In November 1999, in a packed Wheelwright Auditorium, the announcement was made that Coastal Carolina University would be getting a football program.
On September 6, 2003, nearly four years after the announcement, Coastal Carolina defeated Newberry College 21-14 on the final play of the game to win their first ever football game in program history.
Coastal Carolina athletic director Matt Hogue, who was a radio announcer at the time, recalled that historic day in Coastal Carolina history.
“I think the comment that I made on the broadcast on that touchdown call was something to the effect of that the dream has come true,” said Hogue. “Lane Harris, my companion, called the moment ‘storybook’. It could not have been scripted any better than what occurred.”
Quinton Teal, a member of the first ever Coastal Carolina football team, recalled what made him choose Coastal Carolina even though several people told him to go elsewhere.
“I didn’t know anything about Coastal getting a football team until the day they arrived at my high school,” said Teal. “Once Coach David Bennett and Curtis Walker showed me what was happening at Coastal, I was all in from that moment. It felt like home. I had never been on campus or really understood what it meant to start a football team from nothing. My high school coach tried to talk me out but there was no changing my mind. I was a Chant from that moment.”
In that first season, Coastal Carolina went 6-5 and shattered a lot of expectations the nation had about the program and continued to shock the nation in the years following that first season.
The team went 28-6 from 2004 to 2006, winning three consecutive Big South Championships and making their first ever FCS Playoff Appearance in 2006, falling to eventual national champion Appalachian State.
Hogue dug deeper in his memory bank, recalling some of his best moments in watching the program grow to what it is now.
“There are certain moments in this program’s history that you just don’t forget about,” said Hogue. “I remember when we went up to Happy Valley to play Penn State in Beaver Stadium in front of nearly 107,000 people. Our first ever playoff win at Bethune-Cookman in 2012 and our 100th win as a program in 2015. Those are some fine moments to look back on admire because they led up to this point where we are at today.”
Hogue said there are some major similarities in preparing for the first season of Coastal football and preparing for the first game of the 2018 season.
“We had a construction project much like the one we are experiencing now that most likely will go down to the wire,” said Hogue. “We had a lot of things to get settled and taken care of and we pretty much went down to the last days and hours. I think this summer and that summer, the more I think about it, is more similar in nature.”
While Phase One was completed before the first home game on Saturday, bringing the stadium capacity to 15,000, there is still some work to do. A complete upper deck built on the Highway 544 side of Brooks Stadium is expected to be completed before Coastal Carolina kicks off their 2018 season against UAB on Sept. 8.
Eyes will be on the Coastal Carolina football team this season to see how they can adjust and react to the increased level of play and pressure.
Marcus Outlow, a redshirt junior running back who transferred from Boston College at the beginning of 2016, is ready for the challenge.
“First off, I am so excited that I finally get to play,” said Outlow. “It was a long year so all those emotions are going to be running through my mind as an individual. For our school and our community, I think it is going to be great. There will be so much excitement and a lot of people are going to be anxious to see what we can do. I think it is a great overall thing for our school, for our staff and for us as players.”
Much like how the dream came true in 2003, the dream of becoming an FBS program is becoming a reality.