Gene Sapakoff is a columnist and College Sports Editor at The Post and Courier.

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Carolina Panthers All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly is the featured speaker for The Charleys sports awards program Thursday night at the Charleston Music Hall. File/AP

The Oscars, the Emmys, the ESPYs, the Grammys.

The Charleys.

So similar, really.

All have big names. Red carpets. Yummy food.

Some of these events (the ones on the other coast) are more contrived than others. Some feature more pregame limos. But have you tried parking one of those things on John Street?

And, sure, I enjoy chit-chatting and sharing phone chargers backstage with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper as much as the next person. But The Charleys, The Post and Courier’s annual sports awards event, is so much more than name-dropping just for the sake of saying we had former Clemson star quarterback Deshaun Watson last year and will have Carolina Panthers All-World linebacker Luke Kuechly as our featured speaker on Thursday night at the Charleston Music Hall.

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Former Clemson star and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson — seated between Post and Courier sports columnist Gene Sapakoff (left) and longtime sportscaster Warren Peper — took questions at The CHARLEYS, celebrating achievements in sports, at The Gaillard Center sponsored by The Post and Courier Friday night, May 11, 2018. Wade Spees/Staff

It’s a great way to join in for a comprehensive salute to recent feats, legendary careers and silly achievements. The spotlight ranges from college to pro to high school sports, including team and individual honors (plus domesticated animals).

And one of these days, as sure as each “Groundhog Day” means an Andie MacDowell smile, Bill Murray will show up to present the Bill Murray Good Humor Award.

Ten things to like about The Charleys II:

Star power

Watson or Kuechly?

Which former ACC star will wind up as the better NFL player?

Watson, the Houston Texans quarterback, is off to a terrific start two years after leading Clemson to a national championship.

But Kuechly, who just turned 28 on Saturday, already has made six Pro Bowls and played in a Super Bowl since leaving Boston College.

Can’t wait for that Panthers-Texans game on Sept. 29.


Hard to beat a lineup that includes Clemson, South Carolina, The Citadel, the College of Charleston, Charleston Southern, S.C. State, Major League Baseball, the NFL, tennis, golf, track and field, surfing and rugby. At least.


John McKissick, the Summerville Green Wave icon who holds the world record for most victories by a high school football coach, was our Lifetime Achievement Award winner at the inaugural Charleys.

On Thursday night, the honoree is John Kresse, who took the College of Charleston basketball program from NAIA status to four NCAA Tournament appearances.


What a great Charleys scene last year when Watson, 22 and dressed in a slick Summerville green-colored suit, was introduced to McKissick, 91.

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Charlie T. RiverDog mascot sported a baseball bow tie at The CHARLEYS, celebrating achievements in sports, at The Gaillard Center sponsored by The Post and Courier Friday night, May 11, 2018. Wade Spees/Staff


Who doesn’t like observing an engaging conversation between Charlie The RiverDog and other prominent local team mascots? Even if they are not actually talking.

Master MC

They don’t get any better than Warren Peper, famed former Charleston TV anchor and famed current Post and Courier columnist. I’m just sayin.


You never know who might show up.

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On stage, on video, on the red carpet.


Precedent oozes from your Charleys program.

Watson’s Q&A responses last year were insightful at times, hilarious at others. Thanks to Dabo Swinney for the texted question: “Ask Deshaun what my reaction was when he came into my office and told me he wanted to play against South Carolina with a torn ACL.”

The McKissick family was so touched by his Lifetime Achievement Award. But the highlight came when Joan McKissick, the coach’s wife of 66 years, joined him on stage and was surprised to receive the Best Coach’s Wife Award.

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Joan McKissick joined her husband of 65 years, legendary Summerville High School coach John McKissick, onstage at The Gaillard Center for The CHARLEYS awards with master of ceremonies Warren Peper on Friday night, May 11, 2018. Their grandson Joe Call is at left. Wade Spees/Staff


Meet old friends.

Meet new friends.

Meet Mike Mooneyham.

The Post and Courier pro wrestling columnist and best-selling author (“Sex, Lies, and Headlocks” a genre classic with “The Final Bell” creeping up the charts) was on hand last year. How cool at the 2018 Charleys to see Mooneyham get reacquainted with one of the former youth league baseball players he coached, Clemson offensive co-coordinator Tony Elliott.


The Charleston Music Hall, originally built in a Gothic Revival style, opened in 1850 as a South Carolina Railroad passenger station. Hard to believe the building sat vacant for 60 years until 1995 when the Bennett-Hofford Company transformed the place into an entertainment showplace ideal for The Charleys.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.

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