Coastal Carolina football coach Joe Moglia covered a wide range of topics in a two-part interview that initially touched on his busy offseason – full of speaking engagements and various honors – and followed up this week with his thoughts on the stalled Brooks Stadium expansion project.
With the stadium situation at the forefront of discussion these days for many on campus, following the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education’s vote last week not to grant state approval for the project at that time, we start with that portion of the interview and then go back to the highlights from a previous discussion.
Q: As the coach who is going to be leading this transition to the Sun Belt and FBS, what is your reaction to these delays in the state approval process?
Moglia: “I don’t think it’s uncommon for there to be delays in the process when you’re trying to expand your stadium and raise a reasonable amount of money. That’s not going to affect our process or it’s not going to affect the way we’re preparing or it’s not going to affect everybody’s attitude. I’m quite confident we’ll get this worked out over time, and in the meantime we’ll focus on the 2016 season as well as recruiting for the future.”
Q: Have you been asked to get more involved in the process as the state has made it very clear that private funding is what it’s going to take to move this forward? Your answer has always been while you’re at the university you don’t want to do anything like that, but has that changed?
Moglia: “No. So no one’s going to ask for me to personally put up money on this, and that’s not my intention.”
Q: But will you be more active in maybe reaching out to people who might get involved?
Moglia: “If I can think of somebody that would be willing to help us, I’m more than glad to help out our university any way I can, but I’m never going to have time to go out and be a serious fundraiser. There are other people at the university doing that, but if I can think of somebody I would make that call, sure.”
Q: It’s been a buzz-worthy topic on campus, but inside this building is there stress, is there frustration?
Moglia: “No, I think everybody gets a little bit rattled when they see something in the news, but that does get a little bit sensationalized. Frankly, the first thing that any of the players would do, the players would check with their coach, or they’d check with me, the coaches would check with me and I’d say what I just said. I’d say it’s not uncommon for there to be some bumps in the roads, and certainly the NCAA is behind us, the Sun Belt is behind us, our administration is behind us and I have no doubt the commission ultimately is going to get behind us. They’ve asked us to take a look at some other things. I think all those things are reasonable to do.”
Q: How is your recovery from knee surgery going?
Moglia: “It’s not going bad. I started for the first time being more aggressive with my exercises, so I’m kind of walking two miles whereas I was only walking like 400 yards. And I’ll stop and I’ll do some sit-ups, I’ll stop and do some push-ups and then I’ll stop and do [lunges]. I do all of this on my walks. … But it’s coming along.”
Q: You’ve had a busy offseason on the speaking and awards circuit. What have been the highlights for you?
Moglia: “It’s not uncommon for me to be asked to speak. Very often because of my schedule I’m not able to do that, but some of the speeches I’ve been asked to give were very important and I was glad to do that. The World 50 is a business-oriented group, global in nature, and they do two summits a year. It’s 24 hours and the press is not allowed so everything is meant to be candid and forthright. … They asked me to be their keynote speaker, and instead of it going with just me giving a regular talk [they] did more of an interview form and the people there asked questions. But I thought it was an important group, and I thought frankly it was good for me to learn as well and meet some of the people.
“The thing that Reggie Sanders had (a celebrity softball game to raise funds for autism), that morning at the church they had a great turnout and later on it was me, Reggie and Tony La Russa [talking to people]. And then [last month] the veterans in Georgetown, the American Legion and the VFW kind of joined together and they asked me to be their keynote.
“The one that I did that I really felt incredibly good about was the Fordham Prep one – the all-boys Catholic high school in the Bronx where I went to school. They’ve been playing football for 125 years … [and] I was inducted [into their football Hall of Fame], but they also wanted me to do the keynote. Not counting my family there were 35 people who I had either played with, or guys that I had coached [there] – 35 guys came back for this, that’s almost 50 years ago. So I can’t tell you how touched I was.
“The South Carolina Football Hall of Fame [Humanitarian of the Year award], I think that was nice – the contribution through football you make to the community. I spoke for 10 minutes. I felt more I was representing the school. And the other one I felt good about was the Eddie Robinson Award.”
(This part of the interview took place before Moglia was honored last week with the Hero Award from The Stuttering Association for the Young, or SAY.)
Q: How did you get involved with SAY and what is your connection there?
Moglia: People know that I had a stuttering problem. When I was in grammar school and high school and in college, even if I knew the answer to a question the teacher would ask I would be afraid to raise my hand because I was afraid I couldn’t get my words out. I had a serious stutter, so I would just stop talking. And then I chose a profession when I started coaching where I would have to communicate.
“My dad never finished eighth grade, my mother never finished high school so they didn’t know there was therapy for these things. So I’d stand in front of a mirror and practice for hours. … My confidence level is high and that’s only improved over the years, but I still have to prepare hard over the fear that I might not get my words out. But most of the time people don’t notice it.”
Q: Does that make it even more significant to you that you are a popular choice for keynote speeches and the such now?
Moglia: “It’s something I’m very proud of. If I get asked what’s the single biggest obstacle you have overcome, that’s what I tell them.”
Q: Does that still challenge you now?
Moglia: “When I’m really comfortable, if it’s my guys, I have a comfort level. No. 2, I know it’s my responsibility and I have to do it. If it’s a hostile crowd, I’ll still be prepared and I will definitely handle myself. … That’s where nobody can tell on the outside, but on the inside I will tighten up a little bit and that will translate to difficulty getting my words out. The truth is one minute before I get up I always say a little prayer, ‘Help me do a good job and help me get my words out.’ I say that every time.”
Q: I know you were proud of your team’s Academic Progress Rate (a program-record 969). What does that mean to you?
Moglia: “I’m really proud of that. For us to do the turnaround from where we were, I’m proud of that. It’s part of the ‘Life After Football’ piece. Everybody says that, but we really do live that, but that’s part of the reason guys are taking six credits over the summer time and they’re getting help and guidance. And the other piece is in the last [few] years we will have had nine guys who have gotten their master’s degree or will get second degrees or graduate degrees. By the way, I don’t think there’s another college in the nation that can say that. Maybe there is, but I doubt it. So for us, I would certainly hope, forget the record, when you look at what we’ve done in impacting our guys, I think it’s special. The APR thing was something I’m very proud of.”
Q: Do you want to weigh in on the political races?
Moglia: “I was talking to one of our kids the other day and he said he like Bernie. I said, ‘Why do you like Bernie?’ He was a student, I had a finance group come over and they wanted to talk to me about financial services. I said, ‘Why do you like him?’ He said, ‘Because he’s going to give me everything for free.’ I said, ‘Well that’s a good point.’ I think we could get surprised, but I think it is going to come down to [Donald] Trump and Hillary [Clinton].
“When you have a Democratic system like we do, in order to get something done you don’t [necessarily] pick the right thing; you compromise. … So you have decades and decades of compromise and that’s part of the reason you have an [unwieldy] IRS manual. That’s why we have political issues now we’re not addressing the way we should with Medicare, Social Security and stuff like that. After time all those compromises become mushy and our foundation is not as strong as what it’s been. We still live in the greatest country in the world, but our political foundation is not as strong as it’s been. …
“There are a lot of things with Trump I’m not comfortable with, but the thing he brings to the table is he’s not afraid to break some glass and I don’t think that’s a bad thing for our country right now. I’m not sure which way I’m going to vote, but that’s one of my observations. I think it comes down to Hillary and Trump, and Trump will bring something no other politician will bring – he’s not afraid to break a little glass. And at this time I think our country can use that.”