CONWAY — When Joe Moglia talks about his first game as Coastal Carolina’s head football coach, he offers the reminder that this is really nothing new to him. He mentions serving as a head coach for the Eastham Energy College All-Star Game in 2011 and of spending last season leading the United Football League’s Omaha Nighthawks.
But, yes, he allows, it will probably be a little different Saturday night as the Chanticleers kick off a new era at Brooks Stadium against visiting North Carolina A&T.
“This one will be probably more emotional than that,” he said Wednesday at his weekly news conference. “… The first time at Coastal Carolina, the first time in our home stadium, I’m emotional right now.”
Moglia, the former CEO and present chairman of TD Ameritrade, will be on the sideline Saturday night as a collegiate head coach for the first time after serving as an assistant at Lafayette and Dartmouth in the late 1970s and early 1980s and beginning his return to football as an unpaid “executive advisor” at Nebraska from 2009-10.
As for the Chants, it will be the program’s first game with a coach other than David Bennett, who led the team through its first nine seasons.
“Coach Moglia has brought a whole new vibe in and everybody’s excited,” said senior Aramis Hillary, who returns as the team’s starting quarterback after helping Coastal to a 7-4 mark last year. “The fans are excited, the community is excited and we’re definitely excited to see on Saturday night how this thing goes and what kind of a turnout we’re going to get.”
The curiosity abound likely matches that excitement. In addition to the coaching change, the Chants usher in new offensive and defensive systems.
And their first chance to showcase their new look comes against a North Carolina A&T squad they defeated 31-14 on the road last fall. The Aggies, who finished the 2011 season 5-6, have a full allotment of scholarships for the first time in several years but are still facing NCAA penalties with a postseason ban and practice limitations due to their struggles with the annual Academic Progress Rate.
That’s not what’s caught the eye of the Coastal coaches, though.
“When you take a look at them on tape, you’d never know that they were a program that was down,” CCU offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. “I think athletically, they are very good. … I think it’s a great challenge for us in the opener.”
The Aggies finished ninth among all FCS teams in total defense last season, holding opponents to 289.18 yards per game, and return 10 defensive starters. Offensively, they are led by senior running back Mike Mayhew – who rushed for 1,120 yards last year and is 139 yards away from the program’s career record – and junior quarterback Lewis Kindle, who also returns as an experienced starter.
“There’s so much that can happen frankly over the span of a 12-month period,” Moglia said. “We [played them early] a year ago. A lot happened to our team over the span of the season; a lot happened to their team over the span of the season. I think [if] you go back and expect something to happen based on what took place a year ago or like 10 or 11 games ago, that’s probably a mistake.”
The slate is indeed wiped clean this time around, especially for the Chants as they launch this new era.
“To be able to lead our team out of the tunnel for the first time, I recognize the significance of the responsibility that’s on my shoulders as far as Coastal Carolina goes,” Moglia said. “This is an honor for me, and I recognize the tradition that we have here. We are expected to do well. We are expected to win. And we’re going to do everything we possibly can to do that.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.