Playtime is over.
New Coastal Carolina University head football coach Joe Moglia’s honeymoon officially ends 3:30 p.m. Saturday in a place called Boone, N.C., when the Chanticleers line up against one of the storied programs at this level of college football.
Appalachian State might not be quite what it used to be, when it could be counted on to either win national championships or vie for them just about every year, but it is still App State, the formerly Div. I-AA program that knocked off the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor and beat Coastal during its first-ever playoff game.
The season has shown promise up to this point. The win against North Carolina A&T to open up the Moglia era was nice, but expected.
The win against Furman was even better.
Even Coastal’s two losses were respectable, against a ranked Eastern Kentucky team and a solid performance against upper-level Toledo.
But Saturday begins a stretch that will determine if Moglia’s first season will be deemed more successful than former head coach David Bennett’s last.
In order to take Coastal to new heights – or to even match some of what Bennett was able to accomplish, which was a lot – the Chanticleer team has to show it can compete with the likes of Appalachian State.
And that’s only a warm-up act for a more important game two weeks later in Conway against conference foe Stony Brook and a showdown in late October against fellow conference powerhouse Liberty. Those are the teams that seemed to separate themselves from Coastal last year.
The painful losses to Liberty and Stony Brook were among the primary reasons Bennett’s tenure ended.
There was talk about a lack of student engagement and other factors as well.
But on the field, Stony Brook beat Coastal by 6 touchdowns and a No. 20 ranked Chanticleers squad allowed Liberty to score an eye-popping 63 points.
Moglia’s background is a nice talking point. As chairman of TD Ameritrade, he’s worked in national interviews on financial TV networks while preparing for football practice and games.
And his estimated net worth – he earned a reported average of $14 million a year at TD Ameritrade – was as eye-popping in this area, which has maybe the lowest annual average wage in the nation, as Liberty’s ability to destroy Coastal’s defense last year.
Speculation and rumors about just how this guy not many football fans had ever heard of got such a good gig spread quickly.
Much of that has been put on the backburner since Coastal opened up with 2 victories.
If Coastal this season resembles what it looked like against Liberty and Stony Brook last year, expect those rumors to start flying again.
Moglia’s job isn’t an easy one. He’s trying to win over fans who were – and are – loyal to Bennett while putting his unique stamp on the program.
Putting on a good performance in Boone Saturday and following it up with wins against the best the Big South offers will go a long way in forever putting those rumors to rest.
Contact ISSAC J. BAILEY at 626-0357, email@example.com or via Twitter.com at @TSN_IssacBailey or ijbailey.