WEST JEFFERSON-Former Appalachian State Head Football Coach Jerry Moore learned a thing or two on the way to becoming the most successful coach in school history.
From 1989-2012, Jerry Moore’s App State squads compiled a 215-87 win/loss record, three FCS Division 1 National Championships from 2005-2007, and his 2007 team famously became the first FCS school to beat a ranked FBS opponent when it knocked off Michigan in Ann Arbor.
With him through the ups-and-downs that come with coaching a Division 1 college football is his wife of 56 years, Margaret Moore.
Together, the pair were the featured speakers at the Ashe County GOP’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner on June 25. They offered their thoughts on faith and God, family, football and success. Here’s what you need to know.
If you’ve got faith, friends and family – you’ll be OK
Margaret Moore said the couple had no idea when it moved to Boone in 1989 that they’d still be around town 27 years later. “It has been a wonderful journey for us,” Margaret Moore said. “In the 27 years we’ve been here, we have grown to love the people like we’ve been here forever. Of the things that have had the biggest impact on our lives – it’s faith, family…and football. I’ve loved every minute of it.”
2004 – and the off season that followed – was a big test
Moore’s ASU teams had made the playoffs each season from 1998-2002 but missed the playoffs in both 2003 and 2004, and the latter team had gone just 6-5. “A football coach’s job security is based on wins and losses. Knowing the next year, 2005, we needed to not only have a winning season but we needed to go to the playoffs or Jerry’s contract would not be extended.”
Peace despite the noise
But Margaret Moore said she came into the 2005 feeling more at peace than any season prior, due in large part to continued bible study. “It was as if God was assuring me that everything was going to be alright and that he was going to take care of us,” Margaret Moore said. “As most of you know we did have a winning season in 2005, and won the first of our three national championships and they kept us for a little while longer.”
But there’s a flip side to walking by faith – It’s not always up to you
“If you really want to make God laugh, tell him your plan,” Margaret Moore said. “My plan was that after 2012 – it was Jerry’s 24th season at ASU – and I just knew it was God’s plan to coach the 2013 season and end his career with 25 seasons. But it was not going to work out like that. Our 24th season came to an end and it was time to move on having faith that God had a plan for us.”
The day’s first moments are the most important
Jerry Moore said a Vietnam veteran gave him a book of simple Psalms and proverbs in 1988. “He didn’t only give me the book but he was one of those guys who would call and follow up,” Jerry Moore said. “Well have you read this? One thing led to the other and I’ve come to realize that the first moments of the day – when your heart is fresh – give to God. Don’t see the face of man until you’ve seen the King. That’s the way we start our day, with the scriptures.”
Faithfulness. Tradition. Heritage.
Jerry Moore said great football programs become better over time because of the foundation the program is built on, and compared that to where the United States is today. “Why is America America,” Jerry Moore said. “It has nothing to do with politics…but what are you willing to give up? When the pilgrims came here, can you imagine getting on a ship that’s probably no longer than this room and sailing across the Atlantic? That’s boldness and that’s what tradition and heritage are all about. You have to be bold about things and you have to tell the truth. There are some things you don’t want to hear but you’ve got to hear them to get better.”
Leaders need to think big
“I was a leader of 17-21 year old players,” Jerry Moore said. “They’re young men and I think as a leader you’ve got to think big…and you’ve got to have a great heart for other people…and you’ve got to want results. Leaders have to want results, and if you think you can win, you can.”
Talent matters, but so does desire
“If I could tell you just one point that you can apply to your life, to your children to your marriage – I was waking to the practice field at the University of Nebraska. We were walking to the practice field, and one of the coaches said ‘Jerry you will never hear a Nebraska coach say, ‘That kid will never play.’ Kevin Richardson was an outstanding player in every national championship game for us from 2005-2007. He was a walk on player at Appalachian State. He did not have a scholarship. The kid that snapped the ball to the holder and the guy who kicked the winning field goal against Michigan – not any of the three of them were scholarship football players. Don’t tell me that you can’t, that you have to have a bunch of five star people.”
You’ll be remembered for something. Make it count.
“What do you want to be remembered for,” Jerry Moore asked. “Do you want to be remembered as the guy that couldn’t take care of his family? What are you willing to give up? There is a coach in Texas right now, that is fixing to move back here, so he can be with his boys and his wife. He’s going to take over a $100,000 cut in pay, but he’s going to make sure that his son graduates valedictorian of his class. He doesn’t want to be in central Texas talking to his son on the phone. He wants to be here with him. So what are you really willing to give up?”
Choose your friends wisely
“Who are you committed to, and what kind of commitment are you going to make,” Jerry Moore asked the members of the Ashe GOP meeting at Ashe County High School on June 25. “I heard the graduation speech at the University of Texas. (Admiral) William McRaven, he’s a Navy SEAL. He spoke to 8,000 students. One of the most powerful talks I’ve ever heard and he asked, ‘Who you partner with and who do you want to be around? Pick the right people. Pick your foursome, your people that you want to support and support them.”
You’re only human
“Always remember who you are and why you’re here,” Jerry Moore said. “You’re a human being, created by a loving God. Designed in his image for his purpose and you’re special in his eyes and everyone in this room will have a role to play in his eternal affairs, so remember that.”
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.