Coastal Carolina University’s football team is ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in program history - just a few years after undergoing an upheaval in the community when popular (and successful) coach David Bennett was replaced with some dude named Joe Moglia, who was then better known to CNBC than ESPN.
Lots of people leveled ugly charges against CCU President David DeCenzo, claiming he allowed Moglia, who had more experience on Wall Street than the sidelines, to buy the position.
Football fans can be a bit crazy (I know, because I’m one) and some got carried away with their displeasure with the move.
I wasn’t sure it was a good move but noted then it was a gutsy one. (Read my initial piece about the hire below.)
If Moglia wasn’t able to elevate CCU to the national stage, it would have been a failure, even if he matched Bennett’s success.
I know we have a strong base for recruiting, but I definitely did not see CCU reaching this level so soon under Moglia.
Did you? And be honest.
Here’s my first piece after Moglia’s hiring:
Issac J. Bailey - Coastal Carolina University football swaps country mouse for city mouse - December 20, 2011
It might seem that Coastal Carolina University fired Billy Graham and hired Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, they announced a successor to former head football coach David Bennett: Joe Moglia .
That made it official: the country mouse has been put out to pasture and the city mouse has been given the keys to an up-and-coming college football program.
Bennett was Catawba and cornbread. Moglia is Brooklyn and brandy.
Bennett asked about a stranger’s favorite Bible verse. Moglia wants to know about the diversification of your 401k.
Bennett speaks fast and with a deep, Southern drawl. Moglia speaks fast and sounds like one of the detectives on the original “Law & Order.”
Before Coastal, Bennett led a highly successful small-time football program.
Before Coastal, Moglia was an executive with Merrill Lynch and will remain chairman of TD Ameritrade even as he runs around with Coastal’s chicken mascot.
Bennett believed God placed him in Conway for the long haul and was shocked when he was relieved of duty.
Moglia didn’t much mention God in the press conference and Sports Illustrated called him a billionaire, a claim Moglia modestly said was a bit exaggerated.
Bennett knows John 3:16. Moglia knows why the financial market crashed in 2008.
For a while, Bennett was able to get lots of people to buy tickets to football games.
Moglia might be able to help the university raise millions of dollars with his deep-pocketed contacts.
There were plenty of platitudes uttered during Tuesday’s press conference, of course.
CCU President David DeCenzo reminded the gathered media that Moglia would be “building upon a strong foundation.”
Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek talked about how it was critical to find a strong, CEO-like leader who could make tough decisions under pressure and deal with the consequences. He not only found a CEO-like leader, he found an actual CEO. Moglia was the chief executive officer of TD Ameritrade and had offers from other large corporations.
Everybody talked about excellence and setting the bar high.
Moglia and Bennett might seem like polar opposites, but they echo common refrains, even if Bennett’s were littered with Biblical references and Moglia ’s are couched in bedrock business principles.
Bennett is a lifelong football man, Moglia has a lifelong love of football he just can’t shake.
They both talk of hard-scrabble, humble beginnings that provided them an unparalleled work ethic.
Moglia reiterated themes Coastal fans have heard from Bennett for almost a decade, about the need to turn boys into men, about teaching people to stand on their own and take responsibility for their actions.
He talked about the time in the 1980s he declined an offer to eventually become the defensive coordinator of one of the nation’s most success and storied football programs because it would have taken him too far from his children.
He worked at a storied program, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, in 2009 and 2010 as a full-time defensive consultant learning championship football from the legendary Tom Osborne. That says a lot about his love of the game. He received no salary from Nebraska – after averaging about $14 million a year at TD Ameritrade – while working 70-hour weeks and will only pocket $175,000 a year at Coastal.
He talked about teaching players to put Coastal Carolina university ahead of Coastal Carolina football and the pursuit of excellence in the classroom above the pursuit of a 90-year TD run.
He talked about presenting a positive image as a representative of Coastal, something he plans to instill not just in his players but in the minds of the coaches he will hire as well.
Moglia has published books about football and investing and been enshrined into high school halls of fame and the Omaha Business Hall of Fame.
He touched on his football philosophy, which is as aggressive as his personality – forceful and relentless and face-paced.
The offense will be the type that made Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow famous and put Appalachian State football on the national radar.
He wants everyone – the fans, alumni, media, players, professors – to be proud of the football product on and off the field.
All of that’s cool. All of that’s necessary.
But if Moglia ’s team allows more than 100 combined points next year to Stony Brook and Liberty the way Coastal did this past season, it will all be for naught.
“We know we’ve got to win,” Moglia said. “We know that.”
With this transition to a new era of football, Coastal officials have set the bar that high.
Moglia ’s life seems to have been all about achieving greatness and setting new standards.
He’d better do the same thing at Coastal, or as he said, suffer the consequences.