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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 11 2013

CEO-turned-coach at the helm of Coastal Carolina

FARGO – It was 72 degrees last Wednesday when Coastal Carolina was practicing in advance of the second FCS playoff game at the University of Montana. Preparation was solely on the Grizzlies, but the weather wasn’t far behind.

The temperature at kickoff was minus-5 degrees with a wind chill well into double digits below zero. Consider the Chanticleers are a team where half the players don’t own a coat, said head coach Joe Moglia.

He said half the team had never seen snow in person.

“It was an incredible education process,” Moglia said. “When you’re used to playing in 70 degree temperatures, it would take your body six weeks to adjust to zero degrees. It had nothing to do with being macho. It had everything to do with understanding how to handle cold weather.”

They handled it all right; the Chanticleers’ 42-35 win was the biggest in school history in what Moglia called the coldest game ever played in FCS history.

It was quite the story.

Of course, the head coach is quite the story himself.

Moglia has been the subject of numerous stories as the so-called “billionaire coach.” He’s reportedly not billionaire wealthy, but his stint as the CEO of TD Ameritrade made him quite successful.

He left coaching football in the early 1980s to enter the business world, reaching an annual salary of $21 million in 2008 that included $100 million in company stock, according to Sports Illustrated. He remains as the Chairman of the Board of TD Ameritrade but got back into coaching, serving as a volunteer assistant at the University of Nebraska.

He was the head coach of the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League in 2011 before Coastal Carolina hired him last year.

“I admire his story,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “That company is a big, big outfit, and if you’re a CEO of that outfit, you must have some skills”

Bohl was then told the shareholders in TD Ameritrade under Moglia’s leadership had a 500 percent return.

“That’s a hellavu lot better than 40-2,” Bohl said.

That is NDSU’s record in its last 42 games.

That is the task the Chanticleers face Saturday at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome when they venture back west to another of the FCS’s best home-field advantages. In a span of seven days, they’ll go from one of the loudest and coldest to one that’s louder and indoors.

“When I was hired at Coastal, the objective was to compete at some point at a national level,” Moglia said. “I don’t think anybody expected us to compete at a national level as soon as we did, which was a year ago.”

They’ve won two straight Big South Conference titles under Moglia’s philosophy of no team rules but a mission: “To stand on your own two feet and accept responsibility for yourself,” he said. “In football, in the classroom, behavior on and off campus and recognize you have to live with the consequences of your actions. It sounds good, but it’s a very, very really tough standard.”

At least this week Coastal doesn’t have to take a crash course in heat retention. That was tough, but probably not the headaches of being a CEO of TD Ameritrade.


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia