Moore informed in 2011 of job change
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
A letter and a memorandum obtained Monday by the Watauga Democrat through a public records request confirm that former Appalachian State University head football coach Jerry Moore was informed of changes to his job status as early as December 2011.
In a letter dated Dec. 20, 2011 -- which Moore acknowledged in a recent interview -- Athletic Director Charlie Cobb indicated he initially wanted Moore to retire from the program after the 2011 season and accept a different position involving fundraising for the athletic department.
But in a memorandum dated Dec. 31, 2011, Cobb recommended to ASU Chancellor Kenneth Peacock that the university honor Moore's request to remain for the 2012 season -- but that it would be his last.
"The 2012 football season is Coach Moore's last season as head coach," Cobb said in his final recommendation to Peacock. "He will retire immediately following the final game of the 2012 season. This would be communicated immediately to him and the staff and announced publicly in the spring, although it is assumed that it will be made public before then."
It is not clear from these documents if this statement was communicated to Moore, who said he was "blindsided" when he was told on Dec. 2 that he would not return as ASU's head coach. The Mountaineers lost to Illinois State 38-37 one day earlier in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Steps had already been taken in December 2011 to end Moore's tenure as coach. According to the letter, Cobb offered Moore the position of special assistant to the athletic director in his letter to the coach, but Moore turned down the position. The position would have paid $100,000 annually and would have had Moore be, among other responsibilities, "a friendraiser and a fundraiser" to the program.
The position would have lasted from Jan. 1, 2012 until Dec. 31, 2014.
Cobb's Dec. 31 memo to Peacock suggested Moore requested to coach another season.
Cobb said he was satisfied that Moore had made enough significant changes to the program, which included addressing issues involving chemistry among players and coaching staff that plagued the team during the 2011 season.
There was no mention of Moore coaching beyond 2012.
"Charlie Cobb fought for me to come back last year," Moore said in a Dec. 5 meeting with select members of the media. "When we first started this conversation and started talking about all this stuff, I think he probably would have rather me have left, because he would not have had any issues at all. I would have almost begged to let me get this situation straightened out. To (Cobb), he said one year. To me, he gave me the opportunity to do it. In his mind, we were talking about one year, but he was never really, to me, understood that it was a cut and dried deal."
In his initial letter to Moore, Cobb hinted at today's high expectations for ASU's football program.
"Short of being able to guarantee a championship season, I'm not sure people, especially the ones that matter -- will be satisfied," Cobb wrote to Moore.
Cobb, who declined to comment on this story, did not elaborate on who the people "that matter" were. Attempts to reach Moore were unsuccessful.
Moore said on Dec. 5 a communication breakdown led to a misunderstanding.
"The whole deal was just communication," Moore said. "The whole thing was just not communicating. That's the only way you can word it. If it had been specific, hey, you've got one year to coach. No. 1, I almost question if I'd come back one year to coach. The only driving force there was, and I said this over, was to clean it up. To get all the bad stuff out."
The Dec. 31, 2011, memo to Peacock spelled out three reasons why Moore should be relieved of his position as head coach after the 2012 season. The first was the potential transition to the FBS.
Cobb said in the memo that the need to know which coach may be available after the 2012 season must be known for the Mountaineers to make a smooth transition from the FCS to the FBS.
"I cannot stress the importance of knowing this direction in terms of creating the best available candidate pool," Cobb said in the memo. "Also, potentially, the 2012 season will be the first of our 2-year transition period. If so, it is beneficial for this to begin with our existing situation instead of a new staff in terms of creating momentum during the transition years."
Moore said he would have coached the Mountaineers, even if the program had been invited to play in an FBS conference, in 2012 and 2013.
"I only wanted to coach one more year," he said. "We could have gone to the Big 12."
Moore's stance, once the feasibility committee got the approval of the ASU Board of Trustees to pursue a berth into an FBS conference, was to refer all questions to Cobb. He said nobody from the university ever talked to him about that, which was fine with Moore.
"They never talked to me about that phase of it," Moore said. "You guys have asked me that and other media guys have asked me, too; I've always referred to Charlie and Dr. Peacock. That's their decision. I'm not in that loop, don't care to be; it does not offend me that they don't ask."
Moore acknowledged that he received the Dec. 20, 2011, letter from Cobb and asked if he could fix the problems. ASU finished 8-4 in 2011, but several issues plagued the program during that season.
Three players were suspended for disciplinary reasons. Player problems compounded when seven offensive linemen met with Moore to complain about then-offensive line coach Bob McClain.
A fourth player was also dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons. The Mountaineers finished the season with a 34-12 loss to Maine in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
The Mountaineers lost six assistant coaches during December 2011, including four to Western Carolina, including Mark Speir, who was named the head coach of the Catamounts in December 2011.
A complete staff was hired in time for spring practice sessions.
Moore also signed a group of freshmen recruits, several who made an impact on the field in 2012.
The second reason listed in Cobb's memo to Peacock was "financial."
Moore, who was in the final year of a three-year contract that expires in July, had a base salary of $230,000. An additional $265,000 is owed in severance and accrued vacation to the other 11 members of the football staff, Cobb said.
The memo to Peacock said the new coach will probably "want somewhere in the $250,000-$350,000 annual range, and my guess is $650,000 for his assistant salaries."
Moore went 215-87 in 24 seasons with the Mountaineers. Appalachian State won 10 of its 12 Southern Conference championships and three Division I-AA/FCS national championships from 2005-07 under Moore.