'He wants nothing but the best for us'

With several radio hosts and not a few football fans calling for Athletics Director Mal Moore's resignation, it's interesting to note the opinion of the Tide players.

The argument against Alabama's athletics director is really fairly simple. Since both his recent coaching hires (Dennis Franchione and Mike Price) ended badly, it must somehow by Coach Moore's fault. Therefore, he should resign.

Quarterback Spencer Pennington disagrees. "We definitely trust (Coach Moore)," Pennington said. "We have all the confidence in the world that he'll find us a good coach. To be honest with you, I think he found us a great coach last time."

Spencer Pennington

One radio talking head poked his microphone in Moore's face last Monday, asking "When are you going to take responsibility for what happened?"

Junior Evan Mathis has an answer. "I don't think Coach Moore has made any mistakes in who he picked for coaches. None of this had anything to do with the choices that Coach Moore has made. He looks into people's backgrounds as much as he can and makes the best decision that he can. Of course the only thing he would have heard about Coach Price was how great integrity he had. Even with Coach Fran, he was a good coach. (Franchione's leaving) wasn't something Coach Moore could have predicted."

"I thought (Coach Moore) did a good job hiring Coach Fran and Coach Price," cornerback Charlie Peprah said in support of Mathis' statement. "A couple of things just didn't work out. The time (Moore) had to work with and the situations he's had to deal with, I think he's done a good job."

Tight end Donald Clarke agreed. "The team is comfortable with (Coach Moore). We believe he made good decisions the last two times."

Shown standing with the artist's renderings for the capital improvements, Mal Moore has been the driving force behind the campaign from the beginning.

A legacy player who grew up immersed in Alabama football, Lance Taylor understands Moore's background better than most. After all, Moore was an offensive assistant for Coach Bryant when James Taylor (Lance's dad) played for the Tide.

"The things that happened the past two weeks were not Mal Moore's fault," Lance Taylor said. "We trust Mal Moore. He'll hire the best man for the job. I think that's what he did when he hired Coach Fran and when he hired Coach Price. In our opinion, Coach Price was the best man in the nation to coach us, and we felt like Coach Moore did a good job bringing him and the staff in here. We have to trust him and who he's going to bring in. That's solely his decision."

Moore's Crimson Tide roots are as deep as they come. As a player in 1961, Moore was a member of Bryant's first national championship team. He's quick to point out that he holds the dubious honor of being first string quarterback for all of two days in the fall of 1962--the year that a youngster named Joe Namath debuted in Crimson. And of course Moore put in 23 years as an assistant coach for Alabama, helping the Tide to 14 SEC titles and six national championships.

"I heard a guy on television say that there is not a single person that cares more about Alabama than Mal Moore does, and I'd have to second that," sophomore tight end Clint Johnston said. "Coach Moore has been through a lot since he's been athletics director. He's always been there for the players and kept us informed. After Coach Price was fired he gave us his word that it would work out. He told us then that he was going bust his rear end to get somebody in here."

Lance Taylor

In addition to losing their coach, the players have noted the drumbeat of criticism directed Moore's way. But that doesn't mean they agree with it.

"I know Coach Moore is hurting right now," Lance Taylor said. "Coach Fran left on his own accord; that was not Mal Moore's fault. The past week he's taken almost as much criticism as Coach Price did--and he didn't commit the acts. A lot of people are criticizing him right now, and I know he's under a lot of pressure, but the team definitely trusts him.

"I have the utmost respect for Mal Moore. He absolutely loves this university. He wants nothing but the best for us."


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