By Chris Emma-
Editor’s note: CBSChicago’s Chris Emma spoke with Coastal Carolina football coach Joe Moglia to gather information and quotes on his background. Moglia agreed to the interview only with the purpose of telling his story.
(CBS) He’s the most successful man in coaching, and few college football powers have even considered him as a candidate.
Sure, Joe Moglia’s impressive 32-10 coaching record and three straight playoff appearances have come at the FCS level with Coastal Carolina. While it’s a remarkable run for a first-time college coach, it’s not something that would jump off a resume. But look down the resume to that list of career accolades and you find that Moglia isn’t your typical college coach.
Moglia left his low-paying job as defensive coordinator of Dartmouth in the early 1980s to enter the Wall Street world. He started by joining a training class at Merrill Lynch and became one of the corporation’s top executives. In 2001, he became CEO of TD Ameritrade and grew it from $700 million to $10 billion in market cap.
While at TD Ameritrade, Moglia had several offers in the business world to make more money, but he wasn’t interested.
“I didn’t lose a second of sleep on any other opportunities, but I couldn’t get the football thing out of my head,” Moglia said.
Moglia waited for the right opportunity to return to coaching, starting as a volunteer assistant down the road from Omaha at the University of Nebraska in 2009, that after legendary coach and then-athletic director Tom Osborne — who has a similar resume as a coach and politician — brought him into the program. Moglia spent a year with the UFL’s Omaha Nighhawks in his first head coaching job back from the business world, then joined Coastal Carolina in December 2011.
The transition from CEO of a major corporation to head coach of an FCS program would be shocking to most. Moglia doesn’t need to coach — he’s set for life financially, worth hundreds of millions of dollars — but he wanted to pursue a dream.
It’s no coincidence that Moglia is great as a coach, the same as he was a CEO.
“I always thought I was a much better business guy because of my experience as coach,” Moglia said in a phone interview. “And I’m must definitely a better coach because of my experience as a business guy.”
A long ways from Coastal Carolina, the University of Michigan is searching for a coach. In the Wolverines’ famous fight song, they cry for “leaders and the best.” But the failed regime of Brady Hoke brought the program to new lows.
What Michigan needs is a CEO figure to lead its titanic brand. It needs someone with a remarkable track record of success to bring the program back to the top. It needs a guy like Moglia.
Where Hoke failed most, what Michigan desperately must have, is a coach who can better in spire and develop the team. There’s talent but not a proven leader. Moglia may not have the major-conference coaching record, but he’s got something much better, experience that no coach can match. Building a Fortune 500 corporation to $10 billion in market cap should mean more than building a Mid-American Conference program.
“The most critical decisions a leader makes, whether it’s in the world of sports or world of business, is with people,” Moglia said.
Don’t be mistaken, though: Moglia isn’t some publicity stunt. Coastal Carolina took a chance on a leader and winner it believed in. This wasn’t meant for a headline. Now, the Chanticleers are an FCS power program.
When asked about moving up the coaching ranks, Moglia said it would have to be an “incredible opportunity” to leave Coastal Carolina and the success he has achieved. However, Moglia declined to comment on conversations with other schools.
But Moglia won’t shy away from a challenge. His astounding resume backs that claim. He’s proud of it.
“I’m the only person in the world who’s ever done this,” Moglia said. “It was unbelievable how difficult it was to get back into coaching, get my own team. I couldn’t feel more proud, more grateful, more fulfilled over the fact I was able to do this, and on top of it, to be successful.”
Take notice, Michigan, because the most successful man in coaching has a resume few can top.
Chris Emma covers the college sports scene for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.