Moglia Magic casting a spell over CCU fans, converts

Alright, Coastal Carolina football fans and observers. It’s time to man up and admit that some of you – OK, some of us – may have been a bit rash in our criticism of the hiring of head coach Joe Moglia.

The multi-millionaire CEO who left Wall Street behind to follow his unfulfilled football dreams is having a bigger impact on the program than any of us could have imagined. In just his second season, the unbeaten Chanticleers are ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation and rewriting school record books.

Not even CCU President Dr. David DeCenzo could have expected this much this fast when he got the ball rolling on Moglia’s recruitment about this time two years ago. In fairness to those who opposed the decision to fire David Bennett, most of their anger was over HOW it happened than THAT it happened, not at Moglia, although there were questions about why a wealthy executive was the best choice.

Perhaps we were acting more out of our admiration of Bennett than our opposition to Moglia. But go back to this same stretch of the 2011 season, when the Chants got de-pantsed at Liberty 63-27, blew a game to Gardner-Webb for getting two excessive (and premature) celebration penalties in the final minute, then basically threw in the Snuggie in a 42-0 loss on a cold day at Stony Brook.

That’s the Bennett-led stretch that prompted Decenzo to make a change, even if it could and should have been handled better. It’s common in sports for school presidents to make some behind-the-scenes moves, but did we really need the sham of a national search when you already had your man in pocket?

But Decenzo comes out smelling like a rose in light of what Moglia is doing, not just for the football team but for the school as a whole. Not only are his players achieving new heights on the field, but also in the classroom. Not to jinx anyone, but when was the last time we saw an unflattering mug shot of a CCU football player courtesy of J. Reuben Long Photography?

I remember Moglia feverishly trying to make comparisons between the role of a CEO and head coach at his introductory press conference. I’m sure others were thinking the same thing: “Fortune 500 talk goes a long way in the board room, but how will it play in the locker room with 18- to 22-year-olds?”

As it turns out, pretty darn good. Moglia’s model of hiring good assistants and holding them accountable for holding their players accountable is paying big dividends for CCU, and not just the football program. Moglia recently arranged a meeting in which TD Bank donated $5 million to the school, the highest single gift ever for CCU.

So I may have been a bit harsh last year when I wrote that last year’s 2-4 team had yet to see it’s “return on investment” (the phrase Decenzo repeated about Bennett’s firing) and called the score “Decenzo 0, Bennett $925,000 (the amount of his contract buyout). The score has definitely flipped since then as the Chants have won 13 of their last 14 and appear destined to host playoff games.

Now Coastal may face a good problem of having to retain their coach from bigger programs looking to cherry-pick Moglia and his staff. Even a big school like Nebraska, where Moglia served as an unpaid assistant under a now-embattled Bo Pelini, has to be impressed with what he’s doing at Coastal. Sometimes the toughest part of getting a return on investment is your ability to protect it.

But even if Moglia left today, he has already made a huge impact on CCU, and the best may be yet to come. Perhaps the only thing I was correct about was that for all the hard feelings surrounding Bennett’s departure and Moglia’s arrival was that ultimately the debate would be settled by wins and losses. As long as he keeps taking the Chants to new heights, Moglia is the man at CCU.

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One response to “Moglia Magic casting a spell over CCU fans, converts”

  1. Well said T~Buzz… I said virtually the same think on the TV Show Monday Night (HTC Channel 4 – 5-7pm) and on the radio show this morning (www.ThePressBoxRadio.com M-F 8-10am)… I was also in the skeptical camp with you, but I was wrong! Coach Moglia and his outstanding staff have shut us up… Wins & Discipline are tenants of the program. David Bennett is a great friend and I miss him, but we all have to give Joe Moglia the credit he deserves and Coastal deserves all the success that he’s bringing them!

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