Jamey Chadwell is doing everything he can to turn Charleston Southern vs. The Citadel into a football rivalry.
Last year, after CSU won its second straight game over The Citadel, the Buccaneers’ coach emerged from the victors’ locker room wearing a T-shirt that read, “Charleston, it’s Southern’s City.”
This week, as the Bucs and Bulldogs prepare to meet for the ninth time, Chadwell is proposing a sort of “Mayors’ Cup” trophy that would go to the winner of the game between schools that sit about 15 miles apart.
“I’d like to see it be a yearly rivalry, get the mayors of Charleston and North Charleston involved and make it a trophy game,” Chadwell said Tuesday. “I think it’s good for our city, for our state and for FCS football.”
But it’s unclear when the teams will meet again after Saturday’s 6 p.m. game at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Charleston Southern and The Citadel are not slated to play next season, and no future games have been scheduled as of now, although the two sides are apparently talking.
“I would think it makes sense, as close as the two institutions are,” said Citadel coach Mike Houston, “to work something out in the future to continue playing each other. But that will be up to the administrators.”
The teams have played eight times in the 13 years since the series began in 2002, including the last three years in a row. The Citadel holds a 5-3 lead, but CSU has won the last two, 32-29 in 2013 and 20-18 last season, when the teams played at CSU Stadium for the first time.
Scheduling becomes a little tighter in 2016 for The Citadel, as East Tennessee State begins playing as a ninth member of Southern Conference football, bringing the Bulldogs’ league slate to eight games. That leaves three non-conference games in an 11-game schedule for 2016, and The Citadel will play North Greenville, a return game at Gardner-Webb and a guarantee game at North Carolina.
CSU, with a six-game Big South slate, has a little more wiggle room in its schedule.
“When we can play each other, it brings more notoriety to the city and to what our programs are trying to accomplish,” Chadwell said. “I hope we can continue it going down the line.”
Regardless of the future of the series, CSU’s success the last two years has added some heat to the rivalry.
“Getting wins the last couple of years, that was big for our school and our community,” Chadwell said. “And that’s what has made it into an exciting game.
“We don’t have the tradition and history and legacy that they have in their program,” Chadwell said. “But fortunately for us, we’ve been able to pull out a couple of games in the last two years and maybe make them put a little more emphasis on the game.”
Citadel fullback Isiaha Smith, who did not play in last week’s loss at Georgia Southern, returned to practice Sunday and should be available against CSU, Houston said. Smith has rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns in two games.
Smith’s “backup,” redshirt freshman Evan McField, is doing pretty well. McField ranks first in the SoCon and fourth in FCS with 355 yards, averaging 118.3 per game and 6.7 per carry.
After picking off just three passes a year ago, the Bulldogs have intercepted six of the 78 passes against them this season. That ranks The Citadel first in FCS in interception percentage (7.69 percent).