools