CONWAY Early Thursday, before the meetings and practice and final thoughts on this weekend’ Homecoming came with Liberty, Coastal Carolina University football coach Joe Moglia was standing in front of a green screen on a live satellite feed from inside WMBF’s studios so he could be interviewed on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” morning program.
“Our next guest overcame numerous challenges to find fortune in two careers,” co-anchor Becky Quick said to open the segment. “Joe Moglia is the chairman of TD Ameritrade. He’s also the head football coach at Coastal Carolina University.”
Just another day for the Chanticleers’ nationally-relevant head coach, who has caught the interest of media outlets across the country – from USA Today to ESPN to Esquire.com – during his first season running a college football program.
This segment was set up through the publisher of Monte Burke’s “4th & Goal” book about Moglia’s life and dual careers, but before long he was talking about the “fiscal cliff,” the impact of the upcoming election on the economy and the job market before getting a plug in at the end about the Chants’ game with Liberty on Saturday.
It was actually the third time since being hired last December by Coastal that Moglia had appeared on the “Squawk Box” to discuss such matters, but normally the focus of media outlets is on the coach himself and his unusual back-story. And it’s been steady.
Last month, as Coastal prepared to face a nationally-ranked Appalachian State team, a camera crew from ESPN followed the program – and its coach – through a week for a segment that is expected to air on the network’s popular College GameDay program one upcoming Saturday.
“That’s the premier college football show,” CCU athletics director Hunter Yurachek said. “I remember when I was at the University of Virginia, that was always our goal to get to a point with our program where College GameDay was going to come on your campus. Now, they’re not coming on our campus per se, but they’re doing a segment that’s going to be featured. It’s in the morning, but that’s a primetime college football program that I think everybody across the nation who is a college football fan tunes into every Saturday morning.”
That would be just the latest national splash for the 10th-year football program and its new coach. ESPN’s Grantland.com, FoxSports.com, the Associated Press, Yahoo! Sports, Forbes, the aforementioned USA Today and Esquire.com have all published stories on Moglia, and the CNBC/NBC Sports Network’s “Sports Biz” and Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” programs have also featured him.
“That is another piece of the puzzle that’s allowing us to have an identity nationally,” Yurachek said. “That’s something that at this level you fight – what’s your identity as an FCS program? We’ve got baseball, we’ve got soccer, we’ve got men’s golf [which have all been nationally ranked]. Our football program and what Joe Moglia being our head coach has meant to that – not only on-field success but the media across the country and even internationally that this institution’s garnered – ... I think it obviously helps our football program and recruiting. I think that bleeds into our other sports, and I think that bleeds into our university as a whole.”
Yurachek said he’s happy to give the interview about Moglia as many times as he’s asked, and for that matter, so too is Moglia.
He’s been used to this for a few years now, since he stepped down as TD Ameritrade’s CEO in 2008 and took a volunteer position inside the Nebraska football program for two seasons. Sports Illustrated and other prominent national outlets jumped on the story then ... and it’s just continued to attract attention.
“It never gets old,” Moglia said. “I’m always honored and flattered that anybody would take the time to do that, No. 1. No. 2, I think it’s an incredible exposure for Coastal Carolina and hopefully recruits that kind of watch that recognize that there really is a serious, genuine commitment on the part of the university and on the part of football that we really want to help you later on in life, etc., and hopefully we’re going to give you a great football experience as well. So all those things are very, very positive.
“What happens, though, it’s a little bit of a disruption. You’ve got somebody there, got somebody following you around, but we’re really pretty focused and it doesn’t take away from our task at hand. And it’s not a distraction even. ... But I would rather have that than not have it because of the exposure that the university gets.”
That said, Moglia says he doesn’t read any of it, but he does hear from friends and acquaintances about what’s written. He said the feedback from the USA Today piece generated even more interest from other media outlets wanting to talk to him about his story. In regard to the College GameDay segment, which does not have a set air date yet, he says he won’t watch that either – not anytime soon, at least.
“I’ll watch it one day,” he said. “One day, I’ll go back and do all that stuff, but not so much now.”
The camera crew followed the Chants that week in late September from the start of business Wednesday morning, miking Moglia up as he arrived at Adkins Field House, through the next day before meeting the team again at its hotel Saturday morning and filming throughout the game that day at Appalachian State.
“Really, the first day you were like, ‘Who are these people?’” senior linebacker Andrae Jacobs said. “But they didn’t really make us uncomfortable to the point that we were watching what we’re doing, watching what we’re saying. They kind of kept their distance. It was an easy adjustment.”
Junior offensive lineman Jamey Cheatwood said much of the same.
“He told us prior to everybody coming in, and our main focus is on the football team and he’s made sure it was that way,” Cheatwood said. “So I think the team’s handling it pretty well, and it’s not getting in the way of anything. It [was] more of a privilege to have them guys here and we’re glad to have them, but as far as getting in the way – not at all.”
Of course, that ended up not being the best showcase for the Chants as they lost 55-14 to the Mountaineers in their worst defeat of the season, but as Moglia said, he can’t worry about any of that now. The team is 3-4 following a dominant 34-7 win Saturday at VMI and after facing a daunting first half of the schedule in which it played three ranked FCS teams and an FBS opponent, Coastal should have a chance to win each of its final four games if it plays as it did last week.
In terms of the national media interest, the attention has leveled off for at least for the time being, but as Moglia said, the approach has been the same every week – regardless of what cameras or reporters have been on campus.
“For us, it’s business as usual,” he said. “In the beginning, I told the kids this is going to happen. Again, while I think that’s wonderful, I think it’s positive, I said, ‘It’s good for you guys, it’s good for the university, it’s good for football, [but] again, accept responsibility for yourself. Don’t be distracted. Recognize that you’re starting to get attention, recognize that you’re going to get more attention, and the best way that we can really get a lot of attention is to start to win at a national level.’”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.