CCU’s Moglia played minor role in 1984 Orange Bowl

While watching the Clemson defense’s unsuccessful experiment with cement cleats Wednesday night, I started getting sentimental for the good ol’ days of college football, you know, when teams used to tackle.

The Orange Bowl setting brought to mind the 1984 Orange Bowl, one of the greatest college football games ever played, when Miami defeated Nebraska 31-30 because then-Cornhuskers coach Tom Osborne decided to go for 2 rather than settle for a tie and a sure national championship.

So I’m searching the Internet about that game’s decisive play and whose name do I come across than our own Joe Moglia, the new head coach of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. This guy hasn’t head-coached his first game, yet he had a hand in one of the most pivotal plays in college history.

In a Omaha World-Herald column by Tom Shatel last year, the story goes something like this: Moglia, then the defensive coordinator at Dartmouth, was on the recruiting trail in South Florida and spent the evening at longtime friend’s Tom Olivadotti, then the defensive coordinator for the Hurricanes.

Dinner turned into film study for the upcoming game against Nebraska and Olivadotti gave Moglia an assignment – study the Cornhuskers’ tendencies on third-and-short and fourth-and-short situations. Moglia came up with option pass right and suggested forcing the quarterback to make the throw.

“I was back at Dartmouth watching the game, and I remember it going down to the 2-point conversion,” Moglia recalled. “And I remember telling someone, ‘Watch this, they’re going to go right with the option pass and look for a guy in the corner.’ And that’s what happened. And Miami was ready for it.”

The rest is history. Miami made the stop after batting the ball away, Osborne had to wait to win his first national title, Olivadotti went on to a coaching career in the NFL and Moglia got out of coaching shortly afterward to begin his ascent atop the corporate ladder at TD Ameritrade.

Coincidentally, Moglia left the board room to become an unpaid volunteer assistant at Nebraska and forge a friendship with Osborne, who only later learned of Coach Joe’s role in “the play” that plagued him for years. “I’ve told Tom that story,”Moglia said. “He doesn’t think it’s funny.”

But it is funny that Moglia’s last act in coaching before his 25 year hiatus on Wall Street was a minor role in one of the major moments in college football. Now it’s going to be fun to see if he can work some more magic at Coastal.

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