May 12, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -
Some don't realize that he was once a backup quarterback out of the small town of Dozier, Alabama.
Others are simply unaware that he was one of the players who helped Paul W. "Bear" Bryant win his first national championship in 1961.
But Saturday night, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame will take a major step in making sure that people never forget Mal Moore, or his accomplishments. After being associated with the University of Alabama for more than 50 yards as a student, assistant coach and administrator, Moore will be recognized and celebrated when the Class of 2012 is finally inducted during a banquet at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel.
Finally, the person who has been associated with more national championships than anyone in Crimson Tide history, nine, will stand besides the former teammates, colleagues and numerous students whom he helped and have already received the highest accolade that their state can offer.
"It's an unbelievable honor for me," Moore said earlier this week at the Crimson Caravan event in Birmingham. "I appreciate the support from people and I look forward to the weekend, but I'm amazed and honored."
Perhaps the only question that should be asked is what took so long as Moore is no stranger to awards. For example, he has so many title rings that he has to keep the national championship collection which includes one as a player, six as a coach and two as an athletic director, in a separate drawer from those representing conference titles.
"I just haven't put them together," he said humbly.
After graduating in 1963 with a degree in sociology, and a year later earned his master's in secondary education, Moore served as Bryant's graduate assistant in 1964, the defensive backfield coach from 1965 to 1970, the quarterbacks coach from 1971 to 1982, and was his offensive coordinator from 1975 to 1982.
During those 22 seasons he accumulated 14 SEC championship rings, not to mention the gifts (watches, etc.) from 28 bowl trips. His 31-year coaching career also included stops at Montana State, Notre Dame and the NFL's St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals.
But his biggest accomplishments have arguably been since taking over as athletic director on November 23, 1999. Not only did Moore help Alabama get through its problems with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, especially after the Committee of Infractions was considering issuing the death penalty to the football program, but in 2007 he hired Nick Saban to guide the football program.
"I've always, from afar, watching his teams play, felt they were extremely well coached football teams," Moore said about Saban last year. "He's won championships, and my following was when he was at LSU. Watching him work at Alabama, recruit, organize and set up, it's been amazing. The effort that he puts into recruiting, that he puts into every aspect of football is a thoroughly thought-through plan and executed. I'm very pleased with the direction that's going."
The Crimson Tide just won its second national championship in three years, and for the first time fans are enjoying titles in two sports at the same time as gymnastics recently captured its sixth, and second straight, NCAA crown.
"Mal has had a fantastic career at the University of Alabama, and other places, but has probably has been as much of a consistent fixture in terms of his input, knowledge and experience as a coach and as a administrator," Saban said. "He certainly has done a marvelous job. I just got asked (by a reporter) about this being one of the better years in Alabama history for all sports. I think he's as much responsible for that as anyone.
"He's probably done as much for Alabama athletics, overall, as anybody."
Maybe more. As AD, Moore instituted a five-year facilities and endowment initiative, the Crimson Tradition Fund, which evolved into a $150 million campaign. In addition to a major overhaul and expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium and Coleman Coliseum, nearly every other athletic facility was upgraded and Bryant Hall was converted into an academic center. The entire project was completed in 2006.
Feeling that the job wasn't quite done, though, Moore orchestrated the $65 million expansion of the South End Zone in time for the 2010 season. By filling in the last upper deck the new seating capacity grew to 101,821, making it one of the largest and desirable home venues in collegiate athletics.
"Mal wanted to finish the stadium this time," chief financial officer Finus Gaston said. "I think he did a great job."
Along the way, the Alabama Board of Trustees renamed the new football building the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility in 2006, and passed a resolution commending Moore "whose vision of elevating the athletic facilities at the Capstone to premier status has resulted in a remarkable outcome that is a source of great pride to the University, the State of Alabama and the nation."
"Mal Moore's leadership in building our athletic programs and facilities has been exemplary. This recognition is richly deserved," school president Dr. Robert E. Witt said at the time.
A year later, he was recognized as the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame's Distinguished Alabama Sportsman in 2007. Since then there have been two trips to the White House, the program's first Heisman Trophy, and a steady stream of other accomplishments, from academic success and the number of players graduating to having the most players selected in the NFL Draft.
Now this. Moore will be inducted with Artis Gilmore (basketball), E.J. Junior (football), Bryan Kirkland (paralympian), Charley Pell (coaching) (posthumously), Andre Tippett (football), Steve Wallace (football), and Dan Washburn (administrator).