Moore Vindicated

They should form two lines at the airport whenever Nick Saban and Mal Moore arrive on their way to Tuscaloosa: one line to welcome the new coach, and another line for the people who need to apologize to Mal Moore.

The apology line would surely be the longest of the two. Since firing Mike Shula in late November, Moore has been hammered with criticism from nearly every direction. Don Shula took a cheap shot at him during a Monday Night Football sideline interview with Michelle Tafoya for firing his son.

Bill Curry was on ESPNews Wednesday morning talking about how the athletics director and coach had no power at Alabama (instead, he said, it was a "mafia" of folks he couldn't quite name).

ESPN incessantly reported that Alabama had been flatly turned down by a whole host of coaches and acted like the job just might go vacant because no one wanted it. They went so far as to list South Florida's Jim Leavitt among one of the names who had turned Alabama down. To listen to people like Joe Theisman tell it, Alabama was a coach's apocalypse.

Fans on message boards reflect this, saying that Moore was to blame when Rich Rodriguez was offered the Alabama job, had tacitly accepted, at least through his agent, and then pulled out at the last second. Media from all around have even given fans without Internet hook-ups the impression that Moore is a walking disaster.

Rodriguez coming to the realization that he didn't want the job before he officially accepted it rather than afterwards (like Fran surely did) turned out to be a blessing, but masses called for Moore's head afterwards.

And it seems like ages ago that there was chatter about Moore being involved in botching a potential deal with Steve Spurrier.

No one, it seemed, wanted to give the athletics director the same courtesy he gave the coach – waiting until the end of the season (in Moore's case the end of the coaching seach) – to render a verdict on the job performance. So, evaluate him now, and evaluate him fairly.

This is the nature of his position, of course, especially after making the controversial decision to fire Mike Shula after coaching just four seasons at Alabama. Moore made the decision in consultation with University President, members of the board of trustees and I'm sure other trusted advisors, but it was on his shoulders and it was one of the boldest moves made at the University of Alabama in years.

Moore wouldn't talk to the media during the search, and maybe that worked to his detriment in the light of public perception leading up to the hire. Most people these days constantly work back channels to get their side of the story out. Moore believed he was going to hire a dynamite coach from day one of this search, but he didn't play the media positioning game.

There's nothing wrong with having your side of the story told, and there were people following this search who wish Moore would have done so, either directly or indirectly. Had the Saban pursuit gone south he certainly would have been criticized sharply for not doing the semantics dance. But that's not how he operates, and in doing so, Moore maintained honesty, dignity and respect throughout the process.


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