You need only to listen to Joe Moglia’s press conference from Sun Belt Conference Media Days in July to know Coastal Carolina has a unique football coach.
While the league’s other nine coaches were addressing football issues, Moglia’s 15 or so minutes were taken up with talk of NASA, ISIS, North Korea’s nuclear program, the U.S. military and the 2016 presidential election, with some football sprinkled in.
Coastal president David DeCenzo knew he was getting an atypical football coach when he hired Moglia in December 2011.
But it would have been hard to foresee the full impact Moglia has had on the university, its profile, its football program and its students through his approach to coaching, influence, connections and willingness to take on multiple roles.
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“He’s not just what you would consider to be a head coach, somebody that only focuses on Xs and Os,” DeCenzo said. “I think he’s an individual that looks at success in a variety of ways and interacts with this academic community and the community at large in ways that go beyond just being a head coach.
“I think he has put a face on this university and certainly on athletics and football. Any time Joe is doing something publicly . . . he’s carrying the teal flag with him and that’s certainly some great advertising for Coastal Carolina University.”
Moglia’s official titles at the university are head football coach, executive director of football, and chairman of the athletic department.
But in essence his de facto roles include tutor, financial adviser, guidance counselor, fundraiser, marketer, mentor, chief executive officer and life coach.
All while also being the chairman of TD Ameritrade, an online brokerage firm with client assets of $1.3 trillion, according to Moglia, who approved an approximate $4 billion takeover of Scottrade during the 2016 season.
Moglia has brought a CEO mentality to his positions and changed the approach and operation of the CCU athletic department, and to some degree the entire university.
“He sees things from a very different perspective than most of us do, not just football but any type of area whether it’s business or logistics, and that can be challenging,” CCU Director of Athletics Matt Hogue said. “That can be challenging to the status quo, that can be challenging to convention, but it also can help you move forward and improve how you do everything.
“. . . He’s incredibly solution-oriented and he’s very relentless and he demands that level of relentlessness from his staff to find solutions, to always adapt, adjust and evolve in how you approach what we’re doing.”
At CCU, Moglia has helped orchestrate multi-million-dollar sponsorships, has been consulted for investment advice by the university’s foundation, has arranged speeches and meetings for student groups with impactful figures including billionaire businessman Warren Buffett, and has made several national television appearances as a business analyst.
“It’s those types of intangibles that we’ve seen have been a huge benefit,” Hogue said. “There are a lot of those intangibles we have access to that I’m not sure we would easily be able to get to if it wasn’t for his influence and his abilities.”
Moglia, 69, is unique in the history of college football. He has been a football coach for 24 years, but it is over two stints separated by more than two decades.
He coached for 16 years from 1968-83 at a few high schools as well as Lafayette and Dartmouth colleges – winning a pair of Ivy League tiles as the Dartmouth defensive coordinator – before leaving the business and rising to leadership roles in investment firms.
He worked for 17 years at Merrill Lynch before serving as TD Ameritrade’s CEO from 2001-08, overseeing exponential growth at the company. Moglia returned to football as Nebraska’s executive adviser to head coach Bo Pelini and was the head coach of the United Football League’s Omaha Nighthawks in 2011 before being hired by CCU.
Moglia’s story has led to a significant amount of media attention aside from football. He has been the subject of numerous print and television feature stories, including by 60 Minutes; has been a guest host on several national business news programs, most recently on CNBC in August; and is the subject of the Monte Burke book, “4th & Goal: One Man’s Quest to Recapture His Dream.” Moglia has also authored books on both football and business.
“If he makes an appearance on CNBC, if he makes an appearance on Fox Business or something, we know we get tangible benefit from that because if we had to buy that promotion it would cost a lot of money,” Hogue said. “Those are some of the things we benefit from with his presence.”
A rising program
While Moglia has meant a lot to the university in many ways, the football success is there, as well.
He is 54-18 as CCU head coach, led the team to the No. 1 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) ranking for a combined 10 weeks in 2014-15, made the playoffs in all four of his FCS seasons and twice reached the FCS quarterfinals, losing both times to the dynasty of North Dakota State in the midst of the Bison’s five consecutive FCS national championships.
Moglia has been the recipient of both the Eddie Robinson FCS National Coach of the Year Award – and a four-time finalist for it – and Vince Lombardi coaching award, and was inducted in 2017 into the Lombardi Hall of Fame.
“As a player you respect him. He’s had a lot of success on and off the field,” starting quarterback and grad student Kilton Anderson said. “He’s just one of those people when he talks to you he makes you buy in. You trust in him, you believe in him, and that’s a rare trait to have.
“His word goes a long way and he’s never going to let you down. I think that builds a lot of trust. You trust his character as well. He’s always a guy that’s going to be there for you. He creates a lot of passion and love on the team and brings a great synergy to this program.”
Moglia has also led the program’s move up to the Fooball Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level and into the Sun Belt Conference from the Big South.
DeCenzo credits Moglia with quickly elevating the program to being worthy of the jump. He said the Sun Belt approached him and then-CCU AD Hunter Yurachek around 2012 with interest of adding the Chants, but he declined believing the school and program weren’t ready.
“I think it’s directly attributable to Joe being here,” said DeCenzo, who believes the move is important for the nearly 11,000-student university. “I believe overall it will have a significant benefit for the university. It has already opened us up to new markets for recruiting students.”
BAM and LAF
What separates Coastal from other successful football programs is its Be A Man (BAM) motto and Life After Football (LAF) aspect.
The program essentially doesn’t have rules, it instead holds its players to the BAM standard, with the ideals of standing on your own two feet, treating others with dignity and respect, taking responsibility for your actions, and living with the consequences of those actions.
Through Life After Football, Moglia dedicates 30 minutes of practice time per week to talks on subjects he believes will benefit his players immediately and after their playing careers.
He often leads the talks on subjects including current events, or has university or community speakers discuss managing a budget, choosing and pursuing a career path, Title IX issues, sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
During his medical sabbatical last year, he spoke to the players at their request about the Charlottesville rally and protests, and the North Korea nuclear threat.
LAF guest speakers have included Catherine Hoke, who created and runs a program that gives inmates business training and combats repeat offender rates, and some graduates of her program; former NFL and Ohio State receiver Roy Hall, a founder of the “Driven Foundation” that works with inner city youth; former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, who speaks on personal growth and accountability; and representatives of NASA and Wall Street.
“He just wants us to keep updated in the world and not get behind,” Anderson said. “He just wants to inform us with the most current news so we can make our own decisions and create our own beliefs of what we take from what he teaches us. He just wants us to be ready for the real world. He knows that a lot of stuff that’s going on is going to affect us as soon as we graduate. So he wants us to be as well-informed as we possibly can so we can make the best decisions for ourselves.”
Moglia believes that in November 2016 Coastal became the first college football program in history to vote in its entirety in a presidential election when he organized buses to bring his players to a polling station.
The football team also spent eight hours in April 2017 with about 75 inmates at Evans Correctional Institute in Bennettsville – many of whom were sentenced to life in the prison – to gain perspective. “It was an incredible experience for both sides,” Moglia said.
It is evident his players are following through on LAF. In the last six years, nearly 50 players have been working on graduate degrees while on the team. The only other program in the nation close to that number is Stanford.
“You know a guy who can be that successful in the business world and in the athletic world, it’s a rarity,” Anderson said. “There’s not anyone else who is doing it like that. You want to play for someone like that because he’s been on both sides of the spectrum. When you get to learn from someone like that I think it can definitely place you into the world with a head start, and that’s the most exciting thing.”
To better help his players learn, Moglia employs the VAK (Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic) Test. He has everyone in the program – including administrative assistants and interns – take the test, which consist of 30 multiple-choice questions to determine if a person learns better through visual, auditory or physical teachings, and he employs that information while instructing his players and assistant coaches.
“You can’t just put it on the blackboard and expect them to learn it, or you can’t just tell them and expect them to learn, you kind of have to touch on a little bit of all three areas to make sure you’ve covered the whole room,” said CCU executive director of player personnel Rick Mueller. “He uses a lot of those outside-the-box things.”
Moglia has greatly increased the quality of the football education CCU’s players receive since he took over the program by loading his staff with talented and knowledgeable assistant coaches, which has also ensured the success of the program.
At least seven of his assistants in his first five years – all at the FCS level – were plucked by either NFL teams or FBS programs. That was never a concern prior to Moglia’s arrival.
Brock Olivo went to the Kansas City Chiefs, Doug Colman to the Houston Texans, Josh Stoner to Missouri, Brandon Noble and Dave Patenaude to Temple, Curome Cox to Connecticut and Nick Jones to Air Force.
His current staff includes defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders, a former defensive coordinator at North Carolina and assistant at Nebraska and Southern California; offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell, who was a two-time FCS National Coach of the Year finalist in four years as head coach at Charleston Southern and was considered for FBS head jobs before coming to CCU prior to the 2017 season; and Mueller, who was a player personnel executive with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars. Mueller and Moglia worked together in Omaha, where Mueller was the GM during Moglia’s year as head coach.
Sanders replaced the retired Mickey Matthews, who won the 2004 FCS national championship as the head coach at James Madison.
“My background is 20 years in the National Football League and I’ve been with some really special coaches and people . . . but he really made an impact on me in the year we spent together in the UFL,” Mueller said. “I thought having a chance to work with him again would be exciting. He’s a really good teacher, so he coaches the coaches on how to teach with his ideas.”
Full range of benefits
Moglia has opened the university and its athletic department to more philanthropic donations and sponsorships because of his connections.
He made the introductions that led to TD Bank’s initial $5 million gift that includes a naming rights sponsorship of CCU’s sports complex, a recycling program and endowment for athletes’ summer school needs. TD Bank Group has an ownership interest in TD Ameritrade.
Moglia said he has exceeded his football budget in recent years, but he has raised nearly $1 million in donations to cover the overages. He said it required about 10 phone calls to raise the money from people or businesses who believe in what is being done in the football program.
Moglia generally charges between $25,000 and $50,000 for speaking engagements outside the university, but regularly meets with or speaks to different groups on campus upon request, and has exposed CCU students to influential speakers.
He arranged for Wall Fellows in CCU’s Wall Business School to meet with Buffet in Omaha, Neb.; for former TD Financial Group CFO Colleen Johnston, and GENYOUth CEO and former Fox Business News VP and anchor Alexis Glick to speak to CCU’s Women in Philanthropy and Leadership (WIPL), and for Lewis Johnson, the founder and CEO of the asset management company Fundamental Global Investments, to speak at a real estate executives conference hosted by CCU.
Moglia was CCU’s commencement speaker in May – for multiple graduation ceremonies – and has given several commencement speeches at other universities in past years.
He has been a significant asset to the business department and many of its students.
He sits with a board that reviews and gives feedback to students in a portfolio management class who build an investment package for a university endowment. “It was a great experience for all of the students involved. Everybody in the room listened when he spoke, which was kind of cool,” said former CCU basketball player Christian Adams, who was a student in the class. “That’s just another example of him taking the time to kind of help out the university the best he can away from football.”
Moglia has helped many students in and out of his football program excel in classes and plot careers, including Adams, who graduated in three years in May and was inspired to pursue investment banking after hearing Moglia speak as a freshman.
He then met with him to develop a career path and remained in contact. Adams took a job with the Stephens Inc. financial services firm in Arkansas upon graduation.
“He made some connections for me, he actually opened some doors for me to get some jobs but I ended up taking a job at Stephens,” Adams aid. “But the primary way he helped me out was just kind of preparing me to get where I was going to be and explaining to me how I was going to get there and steering me toward a career path that was fit for me. Coach Moglia was a huge part of me being able to get to where I wanted to be.”
Alex Johnson played just one season at CCU as a freshman offensive lineman in 2014 before giving up football to pursue a career in investment management, yet says “there is no doubt in my mind that I have made it this far in life due to coach Moglia and the CCU football program. . . . I owe my life to the football program.”
After deciding to transfer, the Rochester, N.Y., native was accepted into two schools he thought were unattainable – Moglia’s alma mater Fordham and the Brown Graduate School three years later – both after Moglia wrote letters of recommendation, and he’s pursuing a Master of Public Affairs.
“I absolutely could not have gotten into [Fordham or] Brown had it not been for the BAM philosophy and coach Moglia’s gracious letter of recommendation,” said Johnson, who said he lives by the BAM philosophy he adopted after just one season.
Justin Landrum was a CCU tight end from 2003-06 who returned to the school as a recruiting and operations intern graduate assistant in 2013-14 while earning an MBA. He earned a commercial credit internship at TD Bank through the MBA program and is now a credit risk analyst for Credit Suisse in Raleigh, N.C.
“It was a tremendous experience for me to combine the MBA with the graduate assistantship under him,” Landrum said. “The ability to sit in that room every morning for that 30-minute meeting, everything from leadership to organization to him coaching us . . . and for that to compound on itself for about 15 months while I completed my MBA was tremendous. Then getting me into the financial services field, he played a big leadership role in that as well.”
Tyler Keane of Myrtle Beach, a CCU quarterback from 2013-17, was selected for an internship in the Buffalo Bills analytics department this season after Mueller helped him reach out to a number of his contacts on NFL teams.
“[Moglia] didn’t come here for the money, he came here because he knew he could make a difference, and I think his record has shown that,” DeCenzo said.