SoCon - College Football Schedules, Coaching Changes, NFL-Related News & More

May 11, 2023 by Staff

The 2023 football schedule will feature 9 teams playing a complete 8-game round-robin conference schedule, plus 3 unaffiliated teams. All will vie for the automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs.

Here is the school membership for 2023:
East Tennessee State (ETSU)
The Citadel
Western Carolina

Samford (8-0) won the conference title in 2022 while Furman picked up an at-large bid. The Bulldogs made it to the quarterfinals where they lost 27-9 at North Dakota State. The Paladins fell by only 3 points, 41-38, to Incarnate Word in the 2nd round.

NFL Draft

No SoCon players were drafted by an NFL team in April, but several signed undrafted free agent contracts or received a rookie camp invite.

UDFA contracts went to Chattanooga DL Devonnsha Maxwell (Cincinnati) and OL McClendon Curtis (Las Vegas); ETSU RB Jacob Saylors (Cincinnati) and TE Nate Adkins (Denver), Furman WR Ryan Miller (Tampa Bay), Samford LB Nathan East to the L.A. Chargers, and Western Carolina CB Cameron McCutcheon to the L.A. Rams.

Rookie mini camp invitees were Chattanooga LB Ty Boeck (Indianapolis), and VMI long snapper Robert Soderholm (Seattle).

Coaching Changes

Three SoCon schools will have a different head coach for the season-opener than they had for last year's opener - The Citadel, VMI and Wofford.

See the entire list of FCS head coaching changes.

The Citadel: Brent Thompson was let go November 21 after going 36-44 in 7 seasons. He took the Bulldogs to the 2nd round of the FCS Playoffs on his first campaign in 2016 but never came close to replicating that success.

Maurice Drayton was hired December 14. He is an alum (1994-1998) who became an assistant upon graduation from 1999-2005 and was back again in 2014-15. He spent the past 7 seasons in the NFL.

VMI: Scott Wachenheim resigned November 20 after a 1-10 campaign dropped his all-time record to 24-62. The bright spot was the 2020-21 Covid season that saw the Keydets win the Southern Conference in the spring carry-over season. It was their first SoCon title since 1970, and it earned the school its first-ever FCS Playoff bid.

Danny Rocco was announced as the new head coach on December 3. Rocco was a defensive analyst with Penn State in 2022 after compiling a record of 121-65 as a head coach at Delaware, Richmond and Liberty.

Wofford: Josh Conklin was 0-5 when he resigned on October 6. He was 19-28 in 4+ seasons, including FCS playoff appearances in his first two years at the helm in 2018 and 2019.

Shawn Watson was named interim head coach and went 3-3, after which the interim tag was removed on December 1. He had just joined Conklin's staff as the AHC and OC. Watson's only previous HC job was with Southern Illinois from 1994-1996 where he was 11-22.


SoCon upsets of FBS schools have happened more often than you might think as ETSU handled Vanderbilt 23-3 just two years ago, while The Citadel has 8 wins over FBS teams since the NCAA split Division 1 football in 1978. Most recently, the Bulldogs won at Georgia Tech in 2019 and at South Carolina 2015.

SoCon schools will have plenty of opportunities in 2023 to add to their upset win total with 8 games against FBS schools, including 5 vs. the SEC.

September 2

Four SoCon-FBS games will take place on Labor Day weekend Saturday, September 2.

  • Mercer heads from Macon, Georgia to Oxford to face the SEC's Ole Miss Rebels. The only other meeting between these teams took place in Macon in 1911 with the visitors prevailing 34-0
  • The Citadel takes a less than 3-hour ride from Charleston, South Carolina to Statesboro, Georgia to battle the Sun Belt's Georgia Southern Eagles. The schools met regularly as members of the Southern Conference, but that pretty much ended when GSU moved to the FBS in 2014. This will be the first meeting since 2015 when the Eagles won 48-13 in Statesboro
  • Western Carolina leaves Cullowhee, North Carolina for a first-ever meeting with SEC member Arkansas in Fayettevill
  • Wofford treks from Spartanburg, South Carolina to Pittsburgh for a first-time meeting with the ACC's Panthers

September 9

A lone SoCon-FBS game is scheduled for September 9.

  • Furman buses 110 miles east from Greenville, South Carolina to Columbia to challenge South Carolina in an in-state battle. Best as we can tell, the Gamecocks hold a 25-17-1 lead with the Paladins last winning in 1982. The schools have only met twice since then with South Carolina notching wins in 2010 and 2014. The Gamecocks also won in 1979, while all of the other confrontations took place prior to 1960 when it was a traditional home-and-home series. The teams split 20 games at Furman

September 16

There are two SoCon-FBS games on September 16.

  • Samford travels 106 miles to butt heads with Auburn for an in-state tussle. The Tigers are 27-0-1 against the Bulldogs with a 9-9 tie occurring in 1927 at Samford. The teams did not meet at all between 1946 and 1991
  • VMI travels to face the ACC's NC State Wolfpack for the first meeting since 1946. The schools first met on the gridiron in 1904 and the Keydets lead the series 9-5-1

November 18

The toughest challenge is saved for the final weekend of the regular season.

  • Chattanooga visits Alabama for the 14th meeting between the two programs, but the first since 2016. The Mocs have never defeated the Tide. Only once (1931) have the schools met in Chattanooga and Alabama won that contest 49-0

Team-by-Team Schedules
*denotes conference game

9/2 at North Alabama
9/9 Kennesaw State
9/16 The Citadel*
9/23 at Samford*
9/30 at Wofford*
10/7 Western Carolina*
10/14 at Mercer*
10/21 ETSU*
10/28 at VMI*
11/4 Furman*
11/18 at Alabama

9/2 at Jacksonville State
9/9 Carson-Newman (D2)
9/16 at Austin Peay
9/30 at Samford*
10/7 Mercer*
10/14 Wofford*
10/21 at Chattanooga*
10/28 at Furman*
11/4 VMI*
11/11 at Western Carolina*
11/18 The Citadel*

8/31 Tennessee Tech
9/9 at South Carolina
9/16 at Kennesaw State
9/23 Mercer*
10/7 The Citadel*
10/14 at Samford*
10/21 at Western Carolina*
10/28 ETSU*
11/4 at Chattanooga*
11/11 VMI*
11/18 at Wofford*

8/26 North Alabama (Montgomery, Ala.)
9/2 at Ole Miss
9/9 Morehead State
9/23 at Furman*
9/30 VMI*
10/7 at ETSU*
10/14 Chattanooga*
10/21 Wofford*
10/28 at Western Carolina*
11/4 at The Citadel*
11/11 Samford*

8/31 Shorter (D2)
9/9 at Western Carolina*
9/16 at Auburn
9/23 Chattanooga*
9/30 ETSU*
10/7 at Wofford*
10/14 Furman*
10/21 at VMI*
10/28 The Citadel*
11/11 at Mercer*
11/18 UT Martin

9/2 at Georgia Southern
9/9 Campbell
9/16 at Chattanooga*
9/23 at South Carolina State
9/30 Western Carolina*
10/7 at Furman*
10/14 VMI*
10/28 at Samford*
11/4 Mercer*
11/11 Wofford*
11/18 at ETSU*

9/2 Davidson
9/9 at Bucknell
9/16 at North Carolina State
9/23 Wofford*
9/30 at Mercer*
10/14 at The Citadel*
10/21 Samford*
10/28 Chattanooga*
11/4 at ETSU*
11/11 at Furman*
11/18 Western Carolina*

9/2 at Arkansas
9/9 Samford*
9/16 at Eastern Kentucky
9/23 Charleston Southern
9/30 at The Citadel*
10/7 at Chattanooga*
10/21 Furman*
10/28 Mercer*
11/4 at Wofford*
11/11 ETSU*
11/18 at VMI*

9/2 at Pittsburgh
9/9 at William & Mary
9/16 Presbyterian
9/23 at VMI*
9/30 Chattanooga*
10/7 Samford*
10/14 at ETSU*
10/21 at Mercer*
11/4 Western Carolina*
11/11 at The Citadel*
11/18 Furman*