NSSA Weekend: ASU’s Moore has no time to rest
By David Shaw
Jerry Moore could use a vacation.
The head football coach for three-time defending national champion Appalachian State, Moore just can’t squeeze any downtime into his spring schedule.
“There’s no time to even think about what’s happened,” Moore explained Saturday night, shortly after delivering a lively, 36-minute speech to NSSA members and guests at the Holiday Inn. “Outside of a couple weeks at Christmas, we’ve been going non-stop. Before you know it, it’ll be the middle of June and we’ll be preparing for LSU.
“We’re spending all of our time looking ahead, not back.”
Moore brought his aw-shucks demeanor to Salisbury and touched on a number of subjects, coursing from his junior high days in Texas to the Mountaineers’ stop-the-presses victory at Michigan last fall to beating Delaware for a third national title in December.
“Our team was so bad my freshman year in school,” he reminisced, “that if we won the coin toss, we celebrated.”
That elicited one of several bursts of laughter from the after-dinner crowd of 300. Moore, a former receiver at Baylor, braided an extra helping of humor ó alongside serious issues like the importance of loyalty, integrity and faith ó into his presentation. He recalled his first public speaking engagement several years ago ó as a Plan B fill-in for patients at a north Dallas mental hospital. One in particular proved rather hecklish, repeatedly interrupting and complaining that Moore, an assistant at Southern Methodist, was giving “the worst talk I’ve ever heard.”
Moore stuck to his index-card outline and continued, only to be insulted again.
“Hey Buddy,” Moore recalled the gentleman saying, “that’s not just bad. It’s lousy too.”
Afterward, an administrator huddled Moore on the side for a comment.
“That guy,” he was told, “has been here for eight years, and that’s the first time he’s said anything that makes sense.”
Moore took the criticism in stride and ran with it, landing additional coaching assignments at North Texas, Texas Tech, Arkansas and Nebraska before arriving at ASU in 1989. In 19 seasons he’s compiled a 167-70 record in Boone, including 39-6 the past three seasons. His sixth victory next season will be career win No. 200.
“Before I came here I’d never heard of Appalachian State ó didn’t know where it was, couldn’t spell it, couldn’t pronounce it,” he said. “But I knew coaching was all I ever wanted to do. It’s been my dream.”
Make that a 10-gallon dream. After winning a third straight Division I-AA (now called FCS) crown in Chattanooga, Moore had a pensive moment with his wife, Margaret. He asked her, “Honey, in your wildest dreams, did you ever think we’d be sitting here, celebrating a third national championship?”
Moore said she looked him right in the eye and replied, “Jerry, you’re not in my wildest dreams.”
Kidding aside, Moore has done a magnificent job resurrecting and maintaining the App. State program. He credits a supportive university administration along with athletic director Charlie Cobb and sportscaster David Jackson ó the voice of the Mountaineers and a 2007 NSSA honoree.
“Without David,” Moore insisted, “no one knows about us. He is the voice of everything we do, and our network is just exploding.”
The shot fired around the country came Sept. 1, when ASU stunned Michigan 34-32 ó thanks to blocked field goal by Corey Lynch on the game’s final play. It’s ironic that the game was added last spring as an 11th date.
“We had 10 games and they had 10,” Moore said. “They wanted a BCS team, and we just wanted a game. So every other day we were asking them and they weren’t responding. Finally, we got a fax from a Michigan associate AD. We had a game.”
The rest is cover-of-Sports Illustrated history. Moore remembers the last thought he shared with his players before they took the field in Ann Arbor.
“Appalachian State will never come back to the Big House,” he said. “This is it, our one shot right here. Win or lose, you’re gonna do something this afternoon that you’ll remember the rest of your lives. You’ve earned the right to be here. Now let’s go beat them.”
After a pause for effect, Moore concluded: “And they did.”
Contact David Shaw firstname.lastname@example.org.