CHARLOTTE, N.C. As Joe Moglia sat back in his chair inside a meeting room at the Renaissance Suites Hotel on Thursday holding court with reporters during the Big South’s annual football media day, Coastal Carolina’s first-year head coach was asked to tell his story -- or at least parts of it -- yet again.
That meant the usual questions about how a man decides to transition from running one of the country’s top online brokerage firms to coaching college football. That meant talk of Wall Street and dropping phrases like “financial Armageddon” seamlessly into discussion.
Yes, it is indeed a new era of Chanticleer football.
Former coach David Bennett’s always-entertaining turn on the Big South media day dais was replaced this year by a more straight-forward address from Moglia, the former CEO and current chairman of TD Ameritrade.
“We’re going to have one mission and we’re going to have one simple principle -- we’re going to put a team on the field that Coastal Carolina is going to be proud of,” he said, reiterating his mantra to the luncheon crowd of media, fellow league coaches and various athletics administrators in his first formal introduction to the rest of the conference.
Most of the questions that followed in the interview session, though, were more about the man than the team he takes over as Coastal Carolina enters the program’s 10th season of football.
After once more telling his unusual tale -- from his youth and early coaching roots to his time in the boardroom to his return to football -- for another inquiring reporter as the room thinned out and the afternoon neared its end, Moglia turned to a familiar face and said with a smile, “I’ve got it down to seven minutes or so.”
He seemed at ease throughout his first media day as a collegiate head coach, and even though his story has been digested and dissected for seven months now since his hiring in late December, he said he understands why he gets more questions about his resume than about his running backs.
But media day is nonetheless about the unveiling of a new football season, and Moglia did find time to discuss that too.
The Chants, picked third in the Big South’s preseason poll behind defending league champion Stony Brook and perennial contender Liberty, open practice next Thursday and Moglia remains concerned about the team’s depth at offensive line, throughout the defense and among the specialists. Senior Akeem Wesley, who caught 19 passes for 223 receiving yards last year, has been moved to safety -- in part because of a broken wrist sustained in the spring but also to bolster a defensive backfield that lost star cornerback Josh Norman and veteran starting safety Marcus Lott. That unit will be one of the Chants’ key questions heading into the season.
Meanwhile, Moglia lauded senior quarterback Aramis Hillary’s comprehension of a new offensive system and was accompanied Thursday by all-conference tight end David Duran, who says he’s close to fully recovered from shoulder surgery as he looks to take advantage of a sixth year of eligibility granted after his 2011 senior season was ended after just four games.
“We have really good depth, I think, in terms of all our offensive skill positions,” he said. “We don’t have much depth, though, any place else on the team, so we’ve got to figure out a way to be creative enough where we can take what we have and emphasize the skills of our current players in a way that might be able to take advantage of something else that somebody else might be doing that’s weak.”
Duran was one of six Chants named preseason all-Big South along with junior receiver Matt Hazel, junior left tackle Jamey Cheatwood, senior linebacker Andrae Jacobs, senior defensive end Chris Thomas and junior punt returner Niccolo Mastromatteo.
“Obviously you never know until the bullets start flying,” Duran said. “But I think we’re healthy and come Wednesday when we start practice, it’s something we’re looking forward to and we’ll be ready to go.”
As for Moglia, he said he still has much to learn about his Big South counterparts and didn’t get much time to mingle with the other coaches Thursday. They, in turn, will have to learn about him. With the season a little more than a month away, the focus will eventually shift from his now-familiar backstory to his team and his talents on the sideline.
“I think it takes a little while to kind of earn that trust, earn that respect,” he admitted.
And that opportunity will come soon enough as the Chants prepare to launch this new era in earnest next week.
“I don’t think there’s a football coach in the country that doesn’t get excited about the beginning of the season, the beginning of camp, etc.,” Moglia said. “You spend so much time doing so many other things, and you do that so you get the opportunity to wind up going out on the field.”
Said Duran: “I think he’s ready to lead this team, and we’re ready to follow him.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.