One of the sad parts about the end of the Jerry Moore era at Appalachian State is that the venerable old coach won’t get to update his Citadel story.
For years, the 73-year-old coach — who was fired, resigned, retired or had his tenure concluded, depending on which account you read — would turn to the same Citadel story whenever the Mountaineers were preparing to play the Bulldogs.
Moore, who began coaching at App State in 1989, would always go back to that season when searching for something good to say about The Citadel. On his first trip to Johnson Hagood Stadium, the Bulldogs beat App State by 23-13.
“Why, I remember my first trip to Charleston …” Moore would say before talking about how well-coached and disciplined the Bulldogs were, and how hard they played. Of course, when your team has won 17 of 18 meetings, it’s hard to come up with new material.
The Citadel gave him some this year, with a 52-28 trouncing in Boone. Unfortunately, Moore won’t be able to use that next year, as he was ousted on Sunday after 24 seasons in Boone.
After the Mountaineers’ final game of the season, a playoff loss to Illinois State on Saturday, Moore made it clear to reporters that he wanted to come back. But on Sunday, AD Charlie Cobb reminded Moore of a conversation they allegedly had last year, when the two agreed that 2012 would be Moore’s final season. At least, that’s Cobb’s version.
Moore must have been like the kid whose parents tell him, “That’s it, this is the last time and I mean it.” Apparently, like that kid, he didn’t believe it until it was too late.
It’s a messy end to a tenure that deserved better. App State won three national titles and 10 SoCon championships during his 24 years, and of course knocked off Michigan in the upset heard around the world. He proved he was open to change after some mediocre seasons from 2002-04, switching to a spread offense and recruiting quarterbacks like Richie Williams, Armanti Edwards and Jamal Jackson. That led to a run of six straight seasons with 10+ plus wins, and national titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
There have been some off-field situations at App State in recent years, and when Western Carolina raided the Mountaineers’ staff in the off-season, it was a sign of uncertainty in Boone. Moore also has never seemed enthusiastic about App State’s plans to move up to FBS, either.
Meanwhile, heir apparent Scott Satterfield, a former App QB, is the interim coach and the odds-on favorite to take over the reins, though some think USC line coach Shawn Elliott, a former App player and coach, has a shot.
App State should be in good shape for next season, regardless of the coach. Jamal Jackson and freshman receiver phenom Sean Price are due back, along with most of a young offensive line. As for the Mountaineers’ future in the Sun Belt, or some other FBS outpost, I haven’t a clue.
But I will miss Coach Moore’s Citadel story. A little.