Citadel coach: Charleston Southern earned right to host playoff game

Citadel coach Mike Houston will take his team to Charleston Southern on Saturday for the second round of the FCS playoffs, the Bulldogs’ fourth straight road game. (Paul Zoeller/P&CStaff)

Citadel coach Mike Houston will take his team to Charleston Southern on Saturday for the second round of the FCS playoffs, the Bulldogs’ fourth straight road game. (Paul Zoeller/P&CStaff)

By: Jeff Hartsell
Dec 1 2015

Some Citadel fans may have a problem with where Saturday’s FCS playoff game against Charleston Southern will be played, but Bulldogs coach Mike Houston does not. And neither does the head of the FCS playoff committee.

Charleston Southern, as the No. 8 national seed in the 24-team playoffs, will host Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at 4,000-seat Buccaneer Field, which will be able to seat about 6,000 with temporary seats brought in, CSU officials say.

Through e-mails to The Post and Courier and in social media posts, Citadel fans have wondered why the game can’t be moved to the Bulldogs’ 21,000-seat Johnson Hagood Stadium, or to a larger high school stadium.

Houston said Tuesday he understands why CSU would not give up a home-field advantage that its players earned during a 9-2 season that included a 33-20 win over The Citadel at Johnson Hagood. “They earned the right to host this ball game with their performance on the field this season,” said Houston, whose own team is 9-3 after last week’s 41-38 win at Coastal Carolina. “(CSU) did not lose an FCS game, they won their league and they earned the right to host this game. That’s a credit to them.”

Citadel athletic director Jim Senter said he understands the frustration of some fans. “I know we have a lot of fans who would like to go to the game and sit in a seat, and they feel like they cannot do that,” he said. “I understand that. But Charleston Southern earned the right to host with their play this season. “We would like to some day have a home game on our home field and with, hopefully, a home-field advantage. If the shoe were on the other foot, we’d do the exact same thing.”

CSU allotted 885 tickets to The Citadel for sale to Bulldog fans, which amounts to about 22 percent of the stadium, Senter said. Coastal Carolina gave The Citadel 1,500 tickets in 9,214-seat Brooks Stadium, about 16 percent. “Charleston Southern has been great,” Senter said. “We’ like to have more seats, but they had the luxury of selling tickets all last week before they knew who they would play. That’s the right thing to do and I’d do the same thing.”

Attendance at the game at Johnson Hagood Stadium on Sept. 26 was 11,998. Last year’s Citadel-Charleston Southern game at Buccaneer Field drew 7,954 fans, the largest home crowd in CSU history.

Tennessee Tech athletic director Mark Wilson, head of the FCS playoff committee, said there are no minimum requirements for stadium size for a school to host a playoff game. Typically, playoff crowds are smaller than for regular-season games. The eight national seeds for the playoffs are guaranteed to host second-round games if they meet the minimum financial guarantee to the NCAA, which is $40,000 for the second round. “We do look at the quality of the stadium and the capacity,” Wilson said. “But if a seeded team has a venue capable of hosting regular-season games without issues and they meet the minimum guarantee, then they are the host. “We think it’s going to be a great atmosphere for an FCS playoff game.”

Citadel fans who went on-line to buy tickets when they went on sale at 10 a.m. Monday were greeted with the news that only “standing-room only” tickets remained. Fans can bring “beach-type chairs” to sit along the fence line or on the berm at Buccaneer Field, CSU officials said.
“A stadium would have to have significant issues to say, ‘We’re not having a home game at your place,’” Wilson said. “That’s not the case here.” And as Senter points out, most if not all the money goes to the NCAA. “It’s not like anyone is making a bunch of money,” he said. “It goes to the NCAA.”


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