Coastal hires Joe Billionaire

Coastal Carolina University is banking the future of its football program on billionaire businessman Joe Moglia, who was introduced as the Chanticleers’ new head coach at a press conference today.

In a surprising move that comes just 10 days after the firing of Coastal football founder and former coach David Bennett, CCU opted to hire a 61-year-old relative newcomer to college football who has made a bigger mark on Wall Street than the gridiron.

Moglia, the current chairman of TD Ameritrade, stepped down as the CEO of the online discount brokerage firm in 2008 to return to coaching. He is currently the president and head coach of the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks and he has served as an unpaid volunteer assistant to Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini for two seasons – far from the traditional route to the college head coaching ranks.

“I think most people know now I’m a football coach going back to football.  … People that don’t know me, it’s still this is just a business guy kind of coming back,” Moglia said.

“(I am) a coach that loved coaching, was good at it, left because he needed to do something else and now he’s got an opportunity. And guess what he’s doing? He’s got the guts to go back and do what we he really wants to do with his life.”

Moglia spent 16 years in coaching, primarily at Northeastern high schools and colleges, until he gave up his job as the defensive coordinator for Dartmouth College after the 1983 season and began a new career with Merrill Lynch, where he worked for 17 years before joining Ameritrade.

Moglia stepped down as CEO but remained on as chairman of Ameritrade while reviving his coaching career. He bought the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks and coached them to a 1-5 record last season after serving as Pelini’s right-hand man with the Cornhuskers at the request of legendary coach Tom Osbourne, who met Moglia through his many contributions to the football program.

The SI article chronicled Moglia’s involvement with the program, saying he put in 18-hour days shadowing Pelini to learn the ins-and-outs, as well as the Xs and Os, of a major college program. He has been mentioned as a candidate for the head coaching vacancy at his alma mater, Fordham University, but does not appear to be a finalist. Although far from a proven commodity on the sidelines, Moglia believes his business acumen makes him the ideal candidate for an FCS-level college head coaching job.

“Think about a business leader and think about what a head coach does,” Moglia told SI. “A coach makes decisions on people and significant decisions under pressures. You need to know the competition, your strengths and weaknesses, you need to unite and excite, to have a mission for your people.

“Well those are my strengths! Here’s the bottom line. I’m at a point in my life when I can do anything I want, and I’m picking this. I’m not going to pick something I’m not going to be outstanding at. I know this is something I can do.”

CCU has faith in his leadership – and certainly his money – to build a FCS powerhouse. Although NCAA rules mandated that Moglia earn no pay and play a limited role in certain football activities at Nebraska, such as recruiting, there are no known regulations against a wealthy coach using his own money to build his program – whether directly or through indirect donations.

Both CCU President David DeCenzo and athletics director Hunter Yurachek mentioned the phrase “return on investment” when listing the reasons for Bennett’s reassignment, and they appear to have found a bottom-line man to run the program. Despite Moglia’s limited coaching resume, his accomplishments in the business world are impressive.

While Moglia was CEO of TD Ameritrade from 2000-07, the firm’s market cap grew from $700 million to $10 billion and client assets from $24 billion to $280 billion. In 2008, when most of the financial services firms in the United States were going under, TD Ameritrade enjoyed its sixth consecutive record year. At the time his estimated net worth was listed at $1.2 billion.

Moglia decided to follow his heart back to coaching and Nebraska, where the colorful character has, according to his own resume, played poker with billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, made a hole-in-one on a 163-yard par-3 at the Omaha Country Club and played competitive baseball until the age of 41, hitting a home run in his final at-bat. He has authored books on business and coaching and even ran the New York City Marathon.

But for all of his accomplishments, Moglia may be a tough sell for the CCU administration over the more proven Bennett, who went 63-39 in nine seasons at CCU and won four conference titles.

“I wasn’t involved with that decision and I don’t know Coach Bennett,” Moglia responded to a question about the matter following his 30-minute opening statement. “I absolutely have a lot of respect for the fact that he has been the only coach here and established the tradition, but now it’s my job to take it to the next level.”

Moglia went on to defend the CCU administration’s decision and compliment the school for standing firm in the face of those angered by the move, including former Chants currently playing in the NFL Tyler Thigpen and Mike Tolbert. The central theme from Moglia’s one-hour sales pitch was asking fans to give him a chance.

But the big question between now and next fall will be whether a billionaire coach can buy his way to a championship program. Coastal is betting the bank on Moglia, who ultimately will be judged by wins and losses like every other coach.

“I don’t expect any of you to automatically blindly accept me, but I would ask you to give me a shot,” Moglia said. “I believe I’ll earn your respect over time.”

Here’s video of Moglia in a Q & A session:


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11 responses to “Coastal hires Joe Billionaire”

  1. mark Gray says:

    This man is smart that is proven I hope people do not blame him for coach Benettt’s firing.I would not have fired coach Bennett but this man does not deserve the blame.This sounds like a gamble worth taking .When the new basketball arena opens then we will be able to tell if this area and Coastal students are poor sports fans or not with no competition and weak support it looks like this is a poor area for sports.I think they should have gave coach Bennett a chance to recruit with the new field house & stadium addition but I won’t hold it against the new coach.

  2. MCChantFan says:

    It will gwt interesting for sure. I doubt the anonymity of this hire will appease those upset with Bennett’s dismissal; and those rubbing thier hands in anticipation of Bennett being let go b/c we had some “big fish” already lined up will surely be perplexed.

    However, this could be a “gem in the rough”, in that for a program to be successful today, you don’t need a “great X’s & O’s guy”. You need a mini-CEO to be the face, unifying leader, commander-in-charge etc. His hire, if correctly financially structured (i.e. lower pay than a more “big name” candidate or by his voluntary wishes) could leave a lot more room for 2 higher paid Offensive and Defensive Coordinator types.

    If you know college football this year, think Brady Hoke at Michigan. Low profile guy, but clear leader with 2 INCREDIBLE assisstants.

  3. NMBHeelsFan says:

    This is a true disappointment. If it comes to be that they actually turned down Amato to take this guy, that could have been the dumbest move ever. Why would you hire a guy pretending to be a football coach?

    I guarantee that they are just wanting him to give some of his money to the program. This is just crazy.

    I don’t have a problem with the guy. He is an obvious winner, and I am sure he knows about winning, but why would you hire him as a football coach?

    I guess they will name David Bennett the new CEO of TD Ameritrade now.

    This hire has DeCenzo all over it.

  4. NMBHeelsFan says:

    Interesting that he posed for that picture. Was it taken at MBHS field? That is what it looks like. It seems that it was taken a few days ago if it was at MB since we have not had weather that sunny in a couple of days.

  5. Wow, didn’t see that coming!

  6. Editor says:

    Don’t worry. Neither did any other media members, lol.

  7. You nailed it my friend~~~~~MONEY!!!

  8. cisco says:

    If this guy wins, he’ll buy his players. Then Indy will come calling.

  9. Greg says:

    Seriously who cares. SC is a Gamecock and Tiger State. Always has been always will. I am CCU alum and I dont care. U r born a gamecock or a tiger in this state. CCU sets themselves up for failure. They complain about tailgating, it a dry campus. So u want the students to come out for DIAA football but wait dont have fun and tailgate like every other school in the nation. A JOKE. Also Bennett deserved to get fired and Im glad CCU didnt get a USC assistant as head coach. I wouldnt want to lose him at USC. This hire just confirms what actually MB people and CCU people already know. Administration is why noone cares about football or basketball at CCU. Football without tailgating. Basketball in a high school gym. Really. CCU is a baseball school and hell those facilities suck to, just have a great coach who wants to live at the beach and puts up with the administration. This hire is about money more than likely. Is he coaching for free, donating tons of money, etc, wheres that story. Time will tell but dont give CCU much credit for it handiling of its sports programs. It could build it baseball program into a power house with good facilities and focus but it doesnt, it seats back and keeps pouring top 20 mooney into a football programs noone cares about. Its a SC and Clemson state. And if u want to compete build facilities that show u want to compete and dont ban the students from having a little fun at these sporting event. if u do that then u can ask yourself this. Seriously how hard is recruiting a 18 yr old to MB?? You should be recruiting the kid that couldnt go DI FBS hard and winning them . Its the beach people. What a joke CCU

  10. jim says:

    Joe Moglia will be either the find of the decade or the flop of the century. If you believe Mr. Moglia then his business skills plus his coaching experience qualify him for any coaching position in the country. If this is true then all football coaches should be billionaires just like him. Based on his rational I think I will re-examine all of my thought processes.

  11. ccualumfan says:

    Okay so where are the guys that were questioning me when I said there was a hidden agenda? How do you feel today? If this was not a hidden agenda, I do not know what is. Hidden was the fact this was already in the bag when Bennett got fired. Hidden was the fact that the guy is DeCenzo’s neighbor. What is the old saying, money talks? I heard it loud and clear today. I am sure he will bring a lot of money and attention to the program, good or bad. All I have to say is I wish him and Coastal the best. He better do his best to exceed the performance on the field that Bennett produced or a couple of guys will be looking for work. I am not worried for Bennett’s future, he will land on his feet and go on to greater successes once Joe and Decenzo settle out his contract. He can laugh all the way to the bank. I am not sure a 1-5 stint in the UFL was what most people had in mind when Yurachek was describing their ideal candidate, but when the wagon is full of money I guess a little thing like recent head coaching experience with a winning program can be overlooked. Good luck CCU football we will all be watching for sure.

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