The Final Chanticleer Call-In this Thursday will be from 6-7 pm at LIVE from Logan's
Kickoff in Charleston, is set for 1:30 pm
Thanks Coastal fans for voting!
Top two game to be revealed Saturday at Brooks Stadium
Football vs. Gardner-Webb (Oct. 22, 2011)
David Bennett, the 2010 Big South Coach of the Year, is starting his 10th season as the head football coach at Coastal Carolina University -- his ninth as the Chanticleers' on-field leader. He has amassed a 56-35 overall record while at Coastal, including 24-13 (.647) mark in the Big South Conference to be the league's all-time winningest coach, both in overall and conference wins. In 15 years as a head coach, his record stands at 119-52.
Bennett had a busy 2010 heading into the season. First, he was voted vice president of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). In the spring, two key more honors were bestowed upon Bennett. After taking the Catawba football to unprecedented heights during his time as head coach, the school voted Bennett into its Athletics Hall of Fame. Last, Bennett received the Key to the City of Marion.
That was just a precursor to what would be an impressive 2010 football season. After starting the 2010 season 0-3 and being 2-5 at the mid-point of the season, Bennett rallied his troops, using a critical overtime-win at Gardner-Webb to spark an phenomenal finish. The turnaround was based on impressive defense and the emergence of senior quarterback Zach MacDowall as a leader. Not only did he will the Chants to victory at Gardner-Webb -- with several key defensive contributors to get Coastal to overtime in the first place, but he was masterful running the offense in a 31-3 win at VMI. Coastal returned home and set the tone early en route to a 45-31 upset of #11 Liberty. MacDowall was named National and Big South Offensive Player of the Week while Matt Hazel was named Big South Freshman of the Week as Coastal rolled up 541 yards of offense --Eric O'Neal rushed for 102 and MacDowall threw for 382 and three TDs, all to Hazel.
That win over Liberty opened the door for Coastal to claim a share of the Big South title. Coastal would have to beat nemesis Charleston Southern and have Liberty beat Stony Brook. First, Coastal did it part by cruising to a 70-3 win over CSU. Liberty did its part as well, beating Stony Brook, making a three-way tie for the conference crown -- Coastal, Liberty and Stony Brook each with 5-1 records.
With 2010 marking the first year the Big South would earn an automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Championship, the three schools put the league's tie-breakers in use to the fullest with Coastal coming out on top based on fewest points allowed in conference play. In turn, Coastal earned the Big South's first automatic berth to the NCAA FCS Championship, meaning Coastal remained the only Big South team to ever make a playoff appearance, earning the league's first at-large berth in 2006. Coastal then became the first Big South team to host a playoff game, welcoming Western Illinois to Brooks Stadium. The season came to a tough ending, falling 17-10 in the first round.
The team success translated to numerous individual honors. Tight end David Duran and long snapper Danny Bonifas were named All-American, Bennett was named Big South Coach of the Year and Andrae Jacobs was selected Big South Defensive Player of the Year. The Chants also had 12 student-athletes make All-Big South including first team picks Jacobs, Duran, Bonifas, Dominique Davenport and Josh Norman as well as second team picks MacDowall, O'Neal, Brandon Whitley, Seth Smalls, Jamey Cheatwood, Kent Harper and Niccolo Mastromatteo.
The 2009 season which saw the Chanticleers produce their 13th and 14th All-Americans in just eight seasons thanks to first team pick Tommy Fraser and third team selection Norman.
In 2007, Bennett recorded his 100th career coaching victory in a 42-35 Big South win over visiting VMI at Coastal Carolina's Homecoming.
That was not the only highlight for that year as, in the spring of 2008, wide receiver Jerome Simpson became the second league player ever taken in the National Football League draft, as he was a second-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals. In addition, fullback Mike Tolbert was signed as a free agent by the San Diego Chargers, putting four Coastal Carolina alums in 2008 NFL training camps.
The 2006 season was a historic one for Bennett's young Coastal Carolina program, as the squad became the third fastest in history to reach the Division I Football Championships in just its fourth season. After winning their third-straight Big South Conference title with a 4-0 mark, the team finished with a 9-2 regular season record, including non-conference wins over No. 3 Furman and at Wofford. That earned Coastal Carolina a match-up with eventual national champion Appalachian State, where the Chants scored more points on the host Mountaineers than any other team during the 2006 season in the playoffs. For his efforts, Bennett was named National Football Championship Subdivision Coach of the Year by Sportexe.
Coastal Carolina had numerous conference and national honors among the 2006 players, including the Big South's first-ever NFL draft pick as All-American quarterback Tyler Thigpen was selected in the seventh round by the Minnesota Vikings and eventually spent the season on the Kansas City Chiefs' active roster. Thigpen was also seventh in the voting for the Walter Payton Award as the nation's top player, the first player from the league ever to make the ballot. Also joining Thigpen in earning All-American honors from various organizations were defensive back Quinton Teal, offensive lineman Brad Poston and wide receiver Jerome Simpson. Teal also joined Thigpen in the NFL, as he was signed by the Carolina Panthers as a free agent and made the team's roster for the season. Within the Big South, 12 players earned All-Conference accolades, while kicker Josh Hoke earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team honors as presented by CoSIDA for the second consecutive year.
In 2005, the Chanticleers posted a 9-2 mark overall, including a win over defending national champion James Madison, and a 3-1 record in the Big South to earn Big South Co-Champions. Coastal Carolina had 13 players earn All-Conference accolades, as well as having Hoke earn ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team honors, the first Coastal Carolina football player to achieve that honor.
During a historic 2004 season -- when the team went 10-1, Bennett had 14 players earn All-Big South Conference accolades, including Offensive Player of the Year Patrick Hall and Freshman of the Year Jerome Simpson. Bennett also earned the Big South's Coach of the Year honor and was named American Football Coaches' Association Region 2 Coach of the Year for the first time at the I-AA level and fourth time in his career. He was also honored for his efforts by the All-American Football Foundation with the Johnny Vaught Outstanding Head Coach Award.
In addition to his role as vice president, Bennett serves on the AFCA All-American Selection Committee and chairs the AFCA Meeting Room Committee. Prior to the 2006 season, he was selected for the NCAA's I-AA Football Head Coaches Steering Committee. He also serves in the local community on the Board of Directors of the United Way and the Jackson Center for Values and Ethics. Additionally, he is the honorary chairman for the local March of Dimes Walk America.
Bennett, born in Greer, S.C., came to Coastal Carolina after serving seven years as the Head Coach at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. In seven years as the head coach at Catawba, Bennett posted an overall record of 63-17, leading the Indians to three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division II playoffs, including a run into the national semifinal round in 2001.
Bennett, 49, joined the Catawba staff in 1990 as an assistant coach and was promoted to head coach on November 14, 1994. In his first season, he led the Indians to a 7-3 record, earning both South Atlantic Conference and AFCA Coach of the Year honors. The 1996 Indians' squad posted a 9-2 record and captured the SAC Championship.
The 1997 and 1998 teams posted records of 8-3 and 6-4, respectively, before Coach Bennett's program made its assault on the NCAA Division II national football scene. The 1999 season saw Catawba post an 11-2 record and earn the first of three NCAA Division II playoff berths. An 11-1 record and another SAC Championship came in 2000, but the best was yet to come. In 2001, Catawba went 11-2 to give Bennett a 33-5 record over the past three seasons. The Indians won the SAC Championship and the South Region Championship before falling to Grand Valley State in the national semifinals. In addition to the incredible seven-year record as a head coach, Bennett earned four SAC Coach of the Year honors and three AFCA South Region Coach of the Year honors during his career with the Indians.
Raised in Cheraw, S.C., Bennett earned 10 varsity letters at Cheraw High School, where he was named All-Conference in football, basketball, tennis and track. A three-year-starter in football, including the final two at quarterback, he led the Braves to a 20-4 record his final two seasons, including the 1979 AAA State Championship.
A 1984 graduate of Presbyterian College, Bennett lettered in football and golf while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and social studies with a minor in coaching. He earned the Unsung Hero Award from his teammates for his play during the 1983 season. He also began his coaching career at Presbyterian, working with the wide receivers as a student assistant.
Bennett earned his master's degree in guidance and counseling from Clemson University in 1986, where he worked with the running backs on the Tigers' 1986 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship squad. While at Clemson, he coached in the Independence and Gator Bowls.
In 1987, he served as the offensive coordinator at Goose Creek High School, a AAAA program in Charleston, S.C.. The Gators boasted the top rushing offense in the state that season. Bennett then coached at Newberry College before accepting the position at Catawba.
He and his wife Melanie have a daughter, Hayes (18) and a son, Jeb (15).