Coastal Carolina is known as the Chanticleers, but in the beginning it was a club football team known as the Bulldogs.
Dave Bennett, current Coastal Carolina coach, gives Andy Lanier, a Georgia fan from Blakely, credit for starting football at the South Carolina school.
After a 20-year career in the Air Force, Lanier settled in the Myrtle Beach area and began coaching in the recreational leagues. Several of his players enrolled at Coastal Carolina and kept telling him they wanted to form a club team.
Clemson had a club team. So did Duke and several other college teams in the area.
His former players wouldn’t let go of the idea. What they had in mind was for their friend Andy Lanier to become their coach.
Finally he relented.
He had a football team with no money, no equipment and no administrative support.
The first step was to deal with uniforms or the lack of uniforms. He couldn’t organize a team if he couldn’t hold a workout.
“I called Clemson and South Carolina and asked if they had any outdated equipment they could donate to us,” Lanier said in late summer. “They said, ‘No.’ ”
Having grown up a Georgia fan, his next move was to call Athens. His timing could not have been better. Lanier got the late Howard Beavers, who was Georgia’s equipment manager, on the phone and asked for help.
“Have you got a truck,” Beavers asked? Lanier laughed and said, “Yessirrrr.”
Beavers was about to get rid of a batch of outdated and used equipment — helmets, shoulder pads, game pants, jerseys and a host of assorted accessories.
Before long, Lanier lit out for Athens, and Coastal Carolina not only had a club team, it had a familiar nickname.
“After Mr. Beavers, Coach Dooley and Georgia were so generous,” Lanier said, “we just had to become the Bulldogs. That was my preference anyway.”
Lanier coached the team in 1987-88 and never had more fun. Those Bulldogs played their games on a high school field, and were in the hole $600 before kickoff every game.
Passing the hat was required and soliciting support around town generated enough funds “that a bunch of young kids could play the game because of their love of football.”
For several years, Lanier would cram a bunch of young kids in his car and take them to Athens in to see a game. He comes to Athens for games at least twice a year and remains a passionate Bulldogs fan.
“You should see my office at Socastee High School. I think I have every Georgia poster ever printed on my wall. You can imagine some of the comments I get from Clemson and Carolina fans.”
One interesting development which took place still causes him to chuckle with delight. A local supporter of the Lanier recreational program was a businessman named David Michaux, who had Georgia Tech ties. His son, David Jr., was one of the kids whom Lanier brought to Athens for games.
One day he got a call from the father who addressed Lanier with this greeting. “You s.o.b.” Then after a pause he said: “I sent over $100,000 to Georgia Tech, and I sent $100,000 to Chapel Hill so my son would have a place where he could have a nice introduction to college. Well, guess what! He’s gonna be a bow-wow, and it’s your fault.”
With that the senior Michaux broke out laughing. David Jr. not only graduated from Georgia, he lives in Athens.
When the administration at Coastal Carolina became serious about football, an appreciation for the Coastal Bulldogs was to come about.
Two of his players Mark and Will Adkins became so successful in real estate that they built the athletic field house at Coastal Carolina.
“You know,” Lanier said. “We all have pride, and when I go over on that campus and see that building and think about those boys playing football for me back in the late ’80s, I get a little choked up.”