|Sept. 1||North Carolina A&T||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 8||at Furman||5 p.m.|
|Spet. 15||vs. Eastern Kentucky||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 22||at Toledo||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 29||at Appalachian State||3:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 13||Stony Brook||TBA|
|Oct. 20||at VMI||1:30 p.m.|
|Nov. 3||at Gardner-Webb||1:30 p.m.|
|Nov. 10||at Presbyterian||1 p.m.|
|Nov. 17||Charleston Southern||TBA|
CONWAY The national media that have paid a visit to the Coastal Carolina football complex in the last several months have come for Joe Moglia’s story. The one he told at length in an hour-plus introductory news conference back in December. The one that is the subject of a book set to be released in the near future.
And the one that, to this point at least, has perhaps overshadowed his hiring as the Chanticleers’ new football coach to a degree.
He is the former CEO and present chairman of TD Ameritrade, the man who some have suggested is worth a billion dollars, the guy who plays poker with the likes of Warren Buffett. But that’s never been the whole story of Moglia -- just the part that gets the most attention.
To a bunch of people in Delaware and Pennsylvania and up through the northeast where his football roots began decades ago, he’s always been a coach and his return to the sidelines, well, it only seems natural.
“You know how much he’s worth -- like $600 million. He doesn’t have to do anything,” says Joe Skladany, who played for Moglia at Lafayette College more than 30 years ago. “Why is this guy coaching at Coastal Carolina, putting in the time that he does when he could be lying on a beach getting massages every day? He doesn’t have to be there. [But] his calling in life is to help guys be better men and he’s definitely done that for me.”
The testimonials aren’t hard to find.
Marty Cross, the team captain at Archmere Academy in Claymont, Del., when Moglia arrived at the school in 1971, is on the phone 15 minutes later with his own.
“I just think there’s so much respect for the guy,” Cross says. “I told him in the past I have no more respect for anybody in the world. Nobody taught me anymore in the world than my mother, father and him. Unfortunately, I only played my senior year for him.”
It’s been nearly three decades since Moglia’s career as a college football coach was on its initial ascent with assistant jobs at Lafayette and Dartmouth after making a name for himself in the high school ranks, and while there’s surely some doubt about what Coastal Carolina has done in bringing the former executive from the boardroom to the locker room, those who know him best don’t share that sentiment.
Nor does Moglia, of course. As his first game with the Chants nears, he says he has no regrets or second guesses, and while his backstory may be unique, he feels he’s right where he belongs.
“There were a lot of other things I could have done in the financial world, the media world, but ... I really wanted to come back to coaching,” he reiterates. “It was the thing I think I’ve done best in my life. It was the thing I think I was best at. It’s the thing that gives me the best satisfaction. The fact that nobody had ever done it [like this] before wasn’t enough to stop me.”
There’s not much that hasn’t been said, written or debated since Moglia was selected in December as Coastal’s surprising replacement for longtime coach David Bennett, so CCU assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Gallagher was asked recently what’s left to tell of Moglia’s story at this point.
He suggested talking to some of Moglia’s former high school and college players from the 1970s-80s who have gone on to become successful coaches themselves. Gallagher says he runs into a few of them on the recruiting trail now and then, and they still talk about Moglia all these years later.
So first up is Mike Drass, who played for Moglia at Penncrest High School in Media, Penn., and is now the head coach at Division III Wesley College where he has won 167 games in 19 years. He’s busy getting ready for his own season, but he says he has 10 free minutes and is eager to talk about his old coach.
“When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a football player. I always envisioned myself playing football,” he says. “I remember being through camp my first year playing high school football with coach Moglia, everything changed for me. I knew I was going to play football, but I knew when I was done playing I was going to be a coach. He was the type of person that instilled in you that desire to be a positive part of someone else’s life. That’s something that’s has been with me ever since.”
Skladany, a standout at Lafayette College when Moglia was the defensive backs and special teams coach there from 1978-80, is next up on the phone.
“He showed me things that I’m still using today, and I’ve been coaching football for about 20 years,” says Skladany, now a high school defensive coordinator in Florida.
Like most everybody else, Skladany talks of Moglia’s attention to detail and recalls a story of one of the team’s bigger wins in his time there.
“We’re playing Penn. It was 9-7 and it was late in the game, and they were lined up with about two minutes left and were going to kick a 35-yard field goal,” he says. “We call timeout, and [Moglia] says ‘Hey, Skladany, remember that 38. [He] doesn’t step down as hard as he should so you should be primed to block that field goal.’ And as a result, I was able to block the field goal that would have put them up 10-9 and let them win the game. Just amazing attention to detail. I take that into my coaching now.”
Cross, Moglia’s former player from Archmere Academy back in 1971, is the next call. He’s in his 37th year of coaching, now as the defensive coordinator at Sussex Tech in Georgetown, Del., and he says Moglia’s influence is still apparent in the Delaware high school football ranks.
“He’s such a dynamic guy,” Cross says. “The reason he’s successful in anything he does is he’s so dynamic, such a motivational guy. Myself and several other people are in the coaching profession now because of him.”
And, he says, that influence goes beyond the people he’s coached, noting that Moglia wrote a book about the “perimeter attack offense” he introduced back in the day when Delaware high school teams predominantly ran the Wing-T.
“The funny thing is we’re installing his offense at our high school this year for the first time,” Cross says. “I have really nothing to do with the offensive coordinator’s job like that, and we’re installing that offense -- obviously with a few twists of our own. That’s just the kind of impact he’s had on this state.”
Those three and others from up north are among the many keeping tabs on how this whole situation unfolds at Coastal Carolina. Because for whatever doubters may exist within the fan base or beyond about Moglia’s prospects of elevating the Chanticleer football program, there’s a core of ardent believers as well.
“Whether he’s 30 or 60, he’s got a lot to give,” Drass says. “He might be the greatest motivator in the world, but the man’s a great football coach too.”
Added Cross: “I’m convinced, given time and an opportunity down there, they’re going to be successful.”
It’s eight months into his tenure as head coach of the Chants and Moglia has just wrapped up the last practice of fall camp and has fixed himself a plate of food as the team gathers for dinner in the third-floor meeting room at Adkins Field House.
He’s asked again about everything that’s transpired since that December afternoon when he was formally introduced at Coastal and about the tendency of people to focus on his financial and business background rather than his coaching background. He adds that beyond his early football career, nobody seems to give him any credit for spending two years as an unpaid “executive advisor” with the Nebraska program and a year as head coach of the United Football League’s Omaha Nighthawks while crafting his return to the sidelines.
“I understand that a lot of people are going to look at things from their own personal perspective,” he says. “But if you really want to be able to make some good decisions on people, on strategies, on investments, whatever it might be, especially when it comes to people, you need to look at the skill sets that are required to be successful in a particular job and then you evaluate whether or not that person has those particular skill sets.
“I think in my case, if you really take some time and you outline the skill sets that are required for a college coach and you really do you’re homework, you not only say I have all those skill sets, you’d say I have a competitive advantage in all those skill sets.”
He talks of the ability to understand people, to maximize the potential of others, to put together an organization or team, create a well thought-out strategy and operate under stress.
And so far, Moglia says, nothing has surprised him in his first go-round as a collegiate head coach.
He says he didn’t expect to inherit so many guys that had “so many academic challenges ... but it is what it is.” As for the on-the-field stuff, he makes the reminder again that his return to football has not been as sudden as some people make it out to be. This has been several years in the making.
“I think I was being perceived in 2009 as the business guy that just wanted to come back to coaching,” he says. “By halfway through that [first season at Nebraska] ... something just happened. And I kind of transitioned from this business guy who wants to coach to a guy who really was a coach and was working his way back.”
Now he’s here, and nearly 30 years after putting his football career on hold, those that know him well say that he hasn’t changed much at all.
“Joe has been the same all through his career since I’ve known him,” says George Glenn, Coastal’s new director of football operations and another product of the Delaware high school coaching ranks. “He’s always been that type of guy that’s very organized, knows what he wants to do and he’s an amazing teacher. He motivates you to want to do the very best job you can for the cause.”
As for Moglia’s story, there’s still plenty to be written in his ever-unique narrative of a football career, and after an eventful offseason for the Chants and plenty of talk about the man tasked with leading the program into a new era, the pursuit of that cause begins in earnest Sept. 1.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.