NCAAF Teams
Ivan Maisel, ESPN Senior Writer 482d

Why can't college football have a Chanticleer of its own?

College Football, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

With only two years of data, it's way too early to declare the College Football Playoff an unqualified success. But let us stipulate that the good news is plentiful: Interest is up, and the selection committee has established its credibility, never easy in the modern-day world of snark and cynicism.

So allow me this brief moment of jealousy. Allow my inner five-year-old to stamp his feet and whine.

Can't we have a Chanticleer? Please?

What's been going on in Omaha at the College World Series the last two weeks has revealed a bug in the Playoff's coding, a flaw in the new postseason tapestry. College football excludes one of the best storylines in sport -- the triumph of the underdog. The new Saturday's America has left no room for the Butler Bulldogs, no room for Leicester City, none for Buster Douglas or Coastal Carolina, the upstart that plays Wednesday night with a chance to win a national title.

Just to be clear, Coastal Carolina does play college football. They spent eight weeks last season ranked No. 1 in the FCS. On Friday, the Chanticleers -- that's how you pronounce "Gamecock' in Myrtle Beach -- officially transition to the FBS as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. In 2018, the football team will begin competition in that league.

Therein lies the dilemma. Does anyone really believe a Group of Five team is going to qualify for the four-team playoff, that a 13-0 team from the Sun Belt that would be voted in ahead of a 12-1 team from the Power Five? If you believe that, then you really do believe in Cinderella.

Joe Moglia knows something about fairy tales. He increased the size of TD Ameritrade 12-fold before resigning as CEO in 2008 to return to coaching football. Moglia, 67, is about to begin his fifth season as the head coach at Coastal Carolina. His record is 41-13 (.759) and the Chanticleers have made the FCS playoffs every season he's been at the helm.

Moglia is reveling in Coastal Carolina's run in Omaha, the home of the business he still serves as chairman of the board. The College World Series is played at TD Ameritrade Park.

"We are the Cinderella team now in baseball," Moglia said Monday. And football?

"I totally believe that we are going to be able to compete at the Sun Belt level," Moglia said. "I totally believe that we are going to be in contention every year, and I would expect us to go to a bowl game every year. But it's going to be very difficult for us to get to the Playoffs. That would be difficult for us in football. I acknowledge that."

Moglia pointed at the rise last season of the Houston Cougars, who earned a New Year's Six bowl berth and then upset Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. He pointed out Boise State's success over the last decade, when the Broncos won three Fiesta Bowls and finished in the top 10 four times. Is that enough?

"It's still very difficult for a school like that to be competing for the national championship," Moglia said.

Iceland, which upset England on Monday in the round of 16, still is given no chance to win the Euro Cup, just as Leicester City was given no chance to win the Premier League. But the Foxes won their first title since they began play 132 years ago.

The impossible doesn't get a chance to happen in college football. If it does, it's sure taking its time. Who was the last champion to come out of nowhere? Auburn in 2010? Oklahoma in 2000? Both teams began the season ranked, and, really, Oklahoma will never be a longshot in this sport. The last team to finish No. 1 after starting the season unranked was Georgia Tech in 1990.

We can't buy a lottery ticket as a lark and find out it won. College football has shown no sign that it's built that way. And it may not be the structure of the Playoff. It may be the structure of the sport. The NBA has no room for Cinderellas, and, really, neither does the NFL.

College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock used to run the Final Four. He has seen George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth and Wichita State win their way into the national men's basketball semifinals in recent years. He became as enthralled as the rest of us when Butler came within a halfcourt shot of beating Duke for the 2010 championship.

"The sports are different," Hancock said. "They're just different. I can't say one is better than the other one. They're just different. We're proud of what we've set up here. While there's no Leicester, people sure do enjoy what we have."

The arguments against increasing the size of the field in the College Football Playoff are sound. No one wants to tamper with the importance of the regular season, especially when it pays the bills for the rest of the athletic department. Over the last two seasons, the pressure necessary to squeeze the Power Five champions into four playoff berths has created compelling football.

But admit it: it would be nice to see the Little Chanticleer That Could wear a helmet instead of a ballcap. It doesn't seem like it's too much to ask.

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