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Monday, November 12, 2012

Who's having better season? Coach Moglia? AD Bennett? Notre Dame's Golson?

The football season has brought a ton of intrigue for a variety of reasons.

Former Myrtle Beach High School standout Everett Golson has begun to solidfy his position as the starting quarterback for the No. 3 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. His performance this weekend against a really bad Boston College team was solid, not spectacular. He had strong numbers but the team only scored 21 points in a 15-point victory, in part because of fumbles by the running backs - really good running backs - at the end of long drives. That pedestrian Notre Dame performance was enough to push the Irish up the rankings and closer to the national title game.

In all likelihood, they will win this upcoming weekend against Wake Forest, leaving only one obstacle to an undefeated season.

That obstacle is a huge one, though. Notre Dame will have to beat the hugely-talented USC Trojans in Los Angeles in its final game of the season. That is far from a sure thing. In that game, Golson will likely have to lead an offense that puts up more than 21 points to have a realistic chance. Notre Dame's defense is the strongest part of its team, but USC's offensive weapons are NFL-quality across the board and will be tough to stop.

Golson will have to resemble the quarterback he was at Myrtle Beach High School for his entire career rather than the young, redshirt freshman quarterback he's been - up and down - for much of this season to give his team a shot. Even then, there's no guarantee that they will end up in the title game. But Alabama's loss this past weekend made it a little more likely than it otherwise would have been. Golson's first season as a starter has been a success and could end up being a great one, depending on how he and the team finish.

The other big local sports story this past year was the firing of David Bennett, who had been the only head coach in the history of Coastal Carolina University's football program. He was replaced by multi-millionaire Joe Moglia, a guy who had never held a major head coaching position and had been away from the game for several years until he volunteered at Nebraska University before finding his way to Conway. That's why eyebrows were raised when he was hired. So far this season, the fledgling experiment has been working out.

He beat a Liberty team that crushed Coastal last year and played a close game against Stony Brook, the other big-time conference foe which humbled Coastal. Those two teams were prime reasons Bennett lost his job after a highly-successful tenure. This past weekend, Moglia got a gift when Liberty beat Stony Brook, which now puts Coastal in line to receive a coveted playoff bid, which would be the team's third in its history. If that happens, all of Moglia's critics would be silenced, at least for awhile. Of course, some will speculate whether Bennett would have had as much success this year given that most of the players on the roster are left-overs from the Bennett era. That's what sports fans do, speculate. Either way, Moglia taking the team to the playoffs during his first year can be regarded as nothing but a success. And if he pulls off the school's first playoff victory to boot, the heat the higher-ups at Coastal felt for hiring him will all but dissipate.

Which brings us to the aforementioned Bennett. He hasn't just gone quietly into the good night. He took over as athletic director at Socastee High School. And though he is not the coach at the school, and all of the on-field success rightly must go to the coaches, it must make him feel good that during his first year as AD the football team has gone undefeated for the first time in its history and is having its best year ever. Socastee is a game away from hosting the Lower State semi-finals, and its season included a win against the mighty Myrtle Beach Seahawks.

No one outside of the Socastee locker room before the beginning of the season saw this type of success coming this year. I suspect if he had the choice, Bennett would have preferred to have been leading Coastal down the stretch this year with another possible playoff appearance. But overseeing a big high school's athletic program and watching a football team doing unprecedented things is not a bad second choice.

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