Behr: Moore showed class with players, fans, media
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
What has been speculated for a few years officially came to fruition Sunday night.
Jerry Moore is no longer the head football coach at Appalachian State. It’s a sad day for Appalachian Nation.
Moore’s fate was decided following the end of the 2011 season, according to athletic director Charlie Cobb. when an arrangeement was made that would have Moore step down at the end of the 2012 season.
Following ASU’s 38-37 loss to Illinois State Saturday, one of the toughest losses Moore has ever endured, I shook his hand and joked, “See you at the basketball games.”
Moore occasionally goes up to the Holmes Center to watch basketball. When he grandson, Trey Kavanaugh played junior varsity basketball at Watauga High School, Moore would venture to the old Lentz-Eggers Gym to check things out.
I had no idea it would be the last thing I’d say to him while he was still in charge of the football program.
There didn’t seem to be a group, be it a church organization or civic club, that Moore would not speak to upon request. After he led Appalachian State to three straight national championships, those requests seemed to never stop.
When the autograph lines were formed at Fan Fest, by far Moore’s was the longest. He’d sign and he’d post for photos and he’d chat with anybody who wanted to.
Moore is a class act. Let’s hope the next head coach is the same.
Times, especially at Appalachian State, have changed since I became sports editor at the Watauga Democrat in September 1999. In the “old days,” I would spend about an hour with Moore in his office, usually on a Tuesday, to talk about the upcoming game.
But there would be more things to chat about than just that football game. I grew up in Boulder, Colo., the home of the University of Colorado and a die-hard Buffaloes football fan.
My parents would drop me off at the stadium, and I’d walk home from the games.
Moore was an assistant coach for Nebraska, which was in the same Big-8 Conference my Buffs were in. He’d occasionally talk about his Huskers playing (and always pounding) my Buffs during the 1970s.
We’d talk about past players from those days on both sides. I was shocked that he had heard of Fairview High School, my high school, until I realized that one of our players originally singed with Nebraska.
I remember Moore allowing me to use two summer sessions to talk about a feature I was doing about him. It started as your average story, but grew to magazine length by the time it was finished.
The writing might have been boring. The subject of the story wasn’t.
Now it’s all done with a Tuesday conference call. That’s my mistake. I should have kept those meetings going. The closest thing I had was a few minutes after a practice, sometimes just once a week, because of my schedule.
Moore could be remarkably candid both in the old days and during recent years. The best time for writers to talk with Moore was after all of the technical stuff was talked about after an ASU victory.
Moore would talk about philosophies about not just football, but about life. The press conference would sort of switch into a bull session. The only things missing were the beer and pretzels.
Moore was good to me from the beginning. He patiently answered my questions the best he could, which was usually pretty good.
There were two times when I remember I irritated him. One was when I asked former center Scott Suttle if he was worried if the players would be flat during a playoffs run.
The other was about hiring a special teams coach after Western Carolina beat Appalachian State in 2004. He didn’t say anything, but if looks could kill… .
That’s just two questions out of thousands. Trust me, I’ve asked him more than just two stupid or irritating questions. It didn’t matter to Moore. He always showed me respect and seemed to understand that I, and my media colleagues, have a job to do.
He always had class.
His players were always the same way. Lots of players have come and gone though the gates of Kidd Brewer Stadium. They’ve all been respectful of my colleagues and me. Moore deserves his share of the credit for that.
Not all coaches feel that way.
Moore and his players were accessible. Media was allowed to watch practices with the unwritten agreement that nothing about the practice that would give an opponent a tip on what was coming would be reported.
Even then, that was never told to me. That’s more of my ethical decision than anything Moore told me.
Lots of programs don’t do that. When I went to interview Wyoming coach Joe Glenn in 2004, I had to wait in the sports information office before going to the final 15 minutes of the Cowboys’ practice. All I recognized were ASU plays being run against the starting defense.
Some programs don’t allow assistant coaches to talk to media. Colorado State assistant coach Billy Napier was the quarterback for Furman during the Miracle on the Mountain play in 2002. When I did a story on the Miracle on the Mountain 10 years later, I was not allowed to speak to Napier.
Instead, and I was told this was a rare exception, CSU released a vanilla statement from Napier about the play.
That never would happen at ASU. We, the media and the people we serve, owe Moore a big thank you for that.
The press was lucky to have Moore as the Appalachian State football coach. The fans were lucky to have Moore as the Appalachian State football coach. Appalachian State University was lucky to have Moore as the Appalachian State football coach.
Most importantly, the players were lucky to have Moore as the Appalachian State football coach.
The replacement has enormous shoes to fill.