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Building a successful program not easy in college-rich Charleston, S.C.

FARGO--The method of scheduling football games for Charleston Southern University over the years includes keeping an eye on FBS powers Clemson and the University of South Carolina. It's not so much who those two are playing, but when.

Charleston Southern quarterback Kyle Copeland. Jim Killian / Charleston Southern athletics
Charleston Southern quarterback Kyle Copeland. Jim Killian / Charleston Southern athletics

FARGO-The method of scheduling football games for Charleston Southern University over the years includes keeping an eye on FBS powers Clemson and the University of South Carolina. It's not so much who those two are playing, but when.

The Buccaneers do everything they can to keep from going head-to-head with the Tigers and Gamecocks.

"We want people to go to both," said CSU athletic director Hank Small. "We've only been playing football since 1990. We're the new guy so we're building in everything we do."

Certainly, Charleston Southern is building a successful program, something that wasn't the case as recently as 2011 when the Bucs went 0-11. But Small hired Jamey Chadwell as the head coach following that season and the turnaround was on.

Chadwell didn't exactly have the wow resume. He was an assistant at CSU from 2004-08 before getting the head position at NCAA Division II North Greenville in 2009. He accelerated that program from 2-8 to 9-3 and 11-3 the next two years.

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Charleston Southern hired him despite going 3-8 at Division II Delta State (Miss.) in 2012. In just his second year, the Buccaneers reached the FCS top 25 poll for the first time since 2006 and his 28-10 record is one of the most successful three-year stretches in school history.

"There are a variety of things with him," Small said. "Obviously he does a great job of judging talent and getting speed. Xs and Os wise, he picks schemes that I think fit the talent he recruits very well. The key thing is he really utilizes the mission of the university with the family atmosphere."

It has to be one of the most gratifying three-year stretches in Small's career, which spans 46 years in athletics. His background is in football with that career peaking as the offensive coordinator at Wake Forest.

He's in his 14th year as the CSU athletic director.

"A lot of things have changed, a lot of things have grown and that certainly includes the FCS level of play," Small said. "It's been an enjoyment to watch our level."

The Bucs do it with a triple option offense that will be led this year by quarterback Kyle Copeland. They have their top three running backs returning paced by senior Darius Hammond, whose 856 yards rushing include a 5.9-yard per carry average. He's also the top threat on kickoff and punt returns.

This season represents another step up for Charleston Southern in increasing its visibility and level of competition. The Buccaneers have played the top FBS teams in the southeast and have Florida State in the third game of this season.

Basketball follows the same philosophy at CSU and golf is one of the top programs at the school. But on Saturday night, football will take center stage in the ESPN FCS Kickoff series at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

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"We talk here at the university about overachievement all the time," Small said. "We put our athletes in positions where they see things at the highest level."

In Charleston, S.C., it's a battle for people to notice that level. The Citadel military college, for instance, was established in 1842. The College of Charleston, which doesn't play football, dates back to 1770.

"They've been here a long time, we've been in town just over 50 years," Small said. "The good thing is the area is just exploding with people that don't have those old ties so the fact we're a local school means more to them than a tie with Clemson, Citadel or South Carolina."

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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