Over the last seven years, I’d heard so much about him.
As a news organization, we’d written plenty about the man.
But until Friday, I’d never seen Joe Moglia in person, let alone met the guy.
After one meeting, I can tell you this: He’s as advertised.
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At a press conference announcing he would be stepping down from his post as Coastal Carolina head football coach while handing the baton to offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell, I played witness to a man known as much for success in the business world as he is for being a coach.
I was there only because I was filling in as our CCU beat writer was out of the country on vacation. I didn’t know what to expect.
Moglia quickly took command of the room, speaking with piercing yet playful eyes that let you know he was in charge but would be fair. At one point he briefly teared up while acknowledging that his coaching days were about to be behind him. He joked. He was serious. There was a lot of emotion.
All the while he was direct. He was willing to answer any question but also was quick to ask a reporter to rephrase an inquiry if it seemed to be dancing around a subject.
He had the command that one would expect from a business leader or a head football coach — or in this case, both. As advertised.
However, there’s a lot more to the man, and for a couple hours I got to witness it.
I introduced myself during the press conference so he’d know who I was when I asked a question. Following the formal questioning, I walked over to Moglia to officially introduce myself and he acted as if we we’d known each other for some time.
I asked questions and we joked. I never would have thought such a high-profile person would be so down to earth.
It all explained a lot about Moglia and what he’s about. His “Be A Man” (BAM) motto and Life After Football (LAF) initiatives have served his players in life, not just football. And while he’s transitioning his focus to his chairman of athletics and executive adviser to President David DeCenzo roles, he said he’ll still be active in both the BAM and LAF endeavors, maybe even more so now.
“I think we laid the foundation for a great program. That foundation was the idea of BAM and the idea of Life After Football,” Moglia said Friday. “I think those are competitive advantages for us.”
While Chadwell admitted he’d be running the program somewhat differently and would be his own man, he mentioned the importance of continuing BAM and LAF moving forward.
“When you have that in place, now you don’t have to completely come in and deal with those tweaks,” he said Friday.
Friday was also my first time meeting Chadwell and he too had a down-to-earth vibe to him. He spoke of coming from humble beginnings in the coaching world where he merely wanted to coach high school football in Tennessee before bigger ventures came calling.
And as he said, he and Moglia talk differently, the former having a bit of a Southern drawl and the latter having a more matter-of-fact New York accent. Chadwell also talked of how his coaching style differs from Moglia as he plans to be more physically hands on, bringing his own energy to drills and such.
Indeed, in a couple hours at the Norman Fieldhouse I met and witnessed two different men who have been pivotal to the CCU football program. But as different as they are, they proved Friday they have one major thing in common: They intend to do whatever they think is best for the program.
Now a full-fledged member of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Chanticleers’ next big step will be getting to a bowl game, something they ever so slightly missed in 2018. While Chadwell set winning Sun Belt Conference titles as his measuring stick, making a bowl game will either come first or at the same time.
And I believe that soon CCU will go bowling for the first time and Chadwell will be the man in charge of getting them there. But, as Moglia said, he’s still here and, while he won’t be leading the charge from the sideline, you can believe any major accomplishments in the coming years will likely have his fingerprints on them as well.
Moglia joked with one reporter saying that since he’s not coaching any longer perhaps he’ll take up “American Idol” on the many offers he’s received over the years. Or, instead, maybe he’ll become a dance instructor, he said. He also said that aside from having his hometown New York Giants come calling with millions waiting for him, he’d coached his last football game.
Comments like those drew laughter during the press conference as the man showed off his sense of humor. I spent just one day as a media member dealing directly with the coach and I can say that it was a pleasure. He was personable and fair, and that’s all you can ask for.
He used an early portion of the press conference to express gratitude to the media for their coverage and for being fair. Coming from some coaches, that would come off as disingenuous. But that wasn’t the sense I got from this encounter.
DeCenzo referenced how anything Moglia has touched has been successful and it’s hard to argue otherwise. Chadwell, meanwhile, mentioned how learning under the coach was something you couldn’t put a price tag on and I can believe it.
It was just one encounter, but it was enough for me to see why DeCenzo’s at-the-time questionable hire of a businessman who’d last coached the United Football League’s Omaha NightHawks was in fact genius. Moglia has indeed left an indelible mark on Coastal Carolina, both as a coach and as a person.
And while he’s still with the program and not yet ready to retire, I wouldn’t be surprised if the coach finds even more ways to be successful. It’s just what he does.
Will we find him teaching Zumba along the Grand Strand anytime soon? Who knows?
But if he did, I bet you he’d be pretty darn good at it.