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Appalachian State's tale nearly untold

BOONE, N.C. — Jerry Moore spent an estimated 25 nights a month on the road in the offseason at various speaking engagements, discussing Appalachian State's three consecutive national titles, the monumental win over Michigan and his mastery of the spread offense that has produced a potential Heisman candidate.

Moore, 69, can't go anywhere in this tight-knit community without getting congratulatory handshakes and questions about his dynamic quarterback, Armanti Edwards. He can watch the ongoing $50-million stadium renovation project from his office window, and he knows every seat is sold this season.

And if Moore ever gets a free moment, he sometimes chuckles at how just three years ago, he feared he was about to be fired.

"There was a lot of uncertainty, staff-wise whether we'd be retained," Moore said recently. "There were a lot of rumors and a lot of stuff flying around. We had never been bad. We just kind of hit the wall a little bit."

Moore's teams routinely made the playoffs in Division I-AA, which the NCAA now calls the Football Championship Subdivision, but only got past the second round once. Then Moore saw tape of a Utah game and fell in love with the spread offense of coach Urban Meyer, now at Florida.

While his shoestring budget didn't allow for a trip to Salt Lake City, Moore worked through a mutual friend to secure an invite to West Virginia, where Rich Rodriguez ran the same offense.

ASU adopted the offense and went 6-5 in 2004, missing the playoffs. But new athletic director Charlie Cobb decided to retain Moore and his staff.

The rest, as Moore describes it, is a "fairy tale." After starting the 2005 season 3-2, Appalachian went 9-1 the rest of the season — the only loss coming to LSU — and won its first national title.

Moore can talk confidently now after his late-in-life gamble to completely change his style led to unprecedented success.

"Michigan, the championships, you couldn't ask for a better closing toward the end of my coaching career," said Moore, who has three years left on his contract. "I know I'm on a back nine, I just don't know what hole I'm on. But it's certainly been exciting."

CLEMSON: Safety DeAndre McDaniel will be accepted into a program for first-time offenders to resolve charges of aggravated assault and battery stemming from an arrest in June.

GEORGIA: Freshman linebacker Charles White (Achilles' tendon) will miss the season.

N.C. STATE: Coach Tom O'Brien said redshirt freshman Russell Wilson will start at quarterback in the opener at South Carolina over senior Daniel Evans.

NOTRE DAME: Tight end Mike Ragone will miss the season after having surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee.

Basketball

ARKANSAS: The school reported six NCAA violations involving the men's program since February 2007, but none were considered major.

OBITUARY: Larry Hennessy, an All-American at Villanova who went on to play in the NBA, died. He was 79. He died Wednesday in Williamsburg, Va., the school said.

Elsewehere

VOLLEYBALL: Nicki Meyer, a senior at Gainesville Buchholz and daughter of UF football coach Urban Meyer, committed to Georgia Tech. Meyer led Buchholz to the 6A state title last season, beating Durant in the final. She joked with the Gainesville Sun that selecting Georgia Tech was okay because "at least it's in the ACC, not the SEC." She said she also had scholarship offers from USF, Ohio and Utah.

Appalachian State's tale nearly untold 08/22/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2008 10:57pm]
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