CONWAY — Joe Moglia’s first season as Coastal Carolina’s head football coach has been ever eventful and interesting, from his surprise introduction as an out-of-the-box replacement to longtime coach David Bennett to the steady wave of national media attention he and the program have received since the Chanticleers’ late-season surge into the NCAA FCS playoffs.
Most of the national interest that has come this season has focused on Moglia’s unique background as a successful former CEO and present chairman of TD Ameritrade, but on Monday, the recognition had solely to do with his work on the field this season.
Two days after the Chants earned their fifth-straight win to claim a share of the Big South Conference championship and that FCS playoff berth, The Sports Network announced Moglia as one of 20 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award given annually to the top head coach at the FCS level.
“I’m really incredibly flattered,” Moglia said. “We said in the beginning of the year that our mission was to put a team on the field that all of Coastal would be proud of. I think our players and coaches have worked very, very hard to do that. And the fact that we won our conference and we’re going to the national playoffs is a tribute to them and that effort. And the fact that I’m nominated for that award is a tribute also to our coaches and players.”
The Chants’ 7-4 record matches their finish last season and matches the program’s best regular-season mark in the last six years. The share of the conference championship is the fifth in program history and the playoff berth – as Coastal travels to play No. 22-ranked Bethune-Cookman (9-2) on Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla. – is the program’s third ever.
“My expectation, I won’t quantify as far as wins and losses, but I’ll quantify as seeing us improve with each game,” CCU athletic director Hunter Yurachek said of his hopes for Moglia’s first year. “So my expectations have been met if not exceeded.”
Each of the Chants’ five straight wins to close the regular season came by 21 points or more and their four losses came to three ranked FCS teams and a FBS foe in Toledo.
A panel of about 160 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the Robinson Award winner, which will be announced on Dec. 17 at the FCS Awards Banquet in Philadelphia. Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore and Bethune-Cookman coach Brian Jenkins were also named finalists.
Backus honored – again
Sophomore linebacker Quinn Backus is only in his first year as a starter, but when this season ends he’ll already have a resume full of highlights, awards and accolades.
Backus was honored yet again by the Big South on Monday as the conference’s defensive player of the week for the fifth time this fall. No player in league history has ever won the offensive or defensive player of the week award as many times, and Backus could add an even loftier honor Tuesday when the conference announces its offensive and defensive players of the year.
“I think as one of the conference champions, certainly we don’t do that without a decent effort on the part of our defense,” Moglia said. “Our defense has been a little inconsistent over the span of the year, but certainly Quinn wasn’t. He began strong, he stayed strong, he finished strong. There’s a good chance without Quinn Backus we don’t win [a share of the Big South] championship.”
Backus had a career-high 16 total tackles Saturday in the Chants’ 41-20 win over Charleston Southern in the regular-season finale. With 123 tackles in 11 games, he’s already broken the program record for most tackles in a season – a mark previously set at 116 by Jamar Leath over 12 games in 2006.
He leads the Big South in total tackles and ranks second in tackles per game at 11.2.
Fans interested in attending the playoff game in Daytona Beach, Fla., can order tickets through the CCU ticket office at 843-347-8499 before noon Wednesday, at which point all ticket sales will have to go through Bethune-Cookman (386-481-2465) or online at www.TicketMaster.com. The Chants received an initial allotment of 500 tickets, but there is the potential to acquire more if the demand exists.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for CCU students and youth 12 and under.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.