Remembering Life Of UA's Mal Moore

A year ago today we lost Mal Moore. He was lost to the world of athletics, where he had emerged as the nation's most respected director of athletics. He was lost to The University of Alabama, where he had served as player, coach, and administrator. He was lost to his community and to his friends and family.

The Mal Moore Athletic Administration building houses primarily Alabama football – the coaches' offices, players' lounge and practice locker room, etc. – but also the training room for all sports and offices for administrators. It also includes impressive displays in its Hall of Champions – the Heisman Trophy won by Mark Ingram and other national player trophies, tribute cases to every national championship team, All-America and Hall of Fame and bowl and conference championship plaques.

But perhaps the most impressive display is in the lobby, under the portrait of Mal Moore. Preserved there is much of the tangible evidence of Mal Moore's contribution to his university. There are bowl watches and gifts (the transistor radio presented to players at the Liberty Bowl following the 1959 season), his awards for recognition as the nation's top athletics director, championship rings in gymnastics, golf, softball.

And 10 football national championship rings.

Mal won his first as a player. Recruited in the first class by legendary Crimson Tide Coach Paul Bryant, Moore was a member of the 1961 team as a back-up quarterback. Later he was an assistant coach and eventually offensive cordinator, earning five more rings under Bryant (1964, 65, 73, 78, and 79) and one under Gene Stallings (1992). In the Nick Saban era, he added rings eight (2009), nine (2011), and ten (2012).

It is understandable that Moore is remembered primarily for his bold pursuit and successful hire of Saban as head football coach. But Mal Moore first laid the groundwork for that with an even bolder plan.

Bama football had been badly crippled by a combination of unprecedented NCAA penalties and unfortunate coaching hires. Crimson Tide followers were characterized as "living in the past," unable to accept the fact that the king of Southern football was dead.

Mal Moore was one of those who would not accept that judgment of others.

Rather than wait until better times, Moore began an ambitious program of fund-raising and facilities improvements, including the rebirth of Bryant Hall as an academic center for all athletes. (A sizeable donation from a former Tide player resulted in the center inside Bryant Hall being named for Bill Battle.)

The most extraordinary result of the Moore facilities campaign was turning Bryant-Denny Stadium into the nation's best football venue with seating for over 100,000. His last major projects were the football weight room just outside his office and adjacent to Bama's indoor practice facility and the Sarah Patterson Plaza of Champions.

In between, he was also providing oversight of expansion and/or development of outstanding facilities, notably the home of Bama men's basketball and gymnastics, Coleman Coliseum. Additionally, there were upgrades for golf, tennis, softball, track & field, rowing, and the renovation of Foster Auditorium for women's basketball and volleyball. And he laid the groundwork for the impending renovation of Sewell-Thomas Baseball Stadium.

Mal Moore's vision extended beyond the playing fields. Perhaps the greatest difficulty he faced was that of the loss of his wife, Charlotte; losing her first to early on-set Alzheimer's and then after many years to death. Moore was instrumental in the extrablishment of Caring Days, a facility serving the needs of those with dementia and which was named in honor of Charlotte and Mal.

In late 2012, Mal developed an illness. He thought it was a cold that he just couldn't seem to get over. As it turned out, it was serious lung disease that required a lung transplant. He was at Duke University Hospital for treatment when he died.

He resigned his position from his sick bed and also urged The University to name Bill Battle as his successor which was done.

Personally and professionally, Mal Moore was a man of passion. It is fortunate for The Capstone that he had the combination of that passion, vision, purposeness, and ability to leave an indelible mark on his university.

A year after his death, there is nothing in this piece that is new. Indeed, these are only some of the highlights. In the chronicles of Alabama athletics, though, the extraordinary contributions of Mal Moore should never be forgotten.

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