“Nothing can ever can top being able to coach at Appalachian.” – Jerry Moore
By Jesse Wood
Oct. 6, 2014. Former Appalachian State Mountaineers football head coach Jerry Moore used to tell his players after a loss, “We wasted four hours [of our life] if we didn’t learn from it.”
Moore said the same thing about the past two years, which have certainly been a trying time for the former coach, who led the Mountaineers to three consecutive national championships, 23 winning seasons in 24 years and the monumental upset over Michigan in 2007.
“I may have wasted two years of my life if I didn’t learn from this,” Moore said in an interview on Monday morning, two days after he was recognized at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday for his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame – an event that Moore said helped to bring him some closure.
Moore, of course, was referring to the circumstances surrounding his dismissal as head coach of the football team on Dec. 2, 2012, the morning after a heartbreaking 38-37 defeat to Illinois State in overtime in the second round of the playoffs.
Asked what he learned throughout this ordeal, which resulted from poor communication between both Moore and former App State Athletic Director Charlie Cobb, Moore said, “Patience is probably the biggest thing.”
“Nothing tops what we did here, and when I say we, I am not talking about me as coach, I am talking about us as the Appalachian family, and for about two years, I wasn’t sure I was still in the family,” Moore said. “But even in family things don’t always go like you want it to. It was a great experience. Most every Appalachian person said it was a great experience for Appalachian. All I really did was stand on the sidelines with my hands folded. The players and fans made all this happen. It’s been a great thing.”
As for that “great experience,” Moore was talking about not only the historic run the Mountaineers had with Moore at the helm for 24 years but the recognition Moore and his wife, Margaret, received at Saturday’s home game against Southern Alabama.
When Moore arrived in Kidd Brewer Stadium he walked around the track shaking hands and giving high fives to those in the crowd. He was interviewed by ESPN, which televised the game, and Moore and his wife walked through the tunnel and a gauntlet of family, friends, former players, staff and coaches wives to the 50-yard line to be recognized for his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, which is an extremely rare achievement for a football coach.
Among those standing with the Moores were ASU Chancellor Sheri Everts, interim ASU Athletic Director Rick Beasley and representatives from the National Football Foundation, the organization that presented the award to Moore.
Mrs. Moore said the whole day was “overwhelming,” describing it as a “very, very special day” from the minute they woke up on Saturday morning.
While Mrs. Moore said that every minute of the day was touching, she mentioned that what particularly stood out was former football players coming up to them.
“I keep calling them my boys, my kids. Just to see them come up and give Jerry a handshake and give me a hug. That was not planned, and that meant a lot. When we were here coaching, I would go watch them at practice. I was their replacement mom until the moms would get here for them,” Mrs. Moore said. “Walking through the line of former players and coaches wives and giving them a hug and just seeing their response and obviously the [roar] of the crowd meant so much.”
Mrs. Moore added that while Jerry didn’t show too much emotion, he was holding her hand, gripping it tightly and was very emotional.
“He’s gone through so many emotions [in the past two years] this was just one that made him really realize how much he was really loved,” Mrs. Moore said.
Coach Moore, who noted that “like everyone once else in a while, we all need a slap on the back,” said he was happy first and foremost for his family. Secondly, Moore noted the response from his former players and the outpouring of support and recognition from fans.
“Their affection and gravitation toward Margaret and my family was awesome. That went on all night,” Moore said. “It was an awesome night.”
When Moore’s 24-year run ended with Appalachian State in 2012, Moore said he could have picked up the pieces and moved with his family elsewhere to coach and live out their days. But he mentioned that two of his three children graduated from Appalachian State University and his wife taught at Blowing Rock Elementary School for 15 years. Both have been involved in community service for many years in the High Country.
“We enjoy being part of this community,” Moore said.
During the game on Saturday, Moore hung out with Chancellor Sheri Everts in the Chancellor’s Press Box. Moore said he told her that he was very supportive of her and that he wanted nothing but the best for the university and the Appalachian Family.
He even mentioned that he would “stay out of the way” if that was needed, however he would prefer to be involved in someway.
“I’d like to be in the parade,” Moore said. “I don’t care about leading it.”