Perhaps no team has captured the heart and imagination of college football fans in 2020 as much as Coastal Carolina.
The Chanticleers, in just their fourth season as a Division I FBS team, have stormed to an 11-0 record under second-year coach Jamey Chadwell, winning the the Sun Belt co-division championship alongside Louisiana (they have a 30-27 head-to-head win against the Ragin’ Cajuns, but their championship game rematch was canceled due to COVID-19 issues, causing the Sun Belt to consider them co-champions).
As incredible as their season has been, however, the question remains:
What exactly is a Chanticleer?
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It’s a question Coastal Carolina is prepared to answer. Indeed, the university’s official site has several articles dedicated to that very question. Sporting News is here to help answer that question as well. With that, here’s everything you need to know about the Chanticleers, the nickname’s origins and history at Coastal and Carolina, and more.
What is a chanticleer?
Simply put, a chanticleer — pronounced SHON-ti-cleer — is a rooster. In that sense, Coastal Carolina’s nickname isn’t unique (though it is still uncommon). Three other Division I football teams have similar nicknames: the South Carolina Gamecocks (FBS), the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (FCS) and the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens (FCS).
What sets Coastal Carolina’s Chanticleers nickname apart is its origin: It was inspired by Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” specifically “The Nun’s Priest Tale.” Here’s how the chanticleer was described in said story:
“His comb was redder than fine coral and turreted like a castle wall, his bill was black and shone like a jet, and his legs and toes were like azure. His nails were whiter than the lily and his feathers were like burnished gold.”
Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Coastal Carolina’s official colors — teal and bronze — somewhat resemble the physical description of Chaucer’s chanticleer. What isn’t coincidental is how it came to be the official nickname of Coastal Carolina.
Why is Coastal Carolina’s nickname the Chanticleers?
The Chanticleers nickname was purposefully selected for the team in 1963, not only because of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” but also because of Coastal Carolina’s relationship with its parent university.
Coastal, then a two-year branch campus of the University of South Carolina, chose its name to mirror South Carolina’s Gamecock nickname. As one Coastal Carolina article puts it, such a naming practice “was an important consideration in those days.”
Prior to the name change, Coastal Carolina’s nickname was the Trojans.
The person officially recognized for choosing the Chanticleers is Cal F. Maddox, an English teacher for three years at Coastal Carolina, starting in 1962. When the university — which didn’t have an athletics department at the time — created a basketball team in 1963 to compete in a regional league, Maddox was chosen to coach.
“I was no coach, but when (Coastal Carolina chancellor) Dick Singleton asked me to do it, I accepted,” Maddox said.
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The English professor chose the Chanticleer nickname, as it met the criteria of similarity to South Carolina’s Gamecocks and alluded to the literary figure. Per a 2002 article from the Coastal Carolina University Magazine, Fox also considered it appropriate considering his young team would need to use their wits and teamwork to be successful, much like the chanticleer from Chaucer’s tales.
Per the article, players on the team considered other names, including the Seahawks and Sharks, before settling on the Chanticleers. Fox considered whether to hold an official poll for a new nickname after the end of the first season, but Singleton reportedly advised against it due to the significant media coverage of the curious nickname.
Thus, the Chanticleer name stuck, even when the university broke away from South Carolina in 1993 to become an independent public university.
What is Coastal Carolina’s mascot?
Coastal Carolina’s mascot is called Chauncey — a clear allusion to Chaucer.
The team also debuted a live mascot in 2011 with a rooster named Maddox, chosen by a student vote to honor the man who dubbed Coastal Carolina the Chanticleers.