It might be a bit early for Joe Moglia to gloat, but he’s probably finding it harder to hide a wry smile these days.
The man who replaced the beloved David Bennett, who had been the only head coach in the history of the Coastal Carolina University football program, was greeted with more shock (and some disgust) than excitement when his hiring was announced.
Moglia had never held a head coaching position at a level as high as Coastal’s.
He had been out of football for several years as a fancy-smancy New York Wall Streeter who made millions of dollars with investment firms.
Bennett was born with a whistle in his mouth and a pair of too-tight, too-short coach’s shorts over his diapers.
Moglia was blue blood, Bennett a down home country boy who was such a natural coach he could beat your players with his, and his with yours.
Bennett was a humanitarian coaching up his young men in the game of life as much as the game of football.
Moglia? Maybe his personal wealth bought him a job his credentials didn’t warrant, the loud whispers rang out. (I heard directly from a coach within the Big South Conference who suggested just that.)
But by about 7 p.m. Saturday, it could be Moglia with the last laugh. His team, with a victory, will claim a share of the Big South title. And if Liberty wins, Coastal will receive the third playoff berth in its history.
Moglia would then have a chance to make his first season truly special by leading the team to its first playoff victory.
The bet taken by Coastal President David DeCenzo and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek – that a head-coaching novice better known to CNBC than ESPN was the right guy for the job – would suddenly seem a lot less like a risk than bold leadership.
Not a bad year for a guy who turned in wing tips for cleats.
Bennett has landed in a good position as well, heading up the Socastee High School athletic department. Whether by coincidence or in part because of his football pedigree, in Bennett’s first year, but not as a coach, Socastee’s football team is enjoying its best season ever, having gone undefeated and is one victory from hosting the Lower State finals.
That’s heady stuff.
But as they say in sports, don’t count your chickens before they start scratching up your backyard (or something like that), neither man should feel overly confident going into this weekend.
Socastee’s opponent is a monster who can match Socastee’s running attack and has been playing inspired ball since one of its players died during the season.
Coastal’s opponent is Charleston Southern, a team it is heavily favored against – but a team that improbably stood in the way of Coastal’s first attempt at the playoffs years ago.
Coastal led late in that game in North Charleston until one of the flukiest plays in football history unfolded. Coastal lost in overtime and was denied the at-large bid it was likely to claim.
Socastee and Coastal have had success seasons so far.
Each can get a step closer to turning them into extraordinary ones this weekend.
But as the old saying goes, it ain’t over until the skinny woman does the final downward dog, or you something like that.
You get the point.
Contact ISSAC J. BAILEY at 626-0357, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.com at @TSN_IssacBailey.