Mike Gervasoni enlisted in the Marines two decades ago, viewing a stint in the armed services as a means to an end. The aspiring football coach had spent a couple of seasons as an assistant at Laney Community College in Oakland, Calif., after injuries ended his playing career and education at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. But he needed to earn a masters degree to get his desired job — a prize he couldn’t afford on a coach’s salary.

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