Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell is Sporting Information’ 2020 Coach of the Yr

Even before the 2020 college football season began, Jamey Chadwell knew it would be different than his Coastal Carolina team had ever done.

Such is life amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has destroyed some of college football’s most established institutions. That includes rivalries, bowl season – even the college football playoffs.

To survive such a season largely unscathed is an achievement in itself. However, Chadwell’s Chanticleers went above and beyond to win 11-1, win their first FBS-level conference co-championship, and secure their first bowl spot in program history. All of this in the fourth year of the program as an FBS team. All of this after the 5-7 in 2019. All of this after being selected last in the Sun Belt East Division.

For these reasons and more, Sporting News named Chadwell Coach of the Year 2020.

SN PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alabamas DeVonta Smith

“You know, college football is a special game,” Chadwell told Sporting News. “But it’s still a game and I wanted our boys to enjoy it more than ever this year because of the pandemic. We didn’t guarantee every week and tried to have as much fun with it as possible. “

It’s been a fun season for Coastal Carolina that featured Mormons vs. Mullets, College GameDay’s first visit to Conway, SC, post-game wrestling matches, big games, and bigger personalities. It was a far cry from what anyone outside of the program expected.

The Chanticleers sophomore coach had no problem using these expectations – or lack thereof – to motivate his team. He knew they were better than advertised on their 2019 record. And he knew that this would enable him to achieve a specific goal for 2020.

“We lost five of those losses by a total of 24 points,” said Chadwell. “And so our whole topic this off-season – we actually wore a bracelet – was 24. And we wanted to do everything we can to overcome those 24 points.

“This is how we tried to plan the season. We will overcome these 24 points.”

Coastal Carolina did that and more, and enjoyed what Chadwell called one of the funniest season he has ever participated in. But everything the team enjoyed in 2020 was only possible thanks to an incredible amount of work. In addition to the usual team-specific preparations each week, he and his staff had to make sure they had enough players to field a team every Saturday. And at the end of the week, he needed her to turn around and start the process over.

“We tested every Wednesday,” Chadwell told SN, “and on Thursday morning you hold your breath.”

He didn’t have to worry: his team fully bought in and produced zero positive COVID-19 tests for 11 consecutive weeks. That consistency and accountability resulted in an unbeaten regular season that included victories against Power 5 opponents Kansas, previously undefeated Louisiana, and two-time defending Sun Belt champion Appalachian State.

Chadwell points to the Georgia Southern game as the point he knew could be special this season. Ranked # 1 for the first time in program history, the team handled the sudden surge of attention and won 28-14 with the injury-related start of quarterback Grayson McCall.

But no game embodied the 2020 season better or highlighted Chadwell’s coaching spirit better than the BYU game on December 5th. Not only did Coastal Carolina have to cancel its game plan against Liberty, who was eliminated mid-week due to COVID-19 issues, it also only had a few days to prepare for the undefeated Cougars.

As Chadwell relates, he only found out about the opponent’s possible change on Wednesday after his team had finished training. After a quick call to sporting director Matt Hogue, Coastal Carolina went into what is known as “scramble mode”. He immediately used his assistants to disassemble the BYU film. The next morning it was confirmed that the two teams would play.

“What was surreal about the whole thing was that we were sitting here on Saturday morning around 9:30 am and 10:00 am watching ‘GameDay’ and finishing the game plan for BYU.” Said Chadwell. “And we watch TV and we all look at each other and leave. ‘GameDay is right in front of our stadium. You are literally right in the field. ‘

“And it just hit us there. We say, “You know, this is crazy.” But it took us about a minute there to bring everything in and say, “This is incredible. We’re playing a college football game in two days and College GameDay is here. ‘”

The competition that followed was one of the most entertaining of the season: a highly competitive game that resulted in a 27-22 win for the Chanticleers by stopping at the goal line at the last second. As incredible as the season was, it was only because Chadwell’s players chose his message every week. Once they did that, the victories and the awards that followed took care of themselves.

The team received 16 selections for the All-Sun Belt team, including 10 selections for the first team. They also received five of the conference’s six individual awards: Player and Newbie of the Year (McCall); Defensive Player of the Year (Tarron Jackson defensive end); Newcomer of the Year (Cornerback D’Jordan Strong); and of course coach of the year.

Coastal Carolina’s success, both on a team and an individual level, was no accident. Chadwell has helped cultivate the team since joining the team in 2017, the first year of the FBS level program. He led the team to a 3-9 record that year as an interim coach in place of Joe Moglia, who missed coaching during his medical vacation.

Chadwell saw the program struggle through three losing seasons from 2017-19. But he also saw the core of that 2017 team – which included nine fifth-year seniors who were part of the transition from FCS to FBS – soaring. Chadwell said this was one of the best parts of the 2020 campaign.

“That 17 year year was personally one of the worst years of my life from a professional standpoint,” said Chadwell. “But having the same group, the same core. … still being here and taking those lumps with you and then seeing where they are now, being a mockery of being the darlings of college football and the American team … it’s amazing.

“It’s a special group and a special team to be part of.”

This is certainly not least thanks to the coach who led them.

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