True to form, Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia’s press conference at Sun Belt Conference Media Days on Monday was quite a bit different than those of the league’s other nine head coaches.
While the other coaches were talking almost exclusively about football, coaching staffs, depth charts and key players, Moglia’s 15 or so minutes included talk of his father’s fruit store in the Bronx, NASA, ISIS, North Korea’s nuclear program, the U.S. military and the 2016 presidential election.
It’s clear to the rest of the league the Chanticleers have their head coach back.
Moglia, who doubles as the chairman of the board of TD Ameritrade, took a medical sabbatical last year to deal with a medical issue that involved a bacterial infection that caused inflammation in his lungs. He returned full time to his head coaching position on Jan. 5.
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“Everybody acts like football is like life. Football is not like life, football is a game,” Moglia said Monday at a podium in front of the assembled media at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. “It’s an important game, and if we don’t win I’m going to get fired, but it’s a game. At the end of the day there are so many things going on in the world . . . that I would want my children to know, I want my players to know. If I feel so strongly like that, why wouldn’t I spend real time making sure our guys know that.
“. . . Especially with my background I believe it’s our job to make sure our guys understand that.”
Moglia spoke Monday of the program’s Be A Man (BAM) philosophy, the 30 minutes of practice he gives up each week for Life After Football discussions, and how he believes his 2016 team is the first in the history of college football that voted in its entirety in a presidential election. The team was bused to the voting polls.
“These are the types of things that we do that are unique and have a positive impact on our guys when they’re here, but that’s also the principles that would separate us from others with regards to recruiting,” Moglia said.
Moglia also boasted that nine former CCU players played professional football last year, and 41 players on the 2017 team were working on graduate degrees.
“There’s not a program in the nation that can say anything that comes close to that,” Moglia said. “So if you’re good enough to get to the league we’ll get you to the league. But it’s still about laying a foundation upon which you’re going to live your life later. Now what do we do as coaches that reinforce that, other than say that?”
Moglia detailed how he hoped to put his stamp back on the program, primarily with the elimination of mistakes. He pointed to the team’s special teams units contributing to three losses, taking a lot more penalties than in previous seasons, and missing ‘a gazillion’ tackles on defense.
“We’ve always taken tremendous pride, and it’s kind of part of our brand, we don’t make a lot of mistakes. We normally don’t go hurt ourselves,” Moglia said. “It’s focusing on why you’re making a mistake.”
That’s where NASA came up.
“The NASA space program has to go through one million, three hundred fifty thousand steps and they have to get every one right, they have to be perfect to get a rocket launched with somebody in it so it doesn’t blow up,” Moglia said. “Every coach in the country says when you lose a game, the biggest reason for losing games is you make mistakes. We’ve got 11 guys who have to get it right for 5 or 6 seconds. Learning how to fix mistakes is not unique to football.”
With Moglia’s return, associate head coach and offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell is back to focusing entirely on the offense after being the interim head coach last year, and former North Carolina defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders has replaced the retired Mickey Matthews as defensive coordinator.
Sanders was the defensive coordinator at North Carolina from (2004-06) and has a total of 23 years of collegiate coaching experience.
“I have the right guys as coaches and I have total confidence that they’re going to do the right thing, or work as hard as they can to make the best decisions they can,” Moglia said. “Marvin understands how to handle problems, he knows it’s not about teaching; it’s about learning. And he’s a great role model I think to the staff and a great role model for our players.”
Moglia said the coaching staff doesn’t have any stated goals. “What we can control is whether or not we’re able to maximize our potential,” he said. “We are obsessed and fanatical about that and the elimination of mistakes. If we do that I would expect us to do relatively well during the span of the season.”
The team is excited to have Moglia back this season. “I think with him coming back it’s definitely the spark the team needed,” senior quarterback Kilton Anderson said. “They trust him, they believe in everything that he says. I think it definitely changes the whole charisma of the team.”
In the few minutes Moglia spoke about football, he acknowledged the disadvantage the Chants will have this year, as they are still a season away from fully completing their transition from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in terms of available scholarships. He said the Chants have 70 to offer this year while its FBS opponents will have a full allotment of 85.
“The biggest competitive disadvantage we’re going to have this year is we’re only going to have 70 scholarships, so everybody we play has 15 more scholarships than we do and that’s going to have a significant impact on our depth and special teams,” Moglia said. “We have to be able to handle that as coaches.”
For the first time in conference history the Sun Belt has been split into two divisions and will have a championship game on Dec. 1.
The Chants have been picked by the league’s coaches to finish last in the East Division, and received the fewest votes of the conference’s 10 teams.
The Sun Belt recently released its preseason all-conference first and second teams, and second team sophomore linebacker Silas Kelly is the only CCU player listed. So the Chants are expected to have an uphill battle in their second season in the Sun Belt.
Moglia said Anderson will enter practices as the reigning starter, though Moglia said each player will have to earn their playing time this season regardless of the amount of games that have started in the past.
True freshman Bryce Carpenter also got some time with the first team in the spring game. “I think Bryce is going to have a great future with us,” Moglia said. “I think he has all the skill sets plus he’s a hard worker. But he’s still a freshman and still learning. We’re certainly looking forward to the contribution Bryce is going to make not just this year but over the span of his career.”