July 2, 2016

by Ryan McGee

Coastal Championship Brings Rivals Together

"Oh, man. ... Can you believe this?"

It was Thursday night around midnight, barely eight hours after Coastal Carolina had won the College World Series, and head coach Gary Gilmore was being summoned to look out the window of the team airplane.

"Sure, I figured a few folks would show up to greet us when we got home," he recalled thinking. "But I'm not sure the Myrtle Beach airport has ever had that many people there all at one time. This was bigger than spring break."…

…Just how big might not be known for a while. Coastal is a school already experiencing rapid growth. There were a little over 7,500 CCU students a decade ago. Now that number is around 10,000, with a plan in place to reach 12,500. History suggests that the admissions office is about to become very busy. After reaching the Final Four in 2013, Wichita State saw an 81 percent jump in applications. In 2010, Butler's near-national title created a 41 percent increase. After Fresno State won the College World Series in 2008, it experienced a double-digit leap in out-of-state interest.

According to Joyce Julius & Associates, which monitors sports media exposure, Coastal Carolina had already received nearly 12,000 national media mentions even prior to winning the championship. In Omaha, there was little doubt as to who was also the two-week champion of merchandise sales. It was the same team that ended up becoming the actual champion. There was a lot of teal seen around eastern Nebraska in late June.

On Friday, as thousands of fans lined the streets of Conway and thousands more packed still-new Springs Brooks Stadium to celebrate with their team, they all wore that same teal. No matter how hard it was to come by…