For the UNCC 49ers, 2013 was a historic year. The time had finally arrived for the inaugural season of the university’s football program. Nobody knew what was to be expected of this team, and when August 31st came around, the date of the 49ers’ first ever game, the community was filled with anticipation. When all was said and done, UNCC defeated Campbell in the first game in program history. The success was carried on throughout the season, as Charlotte finished with a record just below .500, sitting happily at 5-6. The inaugural season saw a difficult schedule, with matchups against 5 top 25 teams, including Coastal Carolina, an annual powerhouse in the FCS. However, for a first year program aiming to assert themselves as competitors, 2013 was considered a remarkable success.
That was year one. The question we are asking here is, how will the 49ers fare in their jump to FBS football? As of now, that is not an easy answer to question. UNCC will be joining Conference USA next year, taking on teams such as Louisiana Tech and Marshall on a yearly basis. While it is an exciting movement for the 49ers, it is also a very rapid transition. In only two years, a team that has been mediocre, although surprisingly good for their first two years as a program, can only be expected to do so much against more formidable opponents. UNCC has yet to venture outside of the realm of FCS opponents, so they will have no experience against any FBS teams until they start the 2015 season. The challenges will certainly be stacked in UNCC’s way, as they lack experience and simply don’t have the talent level of upper level teams. On the other hand, there is no denying that with the move to a larger, more prominent division and conference, the program will improve as they will have better chances in recruiting, but also greater funding into the program. This funding will increase quality of facilities, and eventually the quality of the football program. So, to answer the question on how the football program will handle the transition, it will surely be interesting. At first, don’t expect too much from this young team, as the hurdles of a quick transition will be hard to overcome. Despite most likely seeing a rough start to new competition, however, the move to FBS life will allow opportunity for growth and success in the future.