A 25-minute drive on the highway separates The Citadel with Charleston Southern, but only two football seasons separate the Bulldogs from facing the Buccaneers on the gridiron.
On Monday, several outlets reported that The Citadel renewed an old rivalry with Charleston Southern for a total of four football games at Johnson Hagood Stadium starting in 2018. This reestablished a rivalry between the two schools, and The Citadel athletic director, Jim Senter, is energized about the recent agreement.
“I think it’s great,” Senter told Today’s U and others. “It’s not only great for the two schools, but its great for FCS football. It’s great for the Charleston and the Charleston community. You’ve got two excellent teams here, and they do a great job up there.”
Senter says the deal has been in the works for the last couple of weeks, but the logistics of the contest have made natural sense for much longer. Given the short distance between The Citadel and CSU, Senter envisioned a compromise between the two schools, one in which The Citadel will give CSU 3,000 tickets to sell.
“You can just play a team that’s 15 miles up the road,” Senter said. “That makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense for our fans. It makes a lot of sense for their fans. It makes a lot of sense for our players and their players as well. We are looking forward to it. It’s just a shame we couldn’t get something scheduled a little bit earlier, but sometimes that’s the way the scheduling process goes, you know?”
During the Buccaneers’ first game of the 2016 season, Charleston Southern dropped an overtime game against North Dakota State by a 24-17 score. Although that paints NDSU in a corner, the Bison left an impression on the future rivalry renewed between CSU and The Citadel.
“Obviously, for those of you who didn’t have a chance to watch CSU play North Dakota State the other night, what a phenomenal football game,” Senter said. “They did an amazing job, and they represented South Carolina and the Lowcountry very, very well. Obviously they are Big South Conference. I think it is a no-brainer for us to play them. There really is no expense of us to travel to play them, and it is an easy game, you can get home after the game for either team.”
On top of the geographical context in which the renewal of this rivalry makes sense, both programs are experiencing success in their respective leagues. With the rivalry in mind, The Citadel’s prosperity helps elevate the rivalry since CSU is fielding one of its most competitive teams in recent years despite the loss to NDSU.
“They are a marquee team in their league,” Senter said. “I like to believe we are a marquee team in our league, and it makes for great sense in the Lowcountry. So, we’ve been working on this for a while, and the challenge is each one of us has to look at our respective schedules.”
Now that the two teams have found common ground on how Charleston Southern and The Citadel will split revenue at Johnson Haygood Stadium, both schools will experience a revitalized sense of the rivalry that exists between them.