Joe Moglia is the new head football coach at Coastal Carolina. This is his first gig as a college head coach and like so many of his first-time peers he’s thrilled to have the job. Unlike his peers, he’s 62 yearsold.
As far as I can tell, Moglia is the first coach to write a book about football (1981’s “The Perimeter Attack Offense”) and investing (2005’s “Coach Yourself to Financial Success: Winning the Investment Game”).
Which sold more?
“Investments,” Moglia says Thursday at Big South Conference Media Day at Renaissance Suites Hotel in Charlotte. “It’s such an important responsibility.”
Moglia, who grew up in Manhattan, coached for 16 years at high schools and small colleges in the Northeast. In 1983 he was defensive coordinator at Dartmouth. He and his wife were divorcing; they had four children aged six to 14.
The Miami Hurricanes offered him a coaching job. They were national champions. But he would be in Coral Gables and his kids would be in New Hampshire.
“I didn’t think I could do my job as a coach if I didn’t live up to my responsibilities as a father,” says Moglia.
He couldn’t stay at Dartmouth; he needed more money than they could pay. So he parlayed an economics degree from Fordham into the training program at Merrill Lynch.
“There were 26 of us,” says Moglia. “Twenty-five MBAs and one football coach.”
The MBAs were in their 20s. Moglia was in his mid-30s. They had resumes that shined. He had four kids.
“I could not afford to fail,” he says.
He didn’t. In 2001 he became CEO at what is now TD Ameritrade. The company was small; he helped make it big. They had five straight years of record earnings. He became wealthy.
Then came 2008 and what Moglia calls our “financial Armageddon.” The company was healthy; great time to leave.
Moglia lived in Omaha, where TD Ameritrade is based. He had options that would have made him richer. He volunteered. He coached without pay at Nebraska. He coached there in 2009 and ’10. Last season he became head coach of the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL.
Seven months ago Coastal Carolina hired him.
He could be on a yacht. From Conway, S.C., 15 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach and site of the campus, he can’t even see one.
What’s the connection between what you did on Wall Street and what you’ll do in the Big South?
“What you’re trying to do in business is understand what your core competencies are and then you figure out how you leverage those into competitive advantages so you can be effective in the markets that you choose to compete in,” says Moglia, eyes flashing and talking quickly.
In football, he says, you develop a system.
“You want to be able to adapt and adjust that system to the talent that your people have and then how do you then apply that to your competition?” Moglia asks. “So you’re taking your core competencies and leveraging them into a competitive advantage and hopefully you’re effective.”
He adds: “In both the most important decisions you make are going to be on people…I think an effective leader in the business world and in sports cares about his people. And the people that are part of his or her organization (will) feel that, they sense that, they see that.”
Moglia will not encourage players to leap into a major. He’ll encourage them to back into a major. Decide what they would like to do and find a major that could enable them to do it.
He’ll insist they learn to manage money.
“The typical family in this country spends more time planning a family vacation than they do managing finances,” Moglia says.
He looks at me as he says it. He looks through me.
Hey, Mr. TD Ameritrade Chairman of the Board (a title he’s retained): My family takes good vacations.
Sparky Woods, the head coach at the Big South’s Virginia Military Academy, is a former head coach at Appalachian State and South Carolina.
“I hope he’s not as good at coaching as he was at business or we’re all in trouble,” Woods says.
Can you have as significant an impact at Coastal Carolina as you had on Wall Street?
“I believe truly I’m having an impact in helping 18- to 22-year-olds become men,” says Moglia. “Now that’s pretty significant to me.”