Will Charleston Southern, The Citadel, Clemson and/or South Carolina, each already 1-0, go unbeaten this season?
Will S.C. State win today’s opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Orlando?
Should the College of Charleston get a football team?
That last question has a much more obvious answer than the first two: No.
Still, there’s a recurring push from some College of Charleston alumni and students for the school to start a football program. As reported in last Sunday’s sports section by Andrew Miller, C of C athletic director Joe Hull said he brought up the football idea to both current school President Glenn McConnell, and before that to George Benson when he was still the president. Though neither leader said “yes,” neither said “no,” according to Mr. Hull.
So where would the Cougars play football? And how would the school fund a football program?
Sharing Johnson Hagood Stadium might work for a while if The Citadel were gracious enough to share that space. Over the long term, though, a C of C football team would need its own stadium.
Another challenge would be scheduling an annual “money game” (example: CSU at Alabama on Nov. 21) to help cover costs. That’s an ever-tougher task as big-time programs grow more wary of diluting their schedule-strength ratings.
Yes, Limestone, UNC-Charlotte, Kennesaw State and Mercer are among the schools that have started up football teams over the last few years.
And Coastal Carolina, now in the Big South with CSU, announced Tuesday that it will rise from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision level by joining the Sun Belt Conference next year — though not with full FBS status until 2018.
Coastal Carolina athletic committee chairman Gene Spivey explained: “The move into FBS, which is the absolute highest level of collegiate competition, will increase the university’s visibility and brand recognition.”
Maybe. But the College of Charleston already has a special 245-year-old brand of its own. Does it really need to increase its visibility by joining the high-priced football game?
Yes, the C of C has done well in assorted sports, including basketball, baseball, soccer, sailing, tennis and volleyball. But then-President Benson and the school’s board dubiously chose to leave the Southern Conference, with nearby rivals, in 2013 for the Colonial Athletic Association, necessitating road trips to such distant schools as Drexel (in Philadelphia), Hofstra (Hempstead, N.Y.) and Northeastern (Boston).
Meanwhile, beyond the ill-advised notion of a C of C football program lies this troubling trend: Many universities — including USC and Clemson — now pay coaches multi-million-dollar salaries and engage in an expensive arms race of sorts over athletic facilities.
Sure, booster clubs and TV deals often pay that soaring tab.
However, with many schools cutting academic programs and steeply raising tuitions in recent years, the financially demanding fixation on football paints a picture of skewed priorities.
The folks running institutions of higher learning should have higher goals than winning football games.
And C of C officials should not fall for the trick-play pitch to become a football school.