Big Ten: Sonny Vacarro
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Most college football fans have some knowledge of Missouri, Cal, Utah, Syracuse, Northern Illinois and maybe even Akron (hey, Jason Taylor played there). But seriously, does anyone know what a Chanticleer is? Put your hands down, liars.
It's time to take a closer look at some of Big Ten's lesser-known opponents for Week 1. Learning about these far-flung teams is one of the fun parts about the nonconference schedule. It's a bit like the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, except these games are never played on neutral sites. But as Michigan found out last year against Appalachian State, not all these teams are showing up just for a hefty check.
Here's the skinny on the squads visiting State College, Iowa City, Bloomington and Columbus on Saturday.
COASTAL CAROLINA CHANTICLEERS (at Penn State)
- Location: Conway, S.C. (15 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach)
- Enrollment: 7,872 as of fall 2007
- Football coach: David Bennett (39-17, sixth year at CC; 102-34, 13th year overall)
- Conference: Big South (Football Championship Subdivision)
- 2007 record : 5-6
- Fun fact: According to the Coastal Carolina football media guide, the nickname Chanticleer comes from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (I wonder if it's required reading for football players). "A Chanticleer is a rooster who rules the barnyard with cunning and wit. His competitiveness never wanes as he battles to the end, using his brains to come out on top every time." Somehow I don't think their brains will help them against Penn State. Coastal Carolina athletic director Moose Koegel was a co-captain for Penn State's football team under Paterno in 1970.
MAINE BLACK BEARS (at Iowa)
- Location: Orono, Maine (125 miles northeast of Portland)
- Enrollment: 8,777 as of fall 2007
- Football coach: Jack Cosgrove (80-90, 16th season at Maine)
- Conference: Colonial (Football Championship Subdivision)
- 2007 record : 4-7
- Fun fact(s): Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz served in the same role at Maine from 1990-92, finishing with a record of 12-21 (Cosgrove was his offensive coordinator). The Black Bears beat Mississippi State in 2004 and face a Division I-A opponent for the fifth straight year. Author Stephen King is among Maine's famous alumni. The Black Bears had seven players on NFL rosters last season, the most among FCS schools.
WESTERN KENTUCKY HILLTOPPERS (at Indiana)
- Location: Bowling Green, Ky. (110 miles south of Louisville)
- Enrollment: 19,215
- Football coach: David Elson (37-22, sixth year at WKU and overall)
- Conference: Independent
- 2007 record : 7-5
- Fun fact(s): The Hilltoppers are in their final year as a Division I-A independent before joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2009. They won the 2002 FCS national championship under coach Jack Harbaugh, the father of Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, and have 12 straight winning seasons. Famous alums include Cleveland Browns coach Romeo Crennel and former Minnesota basketball coach Clem Haskins. The 2008 schedule includes 10 Division I-A opponents this fall. And Elson can wield a sledgehammer. Both Elson and Indiana coach Bill Lynch attended Butler.
YOUNGSTOWN STATE PENGUINS (at Ohio State)
- Location: Youngstown, Ohio (70 miles southeast of Cleveland)
- Enrollment: 13,497 as of fall 2007
- Football coach: Jon Heacock (50-31, eighth year at YSU at overall)
- Conference: Missouri Valley (Football Championship Subdivision)
- 2007 record : 7-4
- Fun fact(s): Youngstown is a tradition-rich program with four FCS national championships, 25 FCS playoff victories and six appearances in the title game. Heacock succeeded Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and is the younger brother of Buckeyes defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. The Penguins have sent 21 players to the NFL, including quarterback Ron Jaworski and kickers Paul McFadden and Jeff Wilkins. Other notable alumni include Kansas coach Mark Mangino, actor Ed O'Neill and ABCD All-America basketball camp founder Sonny Vaccaro.