Monmouth University’s head football coach Kevin Callahan has announced the team’s 2014 schedule, the Hawks’ first season as a member of the Big South Conference.

Monmouth will open at home for the first time since the 2011 season when it hosts Delaware State in a first-time matchup between the two teams. The Hawks will also host games against long-time foe Wagner, Columbia and Big South opponents Charleston Southern and Gardner Webb. In all, MU will play four games against first-time opponents, three of which come via the Big South.

“Our schedule is both a challenging and exciting one,” said Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “We are thrilled to be joining the Big South Conference and look forward to a competitve non-conference schedule as well.  We have an exciting home schedule lined up, including a member of the Ivy League for the second consecutive year coming to Monmouth Stadium.”

The Hawks open the season at home for just the fifth time in school history when Delaware State comes to Monmouth Stadium on August 30th. The game will be the first meeting between MU and DSU, who completed a 5-3 league record last season in the Mid-American Conference. Monmouth owns a 1-1 record all-time against opponents from the MEAC, splitting a pair of games with Morgan State, most recently winning a 26-9 game against the Bears at home in 2006.

Monmouth has the first of two open dates on September 6th, but Callahan has not ruled out the possibility of adding a 12th game there. The Hawks welcome long-time rival Wagner College on September 13th in a matchup between teams that have played every year since 1993, the first year of Monmouth football. MU has won two straight against the Seahawks, taking a 11-10 margin in the all-time series.

Monmouth heads to the road on Sept. 20 with a trip to Pittsburgh to face former NEC rival Duquesne. The Hawks will then travel across the state and into Bethlehem for the fourth time to take on Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks, 8-3 last season, hold a 5-0 record against Monmouth but the last two matchups have come down to the wire. Last season MU appeared to have momentum against the perennial Patriot League power when it blocked a Lehigh kick near the endzone but the Mountain Hawks recovered the ball and ran it out to midfield to escape disaster. The three game road swing continues for Monmouth as they face former NEC rival Robert Morris in Moon Township, Pa. on October 4th. The Duquesne and Robert Morris games will fulfill the obligation of a home-and-home series that began in West Long Branch last season.

Monmouth wraps up its non-conference schedule with a Oct. 11th tilt when it hosts an Ivy League opponent at Monmouth Stadium for the second straight season in the Columbia Lions. Last season the Monmouth defense was dominant in a 37-14 victory over the Lions in the two teams’ first meeting.

A well-timed bye week comes on October 18th, right before the Hawks begin the Big South portion of the schedule. MU football history will be made on October 25 as Monmouth heads to Clinton, S.C. to face Presbyterian College in its first Big South Conference game. The Blue Hose finished with a 3-8 record and in fifth place in league in 2013. It will be the first meeting between the two teams.

The following weekend Monmouth will host its first Big South Conference game when Charleston Southern visits West Long Branch on November 1st. The Buccaneers, led by Big South Coach of the Year Jamey Chadwell, set a program record for wins with a 10-3 record in his first season. Charleston Southern climbed to as high as 12th in the nation as the Bucs started the season 10-1 with their lone loss to FBS opponent Colorado.

The tough stretch continues for the Hawks as they face two familiar opponents in 2013 Big South Co-Champions Liberty and Coastal Carolina in back to back weeks on November 8th and 15th, respectively. In week two of last season, MU traveled to Lynchburg and fell to a Flames team that would eventually finish the season 8-4 and claim a share of its sixth Big South title. Monmouth has played Coastal Carolina twice before, in the 2008 and 2009 seasons. In 2008 Coastal led from the opening whistle in West Long Branch but it was the Hawks who took an early lead on the Chants in Conway the following year.

Coastal would score 17 unanswered but the Hawks would eventually close the gap to one score, falling 24-17. Last season the Chanticleers finished in the consensus top-10, coming in at a program record 7th in the country in the two polls under second year coach Joe Moglia. Coastal finished 12-3, winning the first two rounds of the NCAA playoffs against No. 16 Bethune Cookman and No. 8 Montana before falling to eventual National Champion North Dakota State in the quarterfinals.

The 2014 regular season wraps up against Big South opponent Gardner Webb at home on November 22. Gardner Webb would post it’s highest win total since 2009 after finishing with a 7-5 record, including starting the season 4-1 and earning national rankings for the first time since 2002. It will be the first time the Hawks and Runnin’ Bulldogs meet on the gridiron.

All times are yet to be announced and dates are subject to change due to television scheduling. The Big South Conference recently reached a seven year deal with the ESPN family of networks to broadcast select games. Streaming video will be available on the Big South Network for free and on Hawkvision.

Monmouth, an independant in 2013, finished 6-6 last year in the first season the Hawks played a 12 game regular schedule.

WOBM AM 1160 and 1310 and the ShoreSportsNetwork air Monmouth Hawks games as well as the Kevin Callahan Coaches Show during the season.

2014 Monmouth Football Schedule

Date Opponent (Conference) Place 2013 Record Series Record
8/30 Delaware State (MEAC) West Long Branch, N.J. 5-6 First Meeting
9/13 Wagner (NEC) West Long Branch, N.J. 3-8 11-10, Monmouth
9/20 Duquesne (NEC) Pittsburgh, Pa. 7-4 5-3, Monmouth
9/27 Lehigh (Patriot) Bethlehem, Pa. 8-3 5-0, Lehigh
10/4 Robert Morris (NEC) Moon Township, Pa. 5-6 10-9, Robert Morris
10/11 Columbia (Ivy) West Long Branch, N.J. 0-10 1-0, Monmouth
10/25 Presbyterian* Clinton, S.C. 3-8 First Meeting
11/1 Charleston Southern* West Long Branch, N.J. 10-3 First Meeting
11/8 Liberty* Lynchburg, Va. 8-4 1-0, Liberty
11/15 Coastal Carolina* Conway, S.C. 12-3 2-0, Coastal Carolina
11/22 Gardner-Webb* West Long Branch, N.J. 7-5 First Meeting

Mike McLafferty is on the Monmouth University athletics staff.