Jerry Moore was able to join an elite class among his Division I college football coaching brethren last Saturday in Appalachian State's 58-6 mauling of North Carolina A&T. Moore became just the 16th coach in NCAA Division I college football history to reach 200 victories in a career at a single institution.
Moore, already the SoCon's all-time winningest head coach, came to the High Country of Boone, N.C., in 1989 to take over a school he didn't know all that much about. Moore may not have known much about Appalachian State when he was contacted about the job, though he did know football.
The irony to the whole story is that 18 years later it would be Moore that made Appalachian State a household name with a 32-31 win at No. 5 Michigan to open the 2007 season. While that will likely be the win that defines Moore's career even more than three national titles, he would be the first to tell you that wins and losses are not what keeps him happy atop the mountain in Boone.
For Moore, it has been a special two-plus decades in the High Country, and it has been more about the people that have surrounded him and the program, rather than the three national titles or the nine Southern Conference titles he has led the Apps to in his 22 previous seasons at the helm.
It has been especially rewarding for the Bonham, Texas native to be able to enjoy his time in Boone with so many familiar faces on the sidelines, creating a family-like atmosphere.
Appalachian is one of those places former players have trouble leaving as a result of so many great memories, and Moore has had many of his former coaches stay on and become successful coaches on the ASU sidelines. It's a testament to his belief in the complete person and their leadership skills, rather than just their worth as a football player for four years.
One of Moore's most memorable teams was the 1995 squad, which became the first team in the North Carolina state history to finish a campaign unblemished, as the Mountaineers posted a perfect 11-0 regular-season mark. Two of the players that were key cogs in helping the Apps establish that milestone were quarterback Scott Satterfield and defensive end Shawn Elliott.
Satterfield and Elliott were two players that perhaps personified the type players Moore has made into successful players, and then successful people. Satterfield, Appalachian's option quarterback from 1992-95, was a part of Moore's lone losing season at the helm of the program, as he was a part of the 1993 squad that finished 4-7.
However, after struggling in his first season as a starter under center, he would go on to lead the Mountaineers to 21 victories in his final two seasons. In an Oct. 21 showdown with No. 3 Marshall in Huntington during the '95 season, Satterfield was playing with a gimpy ankle and knee, but he managed to play through the pain and scored the game-winning TD for Moore on a four-yard TD to give the Mountaineers the 10-3 win.
Making the play even more difficult was the fact that Satterfield was almost tripped at about the 2-yard line, but he managed to keep his balance and fall into the end zone for the score. It was that kind of effort that Moore's players have given for him throughout the years, which is a direct reflection of how much respect his players have for their head coach over the years.
Elliott, a native of Camden, S.C, was the exact same type player on the defensive side of the ball for Moore's Mountaineers during his career. Though he wasn't the strongest or fastest player, he certainly was one of the toughest and had great heart.
Elliott had to battle back from a season-ending injury in 1993, which required a medical redshirt, though he helped ASU to two SoCon titles and became the first Mountaineer football player to participate in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs in four separate seasons (1991, '92, '94 and '95).
The intangibles, as they say, won't show up on the stats sheet, but one thing that did for both and Elliott were victories. Elliott's four seasons saw the Mountaineers post a 36-14 record, while Satterfield would help lead the Apps to a 32-17 record in his four seasons. No doubt the heart of players like Satterfield and Elliott were the most important aspects the duo developed under Moore, as opposed anything they learned schematically or fundamentally.
The two entered the program as unheralded players, but by the time Moore had finished coaching them, they would be local heroes to the rabid ASU fanbase. Perhaps that's why the cagey, veteran head coach decided to keep the duo in the High Country and close by after their playing days had concluded.
After graduating in 1996, Satterfield would return to the ASU sidelines two years later. Satterfield would start out coaching the ASU wide receivers in 1998 before finishing his nine seasons in the High Country as the co-Offensive coordinator, and though he did not carry the official title as ASU's offensive coordinator, his influence on the offense was huge.
It would be Satterfield who would eventually leave the High Country to join the Toledo coaching staff in 2009, and now Satterfield has become one of the hottest up-and-coming offensive coordinators in the FBS, serving in that role at Florida International, where he is now in his second season in Miami. Currently, the Panthers are 2-0 on the young 2011 season.
Like Satterfield, Elliott decided to stay with the Appalachian State football program and coach Moore after his graduation in 1996. Elliott would begin his coaching career on the ASU sidelines as a defensive assistant in 1997 before moving over to the offensive side of the ball three years later as the tight ends coach. Eventually, Elliott would take over the reins as the offensive line coach for the Apps in 2001.
After a 7-4 2003 season, Moore and staff began to feel a little bit of heat after missing out on the playoffs, and it would be Moore, a person not known for making big changes or taking many chances, that would make the gutsiest call of his career.
It would be Elliott and Satterfield that ultimately convince Moore to transition from the I-formation, power ground attack to the spread offense in 2004. That decision alone should show the trust, respect and relationship that Moore has surrounded himself with during his time in Boone.
It would be a decision that changed the fate of a program that had always been on the brink of a national title in past years. The trio would travel to West Virginia and scout Rich Rodriguez's spread-option attack in the spring of 2004. Though the Apps finished just 6-5 in 2004 and with the flame getting a little warmer for Moore and his staff, the staff gained a certain measure of confidence going forward.
Despite games against two FBS foes in 2005, Moore would not only save his job, he would make history, leading ASU to a SoCon title and to the school's first national title, as the Mountaineers defeated Northern Iowa 21-16 in Chattanooga to clinch the school's first national crown in any sport.
Like Satterfield, Elliott would eventually receive an offer that was tough to turn down after spending 12 seasons on the sidelines as an assistant coach for the Apps. Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks came calling.
The Gamecocks needed an offensive line coach after Eric Wolford left after only one season to become the head coach at Youngstown State. Given ASU's success running the spread, it was an easy call for Spurrier to make. Since Elliott has joined the Gamecocks staff, South Carolina has posted an 11-4 record, a top 10 ranking and is in the middle of its most successful era as a football program.
The most special part for Moore has been the fact that he has been able to enjoy the ride with a person even closer to his heart than Elliott or Satterfield, who have now moved on to even greater successes. That person is not only a part of the "Appalachian Family," but also is a part of Moore's biological family, as his son, Chris Moore, is now in his 13th season with the staff.
Chris Moore, a 1999 graduate of Appalachian State University, began his coaching career under his father in 1995 as a student assistant before joining the staff as a full-time employee in 1999 as a defensive assistant. Moore would coach the Mountaineer linebackers from 2001-04 before drawing the assignment of coaching the ASU running backs upon the Apps transition to the spread offense in 2004.
Satterfield, Elliott and his son, Chris, are just three of several people with a strong association to Appalachian that Moore has been able to build his rock solid foundation on since 1989. That family has also included John Wiley (1989-90, 1993-2009), who is now the defensive coordinator at East Carolina, and still includes Jay Sutton (1997-present), who was an All-American kicker for Moore and is now the associate director of athletics.
After his 200th win at ASU last Saturday, Moore was asked about what it meant to accomplish such a milestone and do it at one school. His reply was simple, yet poignant. As tears seemed to well up in his eyes, a humble Moore described how much of a blessing it was to have been surrounded by such good people throughout his career in the High Country. He said the greatest sense of joy was being able to do it with his son, Chris, alongside him for much of that time.
Certainly Moore couldn't have envisioned the miracles and triumphs when he was contacted some 23 years ago by the late Jim Garner (former Appalachian State athletic director) about the position, but jumped at a chance to coach football again.
Moore, who had experienced much heartbreak and many tears after being fired at Texas Tech in 1985, proved that good things do sometimes happen to good people. A devout Christian who never turns down an opportunity to speak about his relationship with Jesus, Moore certainly seems to be reaping the rewards of that familial relationship with his "Heavenly Father" during his tenure at Appalachian State.
Moore has never strayed far from his what he believes and the people he believes in, and the character of his players have been a far greater part of the success he has had, rather than the athletic attributes they have been touted for as recruits. For Moore, it's about recruited family members not football players. That philosophy is certainly refreshing considering much of what sours Division I college football in the current age.