In the FCS Huddle: Appalachian State's upset feels like yesterday
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
(Sports Network) - If it feels like yesterday, pinch yourself, Appalachian State football fans.
Indeed, the ecstasy doesn't fade away.
The five-year anniversary of App State's 34-32 triumph at the University of Michigan on Sept. 1, 2007 in Ann Arbor - considered one of the biggest upsets in college football history, if not American sports - is fast approaching.
During a conference call Thursday morning, Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore was laughing about how people in Boone, N.C., don't realize how much time has passed since that humid Saturday afternoon at the Big House, and are still celebrating the game like it happened yesterday.
You'll have to pardon Moore if he gets to sharing in the feeling every time he walks into his office. He stares straight ahead at a series of four framed photographs on the wall.
The 73-year-old has built a career of coaching teams to victory - 207 in 23 seasons at App State and 234 in 30 overall seasons. But on Thursday, it was evident he would have been a pretty mean play-by-play announcer had he taken his career in that direction.
Moore started with the top photo on the wall, Corey Lynch blocking Michigan's potential game-winning field goal attempt in the final seconds.
"You can actually see the gold M on the Michigan ball," Moore says, delighting to the memory.
Then there's the photo right below the game-saving block, this one showing Lynch running with the ball down the Michigan sideline while the game clock expired.
"The whole crowd, I mean it's just a sea of yellow," Moore depicts the scene, "but people have got both hands up on the side of their head."
Then there's the largest photo, the one of a walk-on, Nic Cardwell, kneeling in the middle of the field after the upset and leading many of his teammates in a prayer.
"Our players started a tradition that's still going on here," Moore says, "reading II Samuel 22, about preparing to go to battle. Nic (now ASU's tight ends coach) was the first guy that walked around the locker room reading that Scripture."
Finally, to the right is the photo of Julian Rauch, kicking the decisive points of the game on a 24-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining. It's the only one of the four photos to have an inscription of the final score.
"We talk so much about (Lynch's) block and everything," Moore points out, "that we've forgotten that picture."
Well, not necessarily, coach. Nobody connected with the Mountaineers program lets a single play from that game slip away.
And it funny how it's an upset that is hard to rank in the historical context of ASU lore.
It marked the first time an FCS (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) program beat a nationally ranked FBS school, and it's still the highest-ranked upset as Michigan entered the game at No. 5 in the country (since then, James Madison won at then-No. 13 Virginia Tech early in the 2010 season).
But for the Mountaineers, the game occurred in the midst of their three straight national championships - they invaded Michigan Stadium as the two- time defending champs and went on to complete the 2007 season with a three- peat behind quarterback Armanti Edwards and a dynamite lineup of talented players.
So it's impossible for Moore to separate the importance of the one event from the other three.
"This has been one of the questions that I get asked a lot," he said, "which means more, the national championship (run) or beating Michigan. Well, it's kind of a double-edged sword, they both are huge. You play to win the championship, but you can't forget what a great day that was at Michigan."
Moore usually doesn't get this way, but in the negotiations leading up to the scheduling of Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, he was anxious.
The game was on in negotiations. Then the game was off. Then the game might be on again.
And Moore wanted to play it in the worst way.
"In our division, a lot of people refer to them as 'money' games," he said. "Who's your money game this year? And that was the case with Michigan, with the one exception. Every once in awhile I'll stumble into and say something that's got some meaning to it. And I told our people, it is not a money game. I said it is an 'opportunity' game. I said it will be a one-shot, once-in-a- lifetime deal to go up there and play.
"This is when we were still negotiating. I said, 'Whatever they ask, do it.'"
On Sept. 1, Appalachian State will celebrate the five-year anniversary of the upset by opening its 2012 season at East Carolina University. It will be another "opportunity" to take down an FBS opponent.
Of course, playing a Conference USA team is not quite like taking on the winningest program in college football history.
But Appalachian State will get another chance to play Michigan - or is it Michigan will get another shot at beating the Mountaineers? - when the two teams meet again in the Big House to open the 2014 season.
"It's a great place to go play," Moore said.
Appalachian State knows that all too well.
08/16 20:54:05 ET