Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - An intriguing subplot is part of Saturday's Coastal Carolina-Charleston Southern showdown which could decide the Big South Conference championship.
Big South coach of the year honors could be secured by the game's winner, either Coastal Carolina's Joe Moglia or Charleston Southern's Jamey Chadwell. On a larger scale, the winning coach will pad his resume for the Eddie Robinson Award, which honors the FCS national coach of the year.
Granted, coaching awards won't enter into the thoughts of Moglia and Chadwell when they try to lead their respective team to a 10th victory this season. A win by No. 5 Coastal Carolina with a Presbyterian loss at Liberty would clinch the Big South title and the conference's automatic bid to the FCS playoffs for the visiting Chanticleers, while a Charleston Southern triumph would move the No. 18 Buccaneers into first place.
With only three Saturdays remaining in the regular season before the announcement of the playoff field on Nov. 24, leading candidates for the 27th annual Robinson Award have moved front and center in the picture.
Moglia, whose Coastal squad is one of three unbeaten teams (9-0) in the FCS, and Chadwell, who has the upstart Buccaneers at 9-1 in his first season of leading their program (the loss was to Colorado), are among the top candidates. Both could be Robinson Award candidates regardless of Saturday's result, with Moglia having returned from a long career in the business world to impart an out-of-the-box approach in his second season with the Chants and Chadwell instilling youth and positive energy into his program.
"Knowing Coastal previously and knowing the type of players that Coach (David) Bennett got in there (before Moglia), I knew they had good football players, and Coach Bennett had done a good job," Chadwell said. "What Joe has come in and done is give those guys an unbelievable purpose and brought to them just a passion that they're playing with. It's been pretty impressive. ... I can see how much they've improved from last year's video to this year, and it's night and day."
Said Moglia of Chadwell's first season: "I think whenever you have a new staff in, and you have a little bit of a different approach to how everything takes place, it takes a little while for the guys to buy into that. He was able to achieve that almost immediately. And then the fact that they've had some very real success has just reinforced that. So from early in the season, I've taken my hat to what they've been able to do to lay that foundation upon which to build."
The list of 20 Robinson Award finalists will be announced on Nov. 25, and a national panel of voters will select the winner for the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.
Often times, a coach whose team enjoys a surprising season will catch the eye of Robinson Award voters, as Towson's Rob Ambrose did in winning the award two years ago and Southeast Missouri State's Tony Samuel did in 2010. This year, that type of candidate would include Chadwell, whose Charleston Southern squad was picked fourth out of six teams in the Big South preseason poll.
But there are other coaches leading surprising campaigns. Maine's Jack Cosgrove, Princeton's Bob Surace, Youngstown State's Eric Wolford, Chattanooga's Russ Huesman and Southeastern Louisiana's Ron Roberts have their teams in first place and their squads were picked anywhere from third to eighth in their conference's preseason poll.
Fordham isn't eligible for the Patriot League title, but coach Joe Moorhead, a Robinson Award finalist last season, is becoming a favorite for the top coaching honors with the Rams standing three wins away from completing an unbeaten regular season.
Sacred Heart's Mark Nofri, whose 8-2 team already has won six more games than last season, and Jacksonville State first-year mentor Bill Clark, whose team is 7-2, also are staking claim to Robinson Award candidacy. Delaware first-year coach Dave Brock, William & Mary's Jimmye Laycock and South Carolina State's Buddy Pough are doing terrific jobs with their teams as well.
While there is always support for the coaches of teams exceeding expectations, there are years in which the Robinson Award recipient comes from a highly successful program whose mentor simply takes the play to an even higher level. That can be easier said than done, but the award recipient, Craig Bohl, did just that last season while leading North Dakota State to a second straight FCS national championship.
Bohl has done little to change his credentials this season in leading the top- ranked Bison to an 8-0 start. Moglia has done that at Coastal Carolina, the Big South's preseason favorite. In addition, Bethune-Cookman's Brian Jenkins and Eastern Illinois' Dino Babers continue to impress in leading their teams to first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Ohio Valley Conference, respectively. EIU is ranked No. 2 in the nation.
The crowded Big Sky Conference needs the final weeks of the season to separate its many candidates, which include Eastern Washington's Beau Baldwin, Montana State's Rob Ash, Northern Arizona's Jerome Souers and Southern Utah's Ed Lamb.
The same goes in the Patriot League (Lafayette's Frank Tavani?), Pioneer Football League (Marist's Jim Parady, Mercer' Bobby Lamb or San Diego's Dale Lindsey?) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (Alcorn State's Jay Hopson?).
Robinson Award voters will make their winning selection for various reasons, but there's no denying plenty of coaches across the FCS are doing their jobs exceptionally well this season.
AROUND THE NATION
Third-ranked Eastern Washington will try to secure its 500th all-time win when it hosts No. 4 Montana State in a battle of Big Sky Conference co-leaders on Saturday. The visiting team has won the last two meetings. ... Northern Arizona senior Zach Bauman is 187 rushing yards shy of 5,000 in his career. ... Top- ranked North Dakota State (8-0) returns from a bye to host Illinois State, which is 0-4 on the road after finishing unbeaten at home (5-0) for the first time since 1999. ... Other factors could come into play, but Jackson State and Southern can make it easy by winning games on Saturday to clinch berths in the SWAC Championship Game on Dec. 7 in Houston. ... With four Pioneer League teams holding just one loss in league action, and two more teams only one game behind the leaders, there's no margin for error. Preseason favorite and tri-leader San Diego (6-3, 5-1) has to come eastward for the second straight week, this time to face Morehead State. ... The winner of the Eastern Kentucky-Jacksonville State game stands a good chance of a playoff bid out of the Ohio Valley Conference. The loser, not so much. ... Maine coach Jack Cosgrove is back to the career .500 mark (119-119) as the CAA Football-leading Black Bears head to Albany to try to reach their first-ever 9-1 start. ... Incredibly, four of the six FCS players to have reached 100 tackles this season are from the MEAC: North Carolina Central's Tazmon Foster (110), Hampton's Delbert Tyler (103) and Savannah State's Justin Dixon (102) and Marquis Smith (100), a freshman. ... The No. 1 and 2 kickoff returners in the FCS will be matched against each other - well, sort of - when Southland Conference leader Southeastern visits Central Arkansas. SELU sophomore Xavier Roberson is averaging 37.8 yards on 14 returns, while UCA freshman Jatavious Wilson is averaging 35.5 yards on 13 returns. Both have scored two touchdowns on returns. ... Lamar defensive end Jesse Dickson has been exceptional this season. He leads FCS defensive linemen in tackles (65) and has 12.5 tackles for loss. ... Behind quarterback Quinn Epperly, Princeton has surpassed the Ivy League single-season record for total yards of offense with three games left to play. The first-place Tigers (6-1) have totaled 3,810 yards in seven games, surpassing Harvard's 3,566 yards in 2000. The Tigers also are averaging 45.1 points per game, well above Harvard's league-record 39.4 points per game, set last season. ... Despite Colgate's loss to Bucknell last Saturday, the Raiders, front-running Lafayette and Lehigh still control their fate in the Patriot League because the trio still have to play each other. ... VMI has three games remaining, but a home game against Gardner-Webb on Saturday will be its final one in the Big South Conference. The Keydets will return to the Southern Conference next season. ... The big game in the SoCon is Wofford-Chattanooga. The loser might have a hard time making the playoffs considering both teams' remaining schedules. ... In a terrific Northeast Conference title race, it doesn't get any better than Duquesne- Sacred Heart and Robert Morris-Central Connecticut State on Saturday. The race has been back and forth with different leaders this season. ... Old Dominion (6-3) will play two of its final three games against FBS opponents, Saturday at Idaho and Nov. 23 at North Carolina. If the transitioning Conference USA program wins either game, it would count toward the FCS' single-season record of 14 wins against FBS opponents. ... Speaking of possible FCS-over-FBS upsets, UT Martin (6-3) will return to the site of its first-ever FBS win last year when it again plays struggling Memphis (1-6) at the Liberty Bowl. The Skyhawks have scored a season high for points in each of its last two games - both wins.
WHAT WE KNOW, WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW
The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at http://tinyurl.com/88q2k7t.
Also, once again this season, In the FCS Huddle is projecting the potential FCS playoff field. The projections are a long-range look at the season - not based off current records or rankings - and can be found at http://www.sportsnetwork.com/fcs/FCS_Bracket.pdf.
WEEK 11 PICKS
Week 10 Record: 42-18 (.700)
Season Record: 493-161 (.754)
Thursday, Nov. 7
X-Prairie View A&M (5-4, 4-3 SWAC) at Alcorn State (7-3, 5-2), 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 9
X-Brown (5-2, 2-2 Ivy) at Yale (4-3, 2-2), noon
X-Monmouth (4-5) at Wagner (2-7), noon
Wesley (6-2) at X-Charlotte (4-5), noon
Saint Francis (Pa.) (3-5, 1-2 NEC) at X-Bryant (4-5, 2-2), noon
Duquesne (5-3, 3-1 NEC) at X-Sacred Heart (8-2, 2-2), noon
Robert Morris (4-4, 2-1 NEC) at X-Central Connecticut State (4-5, 2-1), noon
X-Princeton (6-1, 4-0 Ivy) at Penn (4-3, 3-1), noon
X-Harvard (6-1, 3-1 Ivy) at Columbia (0-7, 0-4), 12:30 p.m.
No. 22 James Madison (6-3, 3-2 CAA) at X-No. 25 New Hampshire (4-4, 3-2), 12:30 p.m.
X-Villanova (4-5, 3-3 CAA) at Rhode Island (3-7, 2-4), 12:30 p.m.
Holy Cross (3-7, 1-2 Patriot) at X-No. 21 Lehigh (6-2, 1-1), 12:30 p.m.
Appalachian State (2-7) at X-Georgia (5-3), 12:30 p.m.
Savannah State (1-9, 0-6 MEAC) at X-Howard (3-6, 2-4), 1 p.m.
X-North Carolina Central (4-5, 2-3 MEAC) at Hampton (3-6, 3-2), 1 p.m.
Bucknell (4-4) at X-No. 7 Fordham (9-0), 1 p.m.
X-Gardner-Webb (5-4, 0-2 Big South) at VMI (1-8, 0-4), 1 p.m.
Richmond (3-6, 1-4 CAA) at X-Stony Brook (3-5, 1-4), 1 p.m.
X-San Diego (6-3, 5-1 Pioneer) at Morehead State (3-6, 3-3), 1 p.m.
X-Marist (6-3, 5-1 Pioneer) at Campbell (2-7, 1-5), 1 p.m.
Valparaiso (1-8, 1-5 Pioneer) at X-Butler (7-3, 5-1), 1 p.m.
X-No. 2 Eastern Illinois (8-1, 5-0 OVC) at Murray State (5-4, 3-2), 1 p.m.
X-North Carolina A&T (5-3, 2-3 MEAC) at Morgan State (3-6, 3-2), 1 p.m.
X-No. 20 Samford (6-3, 4-1 Southern) at Furman (4-5, 3-2), 1:30 p.m.
X-The Citadel (3-6, 3-4 Southern) at Elon (2-7, 1-4), 1:30 p.m.
Go-Game of the Week: X-No. 5 Coastal Carolina (9-0, 3-0 Big South) at No. 18 Charleston Southern (9-1, 2-0), 1:30 p.m. The visiting Chanticleers' strength of non-conference schedule is looking more impressive by the week. They would clinch the Big South automatic playoff bid with a win and a loss by Presbyterian at Liberty.
Florida A&M (3-6, 2-3 MEAC) at X-South Carolina State (6-3, 4-1), 1:30 p.m.
X-Texas Southern (2-7, 2-6 SWAC) at Mississippi Valley State (1-8, 1-6), 2 p.m.
No. 17 Wofford (5-3, 4-1 Southern) at X-No. 24 Chattanooga (7-2, 5-1), 2 p.m.
Tennessee Tech (3-7, 0-6 OVC) at X-Southeast Missouri State (2-7. 1-4), 2 p.m.
Southern (5-4, 5-2 SWAC) at X-Alabama State (6-3, 6-1), 2 p.m.
X-Jackson State (7-2, 7-0 SWAC) at Alabama A&M (3-6, 3-4), 2 p.m.
Northern Colorado (1-8, 0-5 Big Sky) at X-North Dakota (2-7, 1-5), 2 p.m.
X-Dayton (6-3, 4-2 Pioneer) at Drake (5-4, 4-2), 2 p.m.
Western Carolina (2-7, 1-4 Southern) at X-Georgia Southern (4-4, 2-4), 2 p.m.
X-No. 10 Montana (7-2) at South Dakota (4-5), 2 p.m.
X-Southern Utah (6-3, 3-2 Big Sky) at Weber State (1-8, 0-5), 3 p.m.
X-Missouri State (4-6, 4-2 Missouri Valley) at Southern Illinois (5-4, 3-2), 3 p.m.
Austin Peay (0-9, 0-5 OVC) at X-Tennessee State (7-3, 4-2), 3 p.m.
X-No. 23 William & Mary (6-3, 3-2 CAA) at No. 15 Delaware (7-2, 4-1), 3 p.m.
Nicholls (4-5, 1-3 Southland) at X-No. 6 Sam Houston State (7-2, 3-1), 3 p.m.
X-Abilene Christian (5-4) at Incarnate Word (5-4), 3 p.m.
X-Davidson (0-9, 0-6 Pioneer) at Stetson (1-7, 0-5), 3 p.m.
Jacksonville (4-5, 3-3 Pioneer) at X-Mercer (8-1, 4-1), 3 p.m.
Indiana State (1-8, 0-5 Missouri Valley) at X-No. 19 South Dakota State (5-4, 2-3), 3 p.m.
Co-Game of the Week: X-No. 4 Montana State (7-2, 5-0 Big Sky) at No. 3 Eastern Washington (7-2, 5-0), 3:10 p.m. Both stars and similarities abound. The Big Sky co-leaders are both on a five-game winning streak and have lost only to an FBS team and a Southland Conference opponent.
Colgate (3-6, 2-1 Patriot) at X-Lafayette (3-5, 3-0), 3:30 p.m.
Illinois State (5-4, 4-2 Missouri Valley) at X-No. 1 North Dakota State (8-0, 5-0), 3:30 p.m.
X-No. 8 Maine (8-1, 5-0 CAA) at Albany (1-8, 0-5), 3:30 p.m.
Presbyterian (3-5, 1-1 Big South) at X-Liberty (5-4, 2-1), 3:30 p.m.
Grambling State (1-9, 1-6 SWAC) at X-Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-7, 1-5), 3:30 p.m.
Cornell (1-6, 0-4 Ivy) at X-Dartmouth (3-4, 2-2), 4 p.m.
Lamar (4-5, 1-3 Southland) at X-Northwestern State (4-5, 1-3), 4 p.m.
Norfolk State (2-7, 2-3 MEAC) at X-No. 12 Bethune-Cookman (8-1, 5-0), 4 p.m.
X-No. 11 McNeese State (7-2, 3-1 Southland) at Stephen F. Austin (3-6, 1-3), 4 p.m.
X-Eastern Kentucky (6-3, 4-1 OVC) at Jacksonville State (7-2, 3-2), 4 p.m.
UT Martin (6-3) at X-Memphis (1-6), 4:30 p.m.
X-No. 9 Youngstown State (8-1, 5-0 Missouri Valley) at Northern Iowa (4-5, 0-5), 5 p.m.
X-Old Dominion (6-3) at Idaho (1-8), 5 p.m.
X-Portland State (5-4, 2-3 Big Sky) at Idaho State (3-6, 1-5), 5:05 p.m.
X-No. 16 Southeastern Louisiana (7-2, 4-0 Southland) at Central Arkansas (5-4, 2-2), 8 p.m.
Sacramento State (4-5, 3-2 Big Sky) at X-Cal Poly (4-5, 3-2), 9:05 p.m.