CONWAY, S.C. – Joe Moglia has another successful venture with Coastal Carolina football, one that could result in an FCS championship.
The one-time CEO of TD Ameritrade who returned to his first love coaching has the Chanticleers undefeated at 7-0 and No. 3 in the Football Championship Subdivision rankings. Moglia's club has won 13 of its past 14 games the past two seasons.
The 64-year-old coach didn't expect things to click in just his second season but said his players have bought into his philosophy: Football's more than simply what's accomplished between the lines.
"They started to see what we were talking about started to make sense and the process we go through sort of makes sense," Moglia said. "Probably the middle of last season is when they bought in. I think in most programs that takes two solid seasons. For us it took less than a year. That was a tremendous step in the right direction."
The Chants (7-0, 2-0 Big South) look to continue their run Saturday against VMI (1-6, 0-2).
Coastal Carolina's success started midway through Moglia's debut season of 2012 in the 10-year-old FCS program. That's when the Chants, at 2-4, began a five-game win streak to capture the Big South crown and earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs.
"I think everybody realized our full potential and what we could do if we came together as a team," said linebacker Mike McClure, second on Coastal with 44 tackles.
That showed last weekend in Liberty when the Chants trailed by 19 points in the third quarter yet rallied for a 55-52, double overtime victory. Defensive back LaDarius Hawthorne blocked Liberty's field goal try in the second OT to keep his team perfect.
"We just kept telling ourselves we had to keep fighting," McClure said. "We weren't going to lose this game."
It's hard to see Moglia losing at anything he puts his mind to. He won a pair of Ivy League championships as Dartmouth defensive coordinator in 1982 and 1983 before moving into the financial world to spend more time with family.
Moglia spent 17 years at Merrill Lynch before moving to TD Ameritrade where he steered the company to success from 2001-08 despite a shaky economy.
"We went from a market cap of $700 million to more than $10 billion," Moglia said with pride.
Moglia, though, still had the itch to coach college football and gave up his business life to return to the sidelines. He was hired by Nebraska coach Bo Pellini as an executive advisor, breaking down opponents and dealing with many aspects of the Cornhuskers program.
"I will be forever grateful to Bo for that," Moglia said.
After a year with the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks, Moglia felt ready to run his own show, but was unsure he'd get any interest from college presidents who might see hiring him as too great a risk. Moglia said he found a like-minded leader in Coastal Carolina President David DeCenzo, who hired him in Dec. 2011 to replace the school's first and only previous football coach David Bennett.
The move was surprising even to Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander, who's been won over like many others by Moglia's style.
"It's a broader approach," Kallander said. "It's not just about football. It's about developing young men for life."
Moglia's other career — he remains TD Ameritrade's chairman of the board — has paid dividends to Coastal Carolina, too. Earlier this month, the university announced a $5 million gift from TD Bank to rename the school's sports area that came from Moglia's introduction.
Moglia still pops up on financial networks to talk football and his old career, although these days he's concentrating on the sport that began his career. He's got a simple rule for his players, "Be A Man."
"You've got to live up to your responsibilities," Moglia said. There are "BAM" signs are all over the football complex, driving home the rule.
Moglia doesn't just focus on blocking, tackling and technique. On Thursdays, he'll speak with players on subjects like world terrorism, the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher and what his actions did to his family. Last year, they talked about the presidential election, and Moglia even laid out candidate policies.
"We had a lot of players vote," Moglia said. "That didn't happen at a lot of programs."
Moglia is happy in the FCS with Coastal Carolina. If an FBS school approached him, Moglia said it would have to be an offer where DeCenzo agreed, "You'd have to do it."