Issac J. Bailey | Moglia’s success resonates beyond football

Joe Moglia has become a strong case for diversity.

He’s the unconventional first-year head coach that has led the Coastal Carolina University football team to heights it had never known.

His team played in a second-round playoff game Saturday against No. 3-ranked Old Dominion.

Coastal twice visited the playoffs before Moglia; twice Coastal left without a victory.

No matter the outcome against Old Dominion, which boasts maybe the best player in FCS-level football, Moglia’s first season has to be deemed wildly successful.

The still-beloved David Bennett was ousted for a variety of reasons, including the team’s performance against the best teams in the Big South and waning home game attendance.

Moglia corrected the first problem by challenging Stony Brook (which is also in the second round of the playoffs) down to the wire and beating Liberty for a share of another conference crown.

The second problem has not been corrected. The stands were far from full during the championship-clinching game.

For now, addressing attendance can wait, though it should not be forgotten because of the importance Coastal officials gave it when talking about Bennett’s firing.

For now, Moglia’s on-field success has rightly pushed that conversation to a later date.

For now, what he represents is more compelling.

On the surface, there was little reason Coastal Carolina University President David DeCenzo should have hired Moglia.

He was a Wall Street guy who headed up TD Ameritrade, not someone who had been grinding his way up the college coaching ladder.

He had coaching experience from long ago, learned from top-level coaches at Nebraska and ran a team in a league most of us had never heard of.

The iconic coaches we know and trust talk like Steve Spurrier and have been dissecting Cover 2 Man and Slugo routes since they were in the crib.

Moglia spent a few decades becoming a 1-percenter, a millionaire times over.

Even if he loved football at one time long ago, why did he want to coach in Conway?

There were other seemingly more qualified and experienced candidates who wanted the job.

That’s what took so many people in the area aback.

What’s a Moglia?

DeCenzo and Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek looked past what tradition had decreed as a college coach candidate. They said they saw something deeper.

Many were angered because they loved Bennett, who laid a strong foundation for the fledgling program. Some remain critical, saying Moglia did it with Bennett’s recruits.

The fact is, Moglia brought the team to new heights.

What we don’t know, is if this is a flash in the pan.

We do know that for the first time in the program’s history, the team is playing football in December.

We know Moglia has taken the program a clear step toward DeCenzo and Yurachek’s long-term goal of competing on the national stage and for championships.

And he did it while being something some fans didn’t think they wanted, or needed.

Some still say he isn’t qualified.

Here’s what those critics must answer:

How do we know anyone is qualified, for any position?

Is it about our perceptions about the right kind of background, even if those perceptions are shallow and turn out to be misguided?

Or is it about performance and results?