Going for broke to break the CCU football coaching story

Not to toot our own horn but … DaDaDaDa-TaaDaa!
It’s well deserved since GrandStrandSportsReport.com, in cooperation with sportstalkgolive.com and thepressboxradio.com, were the first to break the news about Coastal Carolina’s bizarre football coaching hire by about nine hours.

After the local TV stations had switched to Letterman and Leno and the newspapers were safely out to bed for the night, we were still working the phones and numerous sources to find the 411, and we got it. A shout-out to Allen Smothers and Phil Kornblut for all their assistance.

Now that the bragging is over, the real reason I’m sharing this story because it was a wild 24-hour ride that readers might enjoy knowing about. For me it was a return to the adreneline rush I used to get when I was chasing a big story for The Sun News back in the day.

It all started with a tip early Monday that Coastal was calling a news conference for Tuesday to announce their new coach. Kind of quick, I thought, and we started making the usual round of phone calls to see what we could find out. All signs pointed to Chuck Amato.

The former N.C. State coach made more sense than any other candidate we had heard mentioned. He spent two decades coaching under Florida State legend Bobby Bowden and had some success at N.C. State, but his record with the Wolfpack was worse than David Bennett’s.

We were so close to going with the story before Smothers called to kill the deal, saying Amato was not Coastal’s man. We later learned from another source that someone had sent a congratulatory Tweet to Amato’s wife, who responded something to the effect of “We wish it was us.”

We were stumped and desperate, then Kornblut drops what turned out to be a bombshell. A source had mentioned to him to look out for this guy who was a dark horse, a billionaire Wall Street suit that was willing to build a football program with his own wealth if necessary.

Like Kornblut, I laughed off the idea until I started doing some research on Joe Moglia. His credentials were impressive, he was involved with some reputable football folks, and to the best of our knowledge he did not hate cats. Still, this seemed too far-fetched even for Coastal.

Then came the break; the Bad Boy comes through with confirmation that Joe Billionaire was coming to Conway. I started writing the story that I couldn’t believe myself while partner Tyler Watkins worked his social-media magic and found more evidence pointing to the unthinkable.

I finished the story, pondered a headlne, found a great photo of Moglia on his website featuring a CEO sitting on the sidelines with a football. Then my cursor hovered over the “publish” button for what seemed like an eternity. Once I pushed this button, nothing would be the same.

Not to be too dramatic, but our website is only 3 months old and we’re still striving to draw visitors and establish ourselves as THE source for local sports. If the story is true and we’re the only local media outlet to get it in advance, we earn instant credibility in the community.

But if the story is wrong, like some decoy planted by CCU to throw the press off the real trail, we are just another website that throws rumors out there just to attract attention. I’ve spent my entire career trying to avoid misleading readers. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously.

So after rehashing what we knew, who we learned it from and how we learned it, I took a deep breath and pushed the button at about 2 a.m. There was no way of sleeping before the news came out. We started drawing traffic immediately and broke our one-day record by 9:30 a.m.

Then it happened. CCU sent out an early press release confirming the hire and Maglio took the stage and quickly set the record for the longest opening statement in college football history – more than 30 minutes before taking questions from the floor, 1 hour, 10 minutes in all.

I could only giggle like a school girl while the whole thing was unfolding. It reminded me of why I got into this business 20-plus years ago.
Although there is competition among media members for bragging rights to breaking a story, the real reason we do it is to give our readers the truth as it happens, not when the powers-that-be decide it’s time. It’s more important that we be right rather than first, but doing both is sweet.
Just wanted to take you behind the scenes to see how we roll here at GSSR. We’re looking out for you, even if we have to look in some odd places at some odds times – and come up with a story so odd it has to be true.

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2 responses to “Going for broke to break the CCU football coaching story”

  1. Dan says:

    Thanks for posting this! Your coverage over the last few days has definitely impressed me. As a Chanticleer alum living in New York, I needed a place to find some quality sports coverage, and your efforts this past week have definitely won me over. Keep it up!

  2. Randall Hill says:

    Hey Terry:
    Great job on breaking the story. I know you were nervous about hitting the publish button but sometimes you have to take a chance when you know you have a great source. I’m so glad you are here making things happen only this time they are your rewards.

    Randall

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