COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — New Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia understands that in football, just like on Wall Street, results matter.
So the man nicknamed "the billionaire coach" for the money he made in the past two decades in the financial market understands the best way to earn love from Chanticleers fans who may still be loyal to fired coach and football program founder David Bennett is to win, starting with the season opener Saturday against North Carolina A&T.
"I think everybody is pretty much excited now," Moglia said. We just have to make sure we won't let them down."
In other games Saturday involving South Carolina's Football Championship Subdivision teams, The Citadel hosts Charleston Southern; Furman travels to Samford; Wofford is at Gardner-Webb; and Presbyterian hosts Brevard.
South Carolina State opened the season Thursday at the Georgia Dome, beating Georgia State 33-6.
In Conway, Moglia will try to show the unorthodox decision to get rid of Bennett, who built the program from scratch, made two FCS playoffs, won four Big South Conference titles and went 7-4 in 2011 and 63-39 in nine seasons, was the right one. Moglia's only head coaching experience was a 1-4 stint as head coach of the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. He left coaching in 1983, spending the next 17 years with Merrill Lynch, before heading to TD Ameritrade and turning it into a $10 billion venture
"We have the best interests of this university and our kids at heart," Moglia said. "Anybody that cares about this place, it should be their priority too. How they feel about me, I can't worry too much about that."
On the field, Moglia was left with plenty of pieces. South Carolina transfer Aramis Hilary will lead an up-tempo offense that includes preseason all-Big South picks at tight end and receiver.
In Charleston, The Citadel and Charleston Southern will play each other for the first time in five years.
The Buccaneers are trying to end a 12-game losing streak, the longest in Division I football. The only time Charleston Southern beat the Bulldogs was in 2006, when the victory was the 14th straight for the Buccaneers, at the time, the longest winning streak in the country.
Charleston Southern coach Jay Mills is saying the same things he did during last year's lost season — that success isn't always measured by wins, but the pursuit of excellence. But he also said his team looked much better in fall camp this season and is dealing with fewer injuries.
"I think we're finally hitting on all cylinders," Mills said.
The Citadel is in its third year of putting in an option offense. The Bulldogs went 4-7 last year, but coach Kevin Higgins expects his players to run his scheme better this season. Mills said the Bulldogs may be one of the best FCS teams that Charleston Southern plays this year.
Higgins said he expects a much better Buccaneers team, too, with so many injured players now healthy.
"They have most of those guys back and looking at their lineup they have great speed at the skill positions," Higgins said.
In Birmingham, Ala., Furman will be the only Southern Conference team opening with a league game, taking on Samford.
The Paladins went 6-5 last year in an up and down season that saw them beat SoCon powerhouses like Wofford and Appalachian State, but lose to the Bulldogs for the first time in league play.
Second year coach Bruce Fowler remembers well that Furman ran for just 71 yards in that game, their second-lowest total in 2011. He said the Paladins must run better to win Saturday.
Furman is starting with a SoCon game for just the second time since 1975, and Fowler recognizes it is extra crucial to get a win to get the season off to a good start.
"It's a big start for us, going on the road to play a conference game your very first game. They are all important and being a conference game, it's a premium no doubt," Fowler said.
In Boiling Springs, N.C., Wofford will open the season against Gardner-Webb. The Terriers are coming off an 8-4 season and another FCS playoff bid, while the Runnin' Bulldogs went 4-7.
Wofford is breaking in a new leader to its triple option attack. Junior Brian Kass is getting his first start. But the rest of the backfield is quite experienced, led by fullback Eric Breitenstein, the 2011 SoCon player of the year. So Wofford coach Mike Ayers isn't too worried about Kass.
"He understands what his role is. He understands that he is part of the equation — he's not the whole equation," Ayers said.
Like most of his fellow coaches, Ayers is eager to get on the field. He thinks the Terriers had a good fall camp, but he won't know for certain how good they are until they start playing Saturday.
"You never know until you tee it up, what it is going to be like," Ayers said.