Coaching Legend Moore Talks Faith, Football in Bucks County
Three consecutive national championships.
The fifth winningest active coach in Division I.
Author of arguably the biggest upset in college football history…certainly in the last decade.
Six consecutive conference championships, with the hopes of adding a seventh this Fall.
Really, is there anything “Moore” that Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore needs to do in order to cement himself as an all-time college football coaching great?
Moore spent the weekend of May 20th speaking at New Life Christian Church in Newtown Township. The East Texas native- “We make ‘red’ a two-syllable word,” he smiled- recently addressed 300 people at New Life’s men’s breakfast and again at their May 21st worship services.
New Life member Hal Goodwin met Moore through Goodwin’s volunteer work at Operation Christmas Child. The Operation sends care packages overseas to needy children.
Operation Christmas Child is headquartered in Boone, NC- just minutes from App State. This fall will be Moore’s 23rd season in Boone. The coach, who has 199 wins as a Mountaineer, addressed the volunteers one day and connected with Goodwin.
A devout Christian, Moore touched on principles that have guided both his coaching and spiritual life. Moore feels that the same principles apply to both fields.
Legendary Oklahoma Sooner coach Bud Wilkinson provided many of those principles: “First, is Know What You Want To Do,” Moore advised. “Work harder than your players. Third is, Be Fair. And Discipline- this is easy to do in athletics, but the same thing has to happen in your spiritual life.” Moore reads from the books of Psalms and Proverbs every day.
He continued with principles that Moore has since added to Wilkinson’s four: “Don’t Compromise,” Moore explained. “It’s so hard on these young people. I go into a lot of schools and homes. They struggle in what to do.”
“Have a Plan,” Moore advised. “You have to want to be successful.” Moore also cited Endurance and Having a Cause, “that better outweigh everything else you have”, as two more maxims by which to live.
Any conversation with Moore inevitably turns to the Michigan game: the 34-32 stunning upset that Appalachian State delivered to the #5th-ranked Wolverines at The Big House in 2007. It was the first time that an FCS team had ever felled a ranked FBS team, and it earned the Mountaineers a Sports Illustrated cover the next week.
“We were prepared to play,” Moore said. “I don’t think we were a great team. But if you’re prepared to play, you find a way to make things happen.”
Moore’s final statement was to “Guard your bean patch.” He cited a story of one of King David’s warriors, who successfully slayed any Philistine who raided his bean patch, until those raids stopped.
“Guard those things that are precious to you,” Moore said. “Your faith and family. Everyone calls our stadium at App State ‘The Rock.’ We call it ‘The Bean Patch.’”
Moore’s incredible story started as a freshman in Bonham (TX) High, when he played receiver on a winless team. “We celebrated when we won the coin toss,” he joked.
But new coach M.B. Nelson, took over and eventually guided Bonham to an undefeated season in Moore’s senior year. Nelson’s influence- he was also Moore’s Sunday School teacher- convinced Moore, an All-State wide out, to get into coaching.
Moore starred at Baylor as an end, served as an assistant coach at SMU and Nebraska, and was the head man at North Texas and Texas Tech before taking over the reigns at App State in 1989.
“I was fired (from Texas Tech) in 1985,” Moore said. “I never thought I’d coach again.”
But coach he did at the FBS school in the Carolina mountains. Moore had success with an I-formation at App State. When he scrapped the I for the spread offense in 2004, the Mountaineers initially struggled.
Yet in 2005, App State became the first team in North Carolina to win a football national title. The Mountaineers would eventually “three-peat”, winning the FCS national championship in 2006 and 2007.
This past season, the Mountaineers won their sixth consecutive Southern Conference championship. In April, for the fourth time under Moore’s watch, multiple App State players (3) were selected in the NFL Draft.
App State’s May commencement exercises again validated Moore’s success in that area. The Mountaineers rank in the top 20% in Division 1 in the NCAA’s APR (Academic Progress Rate).
When the breakfast ended, the coach signed footballs and posed for photos until every request was honored. Folks in Newtown were learning what Appalachian State fans have known for years:
The Moore, the Merrier.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Share This Post: