WPDE Sports Director Rich Chrampanis was the host of the David Bennett Show for the entire nine year tenure at Coastal Carolina. Here is a full recap of the dismissal of the CCU football coach with links to WPDE Sports entire coverage.
I spoke with David Bennett at 3:30 pm on Friday. He was coming off a recruiting trip that took up most of his week. It goes without saying that Bennett had absolutely no idea what was about to happen later in the day. Bennett was supposed to attend the Mr. Football awards ceremony, but never got there as he was summoned to a meeting with Dr. David DeCenzo and Hunter Yurachek where he was relieved of his head coaching duties. An email came to WPDE Sports inbox at 6:14 pm. The press conference was at 7pm.
CCU President Dr. David DeCenzo focused on dollars and cents and poor attendance as reasons for a change."Of the 125 FCS schools, our spending on football operations is easily in the top 20. With that investment, we expect to annually place in the top 20 programs, with sights set on competing consistently for the FCS playoffs and national championships. That is simply not happening. In addition, when you look at our record over the past five years, we have beaten only 3 teams that had winning records. Our attendance at games has fallen sharply; we sell about 50 percent of our available tickets. It is imperative that we find a way to create excitement around our program, attract more fans to Brooks Stadium, and increase our revenues to offset our expenditures." Bennett's Resume
In nine years, Bennett had a 63-39 record with four Big South titles and two FCS playoff appearances. Five CCU players have played in the NFL. Bennett was named Big South Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2010. He became one of the most recognizable names in Horry County as a regular speaker at charity functions and groups. He founded Collin's Kids, a foundation named after a Bennett neighbor, Collin Raybon, who was killed in an ATV accident.
Coastal Carolina finished 7-4 in 2011, the most wins since the 2006 season. CCU finished the year on a three game win streak, but losses to Gardner-Webb at home and road losses to Liberty and Stony Brook ended any chance of a post-season berth.
In September of 2011, Bennett received worldwide attention when his press conference prior to the Catawba game became a viral video. "Cats and Dogs" reached over 1,000,000 hits.
Firing vs. Reassignment
While the dismissal of Bennett was thought out and thorough on the part of the University brass, the reassignment is not. There are no details on what role Bennett may have and if he will accept a role within the University. Bennett has five years remaining on his ten year contract and there is a buyout. The root of this is a termination of David Bennett as head football coach. The University does not like to hear the word fired associated with the move, but one thing is crystal clear: Bennett is out as football coach. Semantics aside, Bennett was fired as head football coach. The reassignment may or may not happen down the road.
The future of the staff and players
For the moment, the assistant coaches are still being employed by Coastal, but will likely be replaced once a head coach is named. Yurachek confirmed in the press conference that the next head coach will not be one of the current CCU assistants. Yurachek intends on meeting with the players on Sunday.
Reaction on Bennett's dismissal
Joel Turner, agent for Tyler Thigpen, Mike Tolbert and Quinton Teal
"Coach Bennett's being relieved of his coaching duties is a travesty. As for my NFL clients who are Coastal alums ... they are very unhappy and upset over this."
Tyler Thigpen, Buffalo Bills QB (former CCU All-American)
I am so thankful for the opportunity that Coach Bennett gave me to play the game i love in college...Without Him i wouldn't be where i am today...You changed so many lives of the players that played for you, Including mine
"I can guarantee you that Coastal will lose a lot of support after this firing of Coach Bennett. They tell him he should win a national championship but when the administration isn't behind him how do you expect him to do so."
FCS All-Star Game
Bennett told me that he will still coach the FCS All-Star game set for December 17th at Doug Shaw Stadium. Bennett and the CCU football staff will coach the South All-Stars in a game that will feature top players from FCS football playing in front of NFL scouts.
The next coach
Names will get thrown around during Hunter Yurachek's search for the next Coastal football coach. Sources have told me that one name that will be a target for the next CCU coach is Gamecocks assistant coach Steve Spurrier, Junior. Lawson Holland, who is in a VP role at the University was a longtime assistant football coach for Steve Spurrier, Senior. There's a logical connection that he would lobby for Spurrier's son to get his first opportunity as a college football head coach. When Coastal was 2-5 in 2010, I had heard grumblings about Spurrier, Junior being a replacement for Bennett if the Chanticleers faltered. CCU went on to win its last three regular season games and a berth in the FCS playoffs. Spurrier, Junior was at the WPDE End Zone banquet on Thursday night and his focus was entirely on the Gamecocks recruiting effort and the upcoming bowl game against Nebraska.