Citadel fans campaign to move Corps of Cadets


by Jeff Hartsell

With new coach Mike Houston now installed at The Citadel, Bulldog fans are feeling re-energized about their football program.And some of them are seizing the opportunity to try to change the game-day atmosphere at Johnson Hagood Stadium.

Some loyal supporters have begun an email campaign attempting to persuade Citadel officials to bring the Corps of Cadets back to the “home side” of the 21,000-seat stadium. Since the renovated JHS opened in 2008, the cadets have been seated on the “visitors side” behind the opponents’ bench, along with The Citadel band. This was to make room for season ticket holders and permanent seat licenses on the west side.

The feeling among these supporters as that the Corps of Cadets is isolated from the team and from the home side fans on the visitors’ side, where they often have to stare into the sun during day games. They think bringing the Corps to the home (west) side would energize the stadium atmosphere and foster a better connection between the team and the cadets.

Southern Conference rules would seem to support moving the Corps to the home side. The league’s administrative regulations state, in part, “Bands will not be seated in the arena/stadium quadrant which includes the visiting team bench and will be instructed that they may not play while the game is in progress.”

Another section of the administrative regulations reads, “Areas behind the visiting team bench shall be reserved for visiting fans. A buffer section of seats or empty space must be provided behind visiting team benches and dugouts, as appropriate for the venue. In no case may the home team’s fans, student, or band sections be located immediately behind the visiting team bench.”

Those rules are aimed mainly at basketball, said SoCon senior associate commissioner Geoff Cabe. He said the policy the league follows for football is as follows: “A buffer section of visiting team seats or empty space must be provided in the area immediately behind the visiting team bench as it may be appropriate for each particular venue. The host institution must provide the visiting institution with 300 complimentary tickets as part of the buffer zone for each Southern Conference game.”
That policy is rather vague, and Cabe said the topic of where student sections and bands should be seated at SoCon events is being discussed with the goal of writing more specific regulations.
But he also said moving the Corps of Cadets from behind the visiting team bench would be in the “spirit” of SoCon rules. “Moving all student and official groups from the visiting side to the home side would absolutely meet the spirit of the rules,” Cabe said.

My own opinion is that the game-day atmosphere at JHS would be well-served by moving the Corps to the home side. Former coach Kevin Higgins used to say he liked the Corps behind the visiting team bench, where they could harass the opposition. But I could never tell if he really believed that or was just toeing the company line.

Whatever is going on in the Corps of Cadets all the way across the field on game day, it is mostly lost on the Bulldogs’ team and on the majority of Citadel fans. And the home side could definitely use an injection of youthful energy and noise.Seating cadets on the home side would require some logistical work. And it might leave the visitors’ side looking rather empty for most games — but not any emptier than the visiting side at any other SoCon school.

It’s a move worth trying, and a growing number of Citadel fans agree.


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