By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State may be preparing for a football visit from Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game at Kidd Brewer Stadium, but it was the news of a visit by five-time national champion Miami (Fla.) next September that dominated conversation Tuesday at the Mountaineers’ practice.
“The U is coming to the Rock,” App State coach Scott Satterfield said.That’s pretty awesome and exciting for our program and our fans. It’ll be a cool deal.”
In a deal that had been more than rumored for several weeks, Appalachian and Miami finalized details of a contract Tuesday that will bring the Hurricanes to Boone for a Sept. 17, 2016 game. The Mountaineers will make a return trip to Miami on Sept. 11, 2021.
“Nine months from today is going to be the biggest event that has ever happened in Boone,” Appalachian athletic director Doug Gillen said. “We set down a few months ago and asked the question ‘What’s our philosophy on scheduling.’ We decided we needed to find the best possible teams to come to Boone.”
It will mark the first time an ACC opponent has traveled to Boone for a football game. Previously, the Mountaineers had announced that Wake Forest would play at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017.
The three-time Football Championship Subdivision national titlist (2005-07), ASU made the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision by joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014 and is bowl eligible for the first time.
“If you can name a team, we probably talked to them,” Gillen said. “Some were interested in playing in Boone, some aren’t and Miami had an opening. It’s a great opportunity for us and it just worked out.”
To make room for the Hurricanes on the 2016 schedule, the Mountaineers have agreed with North Carolina Central to a later season. ASU is also helped the Eagles find a replacement opponent for 2016.
Ironically, Massachusetts — Appalachian’s opponent in the 2006 NCAA Division I national championship game — was originally schedule to play the Mountaineers on the Sept. 17, 2016 date, but cancelled and bought out the contest for $325,000, so the Minutemen could play at South Carolina.
The Mountaineers open the 2016 season at Tennessee, playing in Neyland Stadium, the second largest sports facility in America behind the University of Michigan’s Michigan Stadium, where ASU has played twice, in 2007 and 2014.
Appalachian will entertain Old Dominion in its home opener before hosting Miami.
“It will be a real challenging start to the season,” Satterfield said. “You never would have thought that you’d be able to get a team like Miami, with all the history they have, and national championships and all the talented teams they’ve had.”
Appalachian will be looking to break the single-game, football attendance record of 31,528, which was set in 2010 for a Southern Conference game with Elon.
Gillen said that it will be important to seize the moment with the Miami game.
“We want to put our best foot forward,” said Gillen. “We want to attract other programs to come up here.”
One of the players excited about the news was Appalachian junior running back Marcus Cox.
“It’s a pretty neat experience, to have a home-and-home with them, just to have a big school come up here and to go down there,” Cox said. “I feel like it’s big exposure for our team and our program.”
While he won’t be able to participate in Miami’s trip to Boone, ASU senior defensive end Ronald Blair was just as ecstatic as Cox.
“It is a big step for the program,” Blair said. “As a senior you feel like you have had something to do with us getting to this point and we’ll be celebrating with the team when they play Miami.”