Coastal Carolina wide receiver Devin Brown outruns the North Dakota State defense for touchdown during during the first half of an FCS quarterfinal NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, in Fargo, N.D. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
Bruce Crummy
July 12, 2016

(STATS) - Now you see, now you don't.

That's the scenario with the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, who are playing their final season in the FCS as an independent while they transition to the FBS level next season.

Officially, Coastal is already a member of the Sun Belt Conference - having joined on July 1, just one day after the Chanticleers' baseball team won the College World Series while representing the Big South Conference.

But Coastal isn't eligible for the FBS level until next year, so its football program will play a lame-duck, 12-game schedule against FCS teams. While the Chants aren't eligible for the FCS playoffs after making appearances each of the last four years, they should win often this year behind their growing talent under coach Joe Moglia and eight games at home.

Yet, a question persists: Will Coastal get its due in the STATS FCS Top 25?

The Chants have appeared in the national media poll for 44 consecutive weeks over three seasons. But recent history suggests some backlash, as voters demonstrated in 2013 while FCS national powers Georgia Southern and Appalachian State played their final season in the subdivision before rising to the FBS, also in the Sun Belt.

Voters were lukewarm about recognizing the two Southern Conference members, whose programs combined for nine FCS national titles, as poll-worthy.

Both teams were coming off playoff seasons in 2012, with Georgia Southern reaching the national semifinals for the third consecutive year. But Georgia Southern's No. 9 ranking in the preseason poll was the only time either team was ranked in the Top 10. Once both teams fell from the rankings during the season, they didn't return.

Appalachian State deserved it, falling to 4-8 - its first losing season in 20 years. But Georgia Southern finished 7-4 with a season-ending win at Florida and probably deserved to be part of the final Top 25.

Like those two teams, Coastal Carolina is going above the FCS scholarship limit of 63 as part of its transition to the FBS' maximum of 85. That gives voters more reason to discount the Chants than just negativity over a program leaving the FCS behind.

But the NCAA recognizes Coastal as an FCS member this season and 12 FCS schools didn't have a problem with scheduling the Chanticleers.

It will be interesting to see how voters perceive them this season.

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