When I was first getting started at the Standard, Rob Nunley was gracious enough to give me lots of advice.
One tip I vividly recall came near the end of the first football season I covered. Rob wondered if I had, “asked the question yet?”
The question, which is common around Warren County football, was if the coach at the time was coming back the next season. It’s a relevant question almost every November.
Last November, I didn’t ask Tom Moore that question. I didn’t think it was warranted at the time. Three months later, I called him because I had heard rumblings he was making a move.
When I asked the question, he confirmed the rumors I was hearing.
I wish coach Moore all the best in his future gig. He never set the world on fire in Warren County, but he willingly took over a program mired in 25 years of losing that was embarking on a new, brutal schedule. Moore did the best he could under the circumstances.
Moore’s honesty about the Pioneers’ plight may have rubbed some people the wrong way, but I found it refreshing. He was just enough of a cheerleader in front of his team to not squash their confidence, all while being realistic about what success in Warren County really was.
He was like a chemist measuring everything in minor details. Sometimes it was a good game of team tackling. Other times, he celebrated when the offensive line created push.
It could be something as small as one player winning one rep against a clearly superior opponent. That’s how Moore was wired to deal with what most knew was coming – lots of losing.
Being the head coach, Moore was always going to be the target of criticism. Some may have even been warranted at times, though I always thought Moore was the right man for the job.
He won me over when I returned to the sports desk in 2016 and took in my first football game from the sideline in two years.
Midway through the third quarter of a blowout – pick one, I don’t recall which – the Pioneers didn’t do something right. In particular, an offensive lineman really messed up.
One coach lost it. He was yelling immediately at the kid. The player didn’t like that, and began yelling back at the coach.
Moore called a timeout and stopped the argument in its tracks. He started with his assistant.
I can’t recall the exact words, but the gist was this. Yes, the coach was right about the kid making the mistake. But Moore told him there was no sense in belaboring it, they needed the kid to be confident he wouldn’t make it again.
He instilled a calm on the sideline.
Nothing about Warren County football seems calm. It’s usually surrounded by calamity – case No. 1 being the colossal mistake by the administration in the final moments in November when they reversed course on an independent schedule.
If there was one guy who seemed like he could handle any situation, it was Moore. And now he’s gone.