Longtime Alabama AD Mal Moore passes away

Former Alabama athletic director Mal Moore, who played and

coached under Bear Bryant, hired Nick Saban and presided over a

heyday in athletics at his alma mater, has passed away.

The university said the 73-year-old Moore died on Saturday at

Duke University Medical Center. Moore had been in the Durham, N.C.,

hospital since March 13 with pulmonary problems.

The folksy, silver-haired Moore was part of 10 football national

championship teams as a player, coach or administrator in a career

intertwined with three of the Crimson Tide’s most revered coaches –

his old bosses Bryant and Gene Stallings and Saban, who has won

three of the last four national titles.

He played for Bryant’s 1961 national championship team, and Bill

Battle – another member of that team – was hired to replace him two

days after Moore stepped down on March 20. He was to become a

special advisor to Alabama President Judy Bonner.

”The University of Alabama and the world of intercollegiate

athletics have lost a legend, and I have lost a dear friend,”

Battle said in a statement. ”My heart goes out to his family and

close friends in this time of sadness. After a time of grieving, we

can begin to celebrate Mal’s life, as his legacy will last for

generations.”

Moore oversaw an athletic department since 1999 that made more

than $240 million in facilities improvements – including multiple

expansions of Bryant-Denny Stadium – and won national championships

in football, gymnastics, softball and women’s golf in 2011-12.

He hired Saban in January 2007 after flying to south Florida

hoping to lure him from the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

”Mal was truly a special person in every sense of the word,”

the coach said. ”We can talk about all the championships Mal has

been involved with, but I think what will be remembered most was

the man he was. He always put the best interests of others ahead of

his own, he carried himself as a first-class gentleman, and he

helped bring out the best in those around him.

”Mal was an outstanding leader in terms of all he did for

Alabama athletics. Most importantly, he was a great friend to me

and my family. Mal was the number one reason we decided to make the

move to Tuscaloosa.”

The football building and his own memorabilia-covered office

were housed in the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility, named after him

in 2007.

”Coach Moore will be deeply missed,” said Gov. Robert Bentley,

a 1964 Alabama graduate. ”I’ve known Mal for over 30 years and

have always considered him a good friend as well as a good man. He

was devoted to UA athletics, and he will also be remembered for his

dedication to his family. Mal made a positive impact on our entire

state.”

Moore’s biggest claims to fame might have been the hiring of

Saban and his long relationship with Bryant, whom he had hoped to

succeed.

He also helped Bryant switch to the wishbone offense in 1971

”I think my first reaction would be that he will go down in the

annals of the University of Alabama football program as truly one

of the seminal figures that have ever been,” longtime Birmingham

radio talk show host Paul Finebaum said. ”You hear this line

sometimes and it’s perceived as a cliche – but if there was a Mount

Rushmore for Alabama football, I really think coach Moore would be

right next to coach Bryant. I think he was that important.

”I don’t think anybody has affected Alabama football longer

than Mal, when you consider when he got there, what he’s done and

the legacy he leaves behind.”

Finebaum said he introduced Moore at a January event and told

Moore: ”Mal, you’re going to be remembered as the man who hired

Nick Saban.”

”He just laughed and broke out in that toothy grin,” Finebaum

said. ”He loved that. He loved nothing more than the University of

Alabama.”

Moore was a freshman on Bryant’s first Alabama team in 1958 then

spent 22 seasons as a coach, including a stint with Stallings for

the NFL’s Cardinals in St. Louis and Phoenix.

He joined Bryant as a graduate assistant in 1964 and coached

both the secondary and quarterbacks before becoming the Tide’s

first offensive coordinator in 1975. He was also Stallings’

offensive coordinator from 1990-93 in a tenure that included the

1992 national championship.

”You’ve got to realize he’s got 10 national championship

rings,” Stallings said. ”Not many people have done that. He was

responsible for hiring Coach Saban, which obviously has really made

a difference in the program. All of those great facilities – the

expansion on the stadium, the (luxury) boxes, the expansion of the

complex – fell under his responsibility.

”Coach Bryant was very fond of Mal Moore. In fact, he used to

tell me from time to time, `I’m telling you, Mal Moore is as good a

football coach as you are.’ He had great respect for Mal.”

Moore interviewed to take over the program after Bryant retired

in 1982 but was passed over in favor of New York Giants coach Ray

Perkins. That left Moore thinking about getting out of the

profession before Notre Dame’s Gerry Faust hired him to coach

running backs.

”At the time, I kind of felt like a man without a country,”

Moore said in a December 2012 interview ahead of the BCS

championship game with the Fighting Irish. ”I was in a strange

position that I’d never been in before.”

His wife of 41 years, the former Charlotte Davis, passed away

after a long illness in 2010. His daughter, Heather Cook, lives in

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said Moore ”served his alma

mater with grace and dignity.”

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive remembered Moore

similarly.

”It was with great sadness that we learned our dear friend Mal

Moore passed away this morning,” Slive said. ”Mal was a dignified

and quiet man, always charming, gracious, thoughtful and caring.

Mal had a wonderful sense of humor and was a great storyteller,

while at all times a man of abiding humility. He was a loving and

devoted husband, father and grandfather. He will be missed by all

of us.”

Several current Tide players responded to the news of Moore’s

passing on social media.

”Coach Mal Moore will be missed so much,” quarterback AJ

McCarron said on his Twitter page. ”I love you coach & know

you will be watching over us from above. We will always remember

you (hash)loveU”.

Safety Vinnie Sunseri posted on Twitter: ”Thank you for

everything you’ve done for this entire University Coach Moore your

a inspiration to us all and even more u were a great man!”