It should have been a touching reunion when Lovie Smith randomly bumped into his Pop Warner coach at an airportĀ last month, but instead it was an awkward exchange as the Bears coach grilled his former leader for football advice.

“Well if it isn’t good old Coach Joe,” Smith said after seeing retired Big Sandy (Texas) Pop Warner coach Joe Moore at DFW Airport. “It’s probably been 15 years. Mind if we catch up a bit?”

Rather than trade updates of each other’s lives, Smith immediately began asking his former coach football questions.

“Do you think my DBs still have the speed to play in the Cover 2?” asked Smith. “Peanut Tillman doesn’t move like he used to.”

Coach Moore shrugged, saying only “Ya can’t teach speed Lovie.”

Despite Moore being nearly 80 and having been retired for a decade, Smith pressed on.

“What’s the best way to express confidence in a struggling player?” asked Smith. “In the past I would say things like ‘Rex is our quarterback’ with a blank look in my eyes, but now I wonder if there’s a better way to handle situations like that.”

Again, Moore was at a loss, but Smith took out a notebook and diligently wrote down every word Moore said.

“Okay, that makes sense,” said Lovie after Moore told him that fundamentals are key at any level in football. “So that would mean that it’s bad when our quarterback throws into triple coverage?”

Smith came away from the exchange rejuvenated.

“Coach Moore told me the best players are the one who’ve justĀ hit puberty.” said Smith. “I’ll have to keep that in mind.”

From the August 2010 issue by Brad Zibung. Click here to subscribe today!