2019 Football, Game 12: The Citadel vs. Wofford

The Citadel vs. Wofford, to be played at historic Johnson Hagood Stadium, with kickoff at 12:00 pm ET on November 23, 2019.

The game will be streamed on ESPN+. Matt Dean will handle play-by-play, while Dominique Allen supplies the analysis.

The contest can be heard on radio via the various affiliates of The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. 

Luke Mauro (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) calls the action alongside analyst Ted Byrne.

The Citadel Sports Network — 2019 radio affiliates

Charleston: WQNT 1450 AM/92.1 FM/102.1 FM (Flagship)
Columbia: WQXL 1470 AM/100.7 FM
Sumter: WDXY 1240 AM/105.9 FM

Links of interest:

Preview from The Post and Courier

“Jeff’s Take” from The Post and Courier

– Game notes from The Citadel and Wofford

SoCon weekly release

“Gameday Central” on The Citadel’s website

Game preview on Wofford’s website

Brent Thompson’s weekly press conference (11/18)

– The Dogs:  Episode 12

I’m going to begin this preview by discussing the fact that the corps of cadets will not be in attendance at Saturday’s game. Obviously, that is ridiculous. Other than the 2004 game against Western Carolina, I am unaware of any other regular-season game in the last 50 years at Johnson Hagood Stadium that did not feature the corps.

There are a few people out there (thankfully, just a few) who don’t think this is a big deal. It is absolutely a big deal. The corps of cadets attending home games is a part of the school’s fabric. It is an essential element of the gameday experience, and a very popular one. It is distinctly traditional in all the best ways.

I got angrier and angrier as I read Jeff Hartsell’s article on this topic.

…when the 2019 schedule was released last January, a home game with Wofford was slated for Nov. 23, the day after The Citadel’s furlough was to begin. The Citadel’s “money game” was early in the season — a Sept. 14 game at Georgia Tech that the Bulldogs won by 27-24.

Athletic director Mike Capaccio said he tried to work with the Southern Conference to get the game moved, but it was too late. Geoff Cabe, the SoCon senior associate commissioner, said the league was unaware at that time of any special requests The Citadel might have for scheduling…

…”When we discussed it with the conference office, they said they were not aware of any rule we had,” said Capaccio, who took over for Jim Senter as The Citadel’s AD in August 2018, about six months after Senter left for Texas-El Paso. “They were not aware that if we didn’t have the corps there, we shouldn’t be having a game.

“But the bottom line is, we signed off on it and approved it.”

Requiring the corps to remain on campus until after the game would have been problematic, given travel plans and other arrangements made in advance.

“There was some discussion about it, but it was kind of a non-starter,” Capaccio said. “Obviously, that’s up to other folks on campus. It’s just a bad situation, and the bottom line is that we approved it.”

Sigh…where to start…

– Capaccio has been the AD at The Citadel since August 15, 2018, and was the interim AD as of no later than July 20 of that year. Of course, he had previously been working for The Citadel Development Foundation, as the school went on an eight-month odyssey to find a new director of athletics (paying a search firm $70,000 in the process) just to pick someone who was already on campus.

I don’t know when the SoCon sent the 2019 football schedule to The Citadel for approval. I would be very surprised if it was sent prior to July of 2018. Maybe it was; that isn’t entirely clear. If so, responsibility for its approval would have fallen on either Jim Senter or former interim AD Rob Acunto.

However, it seems unlikely the schedule would have been approved by the college that far in advance, since it wasn’t officially released until January 2019.

Basically, the schedule got rubber-stamped at The Citadel (readers of this post can make up their own minds as to by whom) and sent back to the SoCon office, seemingly without even a cursory check to determine if there was a potential problem. Then the slate was released by The Citadel on January 31, 2019 (though Wofford had already announced its schedule three days earlier).

– I don’t know when someone in the department of athletics noticed there was a conflict between the Wofford game and Thanksgiving furlough. I’m going to assume it was fairly soon after the release, because a number of other observers spotted it immediately.

There was plenty of time to adjust the academic calendar to account for the late-season home game. Instead, no change was made — presumably, based on Capaccio’s comments in the article, a decision (or non-decision) made by the folks in Bond Hall.

Curiously, VMI was faced with a similar situation this season, and evidently changed its calendar to ensure that the Keydets would be in attendance for its home game this Saturday, a rare example of VMI being more proactive and flexible than The Citadel when it comes to something involving varsity athletics.

– Apparently, Capaccio tried to get the game moved to Thursday, November 21. However, Wofford refused to go along with that plan.

Wofford head coach Josh Conklin:

“…one of the things that came up early on in the scheduling was they talked about moving this game to a Thursday. It wasn’t out of disrespect that we didn’t want to move it. For us, it comes down to the preparation. They are such a difficult team to prepare for offensively and defensively, and…it could be such an important game at the end of the year. Those 2 1/2 days of prep [that Wofford would not have]…are really important to us as a program.”

Conklin didn’t mention that in that scenario, The Citadel also would have had 2 1/2 fewer days of preparation. He was just looking for an easy way to explain why the Terriers weren’t going to go along with the switch.

I don’t think anyone should be surprised that Wofford refused to move the game. It was a great break for the Terriers, after all, as what could potentially have been a key road game would be played with reduced attendance on the home side — not just the absence of the cadets, but also the people who go to the games in part because the corps is there.

Wofford is used to playing in front of small home crowds in Spartanburg, so this turn of events worked out perfectly for the Terriers.

While I honestly can’t be too critical of Wofford for its lack of accommodation, clearly The Citadel won’t owe that school anything the next time it asks the military college for a favor. That next time could come sooner rather than later.

– I am more than a little surprised that the conference office did not know about The Citadel’s academic calendar. I suspect the league schedule is built around various “money games” each school plays, understandably so.

That said, The Citadel has not always had a scheduled “money game” for the last week of the season since the formulation of the current extended furlough period. Seasons in which the Bulldogs could have been assigned a home contest for the last game of the regular season (following the 2004 BOV motion referenced in Jeff Hartsell’s story) include 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2014.

The Citadel played a road conference game on that Saturday in all of those years. Was this simply an amazingly fortuitous series of coincidences? I have my doubts.

It appears that someone in the league office was at least partly aware of the college’s scheduling concerns. Perhaps there was a loss of organizational knowledge sometime in the last five years.

The bottom line is that this whole episode is embarrassing and totally unacceptable, and it was also completely avoidable — a self-inflicted wound.

Mike Capaccio has now been in charge of the department of athletics for more than 15 months. So far, this debacle appears to be the most noteworthy thing to occur on his watch (whether or not he is actually at fault for it). Regarding his performance in the position to date, Capaccio has work to do when it comes to alleviating the concerns of a significant number of supporters of varsity athletics.

I believe responsibility for this affair, though, also must be shouldered by the school administration, including Gen. Walters. Someone in the administration probably needs to personally apologize to the coaches and players on the football team, especially the seniors. They were let down by the school.

Ultimately, the absence of the corps of cadets from Saturday’s game is simply due to ineptitude; nothing more, nothing less.

This little article has been making the rounds on the internet. I want to briefly comment on it, mainly because I think an opposing point of view is necessary, one which also happens to be the correct point of view.

…each year a football official visits the Laurens County Touchdown and creates the unmistakable impression that the refs are good guys who actually know the rules and what they are doing out there…

…Jack Childress, supervisor of officials in the Southern and South Atlantic conferences, pulled off the same trick Thursday. It turns out Childress, who has worn the white referee’s cap in just about every Southern palace where football games are held, knows more about the rules than everyone, with the possible exception of Bob Strock and King Dixon, at The Ridge.

He likely dissuaded most everyone else who thought he (or she) knew the rules, which, at something called a touchdown club, is just about everyone.

The general impression I get from this story is that Jack Childress is great, his officials are greater, and anyone who thinks otherwise is an unsophisticated rube who should shut up already.

Well, guess what. That isn’t true.

SoCon officials simply aren’t very good. Childress has been the football officiating supervisor for the SoCon since 2011, and things haven’t improved — if anything, they have worsened.

I wish that instead of making appearances on the rubber chicken circuit, Childress would spend more time showing his officials the proper way to spot a football. I’m tired of the Bulldogs having to pick up 11 or 12 yards for a first down instead of 10.

Maybe he could also do something about the inconsistencies surrounding the league’s replay review setup….or perhaps he could tell his officials not to become part of the action, particularly in close games.

The Citadel didn’t lose last week solely because of the officiating, but it was a factor. That is a scenario which has been repeated far too often over the years.

I would encourage the new conference commissioner, Jim Schaus, to fix the problem. Actually acknowledging there is a problem would be a good first step.

The coaches and players (and yes, the fans) of the conference deserve better. A lot better.

Not that I want to spend much time (any time, really) on last week’s game, but just a couple of points.

Brent Thompson definitely should have gone for 2 points after the Bulldogs’ last TD. Afterwards, the coach had this to say:

That did cross my mind there. We double-checked with analytics, and it didn’t say it was necessary. But you have the opportunity to put the ball at the 1½ [because of a dead-ball penalty on the Mocs], and that’s something that’s crossed my mind more than once since the game ended.

In this case, I think the coach needs a one-week refund from the data crunchers. I say that as someone who is a big fan of how Thompson has incorporated analytics into his decision-making process.

However, the touchdown was scored almost midway through the fourth quarter. This isn’t a case of going for it too early (as Chattanooga did in the first half). There weren’t going to be that many more possessions.

It was only the second major decision Thompson has made all season in which I strongly disagreed. (The other was his opting to go for 2 in the game against Charleston Southern, which was more complicated but still, in my opinion, a mistake.)

I also felt that the sequence at the end of the first half was not ideal, though it was a bit tricky. Nevertheless, The Citadel ended the half still holding a timeout. I think the Bulldogs may have left one or two plays on the table.

Wofford has played 10 games this season, and is 7-3 (6-1 in the SoCon). The Terriers have lost to South Carolina State, Samford, and Clemson, but have won 7 straight contests versus FCS opposition.

Every other team in the league scheduled 12 regular season games (including Mercer, which actually added a 12th game against Presbyterian after the season had already started). Wofford has not added a 12th game (when given the opportunity to do so because of the calendar) since the 2002 season, declining four subsequent chances to add another game to its slate.

A quick statistical ranking comparison between the Terriers and Bulldogs (these are FCS national rankings, and they include all games, including those versus FBS teams):

  • Yards per play, offense: Wofford (7th), The Citadel (85th)
  • Yards per play allowed, defense: Wofford (70th), The Citadel (98th)
  • Yards per rush, offense: Wofford (3rd), The Citadel (43rd)
  • Yards per rush allowed, defense: Wofford (77th), The Citadel (84th)
  • Offensive third down conversion rate: Wofford (7th), The Citadel (15th)
  • Defensive third down conversion rate: Wofford (40th), The Citadel (82nd)
  • Net Punting: Wofford (26th), The Citadel (5th)
  • Punt return average: Wofford (2nd), The Citadel (74th)
  • Kickoff return average: Wofford (97th), The Citadel (62nd)
  • Fewest penalties per game: Wofford (46th), The Citadel (T-26th)
  • Time of possession: Wofford (2nd), The Citadel (1st)
  • Turnover margin: Wofford (T-56th), The Citadel (T-76th)
  • Offensive team passing efficiency: Wofford (49th), The Citadel (3rd)
  • Defensive team passing efficiency: Wofford (47th), The Citadel (68th)
  • Scoring offense: Wofford (25th), The Citadel (43rd)
  • Scoring defense: Wofford (T-29th), The Citadel (62nd)
  • Red Zone TD rate, offense: Wofford (15th), The Citadel (22nd)
  • Red Zone TD rate, defense: Wofford (104th), The Citadel (36th)

Odds and ends:

– The weather forecast for Saturday in Charleston, per the National Weather Service: partly sunny, with a high of 73 degrees. The forecast called for rain earlier in the week, but now it is anticipated that the skies will be relatively clear.

Per one source that deals in such matters (as of Thursday afternoon), Wofford is a 6 1/2 point favorite over The Citadel. The over/under is 55 1/2.

Through eleven games this season, The Citadel is 5-6 ATS. The over has hit just four times, but two of those occasions have come in the last two contests.

Other lines involving SoCon teams: Furman is a 44-point favorite over, uh, Point; Chattanooga is a 9-point favorite at VMI; Western Carolina is a 57-point underdog at Alabama; Samford is a 48 1/2 point underdog at Auburn; Mercer is a 39-point underdog at North Carolina; and East Tennessee State is a 20 1/2 point underdog at Vanderbilt.

– Also of note: Towson is a 9 1/2 point favorite over Elon, and Charleston Southern is a 2 1/2 point favorite over Campbell.

In games between FCS schools, the biggest spread is 31, with Kennesaw State favored over Gardner-Webb.

– Massey Ratings: The Citadel is ranked 43rd in FCS. The Terriers are 24th.

Massey projects the Bulldogs to have a 36% chance of winning, with a predicted final score of Wofford 31, The Citadel 26.

The top five teams in Massey’s FCS rankings this week: North Dakota State, James Madison, Montana, Sacramento State, and Weber State.

Other rankings this week of varied interest: Northern Iowa is 8th, Towson 12th, Villanova 13th, Maine 18th, Monmouth 21st, Furman 26th, Kennesaw State 31st, Elon 32nd, UT Martin 36th, Florida A&M 38th, Chattanooga 42nd, North Carolin A&T 46th, Holy Cross 49th, South Carolina State 54th, Jacksonville State 57th, Samford 65th, Rhode Island 70th, Colgate 73rd, Duquesne 78th, Campbell 80th, VMI 81st, East Tennessee State 82nd, Charleston Southern 84th, Mercer 85th, Georgetown 93rd, Davidson 100th, Western Carolina 102nd, Gardner-Webb 111th, Merrimack 117th, Presbyterian 125th, and Butler 126th (last).

– Wofford’s notable alumni include sportscaster Wendi Nix, longtime political operative Donald Fowler, and television anchor/reporter Craig Melvin.

– Future FBS opponents for the Terriers include South Carolina (in 2020 and 2022), North Carolina (2021), Virginia Tech (2022), and Clemson (in 2023 and 2027). Wofford also has a home-and-home series scheduled with Kennesaw State in 2021 and 2022.

– Wofford’s roster includes 41 players from the state of South Carolina. Other states represented: Georgia (16 players), North Carolina (10), Florida (7), Ohio (7), Tennessee (6), Kentucky (5), Alabama (4), and one each from Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia.

Offensive lineman Ronnie Brooks is from Washington, DC.

None of the Terriers are from internationally renowned pigskin power Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School. This ludicrous failure to recruit any of the fantastic football players who sport the famed maroon and orange will inevitably lead to the Terriers’ demise as a factor on the gridiron.

– The Citadel’s geographic roster breakdown (per the school’s website) is as follows: South Carolina (53 players), Georgia (29), Florida (8), Texas (5), North Carolina (3), Pennsylvania (3), Alabama (2), New York (2), and one each from Virginia, Nebraska, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, and Kentucky.

In addition, there are two Bulldogs with listed hometowns in other countries — junior tight end Elijah Lowe (Abaco, Bahamas), and freshman linebacker Hayden Williamson (Okinawa, Japan).

– This week’s two-deep for The Citadel is unchanged from last week.

– The Citadel has an all-time record of 5-7 for games played on November 23 (note: the 1935 game against Presbyterian listed in the school’s record book as having been played on November 23 was actually played on November 28).

Among the highlights from past contests on November 23:

  • 1923: On a muddy field at the Allendale County Fair, The Citadel defeated Southern College, 18-3. John “Judge” O’Shaughnessy and Norman Holliday were the stars for the Bulldogs. Incidentally, Southern College is now known as Florida Southern; it is a D-2 school that no longer fields a football team.
  • 1940: Before a crowd of 2,500 fans at the original Johnson Hagood Stadium, The Citadel edged Sewanee, 13-7. Marty Gold scored both touchdowns for the Light Brigade, as the football team was occasionally called during this period of time. The defense held Sewanee to only three first downs.
  • 1946: At Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, The Citadel beat Davidson 21-13 before 4,000 spectators. Luke Dunfee, one of the greatest kick returners in school history, returned a kickoff 92 yards for a TD for the Bulldogs, and also threw a TD pass to Gene Foxworth (the only completion for the Bulldogs on the day). Dick Sparks ran for a 16-yard score, and Bill Henderson converted all three PATs.
  • 1974: In front of 13,210 fans at Johnson Hagood Stadium, The Citadel whipped Davidson, 56-21. Andrew Johnson rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns (one receiving), finishing the season with 1,373 rushing yards (at the time the SoCon single-season record). Gene Dotson rushed for 148 yards and two TDs, and threw another to Mike Riley (with Dotson breaking his thumb on the TD pass). Backup QB Rod Lanning threw a TD pass to Johnson and rushed for two scores himself, with Mike Bazemore adding a 28-yard touchdown run. Billy Long and Mike Dean had interceptions for the Bulldogs.
  • 1991: In Charleston, a Homecoming crowd of 21,623 watched The Citadel beat Furman, 10-6, in one of the most intense contests ever played at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Jack Douglas scored the game’s only touchdown with 6:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, with the winning drive set up by a Lance Cook fumble recovery, after David Russinko had knocked the ball out of the hands of Furman’s quarterback. Rob Avriett kicked a 33-yard field goal and added the PAT after Douglas’ score. Shannon Walker intercepted a pass to thwart a last-gasp drive by the Paladins.

I hope that our players are ready to play this game. I think they will be, though there are a lot of aspects to Saturday that make things a bit cloudy on the prognostication front (and I’m not talking about the weather).

There is a lot of disappointment surrounding this contest – the fallout from the game against Chattanooga, and the failure of the administration which has led to the absence of the corps of cadets. The team has to put all of that behind it (even if some of its fans cannot), and perform at a high level against a good opponent.

Opportunity is still there for the Bulldogs – a 7-win season, a winning league campaign, and even a small chance at the FCS playoffs. If The Citadel were to win on Saturday, it would have the best résumé for an at-large team among all SoCon teams, including Furman.

I’ll be there on Saturday, along with a bunch of my much rowdier friends. The atmosphere won’t be quite the same as it normally would be at Johnson Hagood Stadium, but perhaps it may be memorable in its own way.

Go Dogs!

2 Responses

  1. Well-done!!

    On Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 9:21 AM The Sports Arsenal wrote:

    > Sandlapper Spike posted: “The Citadel vs. Wofford, to be played at > historic Johnson Hagood Stadium, with kickoff at 12:00 pm ET on November > 23, 2019. The game will be streamed on ESPN+. Matt Dean will handle > play-by-play, while Dominique Allen supplies the analysis. The cont” >

  2. Sandlapper Spike, In January 2019 when it was discovered it certainly could have been changed. Release the corps after the game Saturday. Let the corps return to campus on Monday. Air fare is cheaper on Monday than the Sunday after Thanksgiving one of busiest travel days of year. The roads are certainly less crowded on the Monday so the drive would have been easier. My opinion whoever at Bond Hall made the decision didn’t think it is important to have the corps there and probably could care less about football. Very disappointing to say the least. Chris Hoffman citadel1968@earthlink.net

    >

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