Moore's Gamble Paid Off

Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore took a big gamble in trying to lure Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins, but his gamble paid off on Wednesday morning when Saban agreed to accept the job with the Crimson Tide.

"I was out on the gang plank, so to speak, or on thin ice," Moore said, "but I felt like I had to do this for The University. As I stated a month ago, I wanted to hire a championship caliber coach, and we stuck with that to the end."

Moore first spoke to Saban about the job by telephone on Monday, a day after the Miami Dolphins wrapped up its 6-10 season. The two spoke at length on Monday and Tuesday, but Moore wasn't sure Saban would take the job until the morning the news broke. It was only when Moore went to pick up Saban to bring him to Tuscaloosa that the two first met in person. The rest of their talks were by phone.

"I went to their home the day we left," Moore said. "I talked with them by phone another time, long conversations where we would talk." Moore knew with certainty that Saban was taking the job "about three hours before I picked him up at his home to go to the airport."

Moore didn't put up a false front when asked if he ever had any doubt about landing Saban.

"Oh yeah. Mr. Huizenga, the owner of the Dolphins, is a very successful man," Moore said. "He can close a deal, and he and Nick are very close. But as Nick described it, in his heart he knew he wanted to be in the college ranks. You get in a tough situation, had he not come I think he always would have second-guessed himself, and I felt that. I think he's made the right choice and I think Mr. Huizenga feels the same way, also."

"You second guess yourself on a lot of things," Moore said, "but I wanted to go through with what I said I was going to do."

"I recognized that this was such a crucial hire for this university and this athletic department," Moore said. "I felt like I needed to be close by and on hand, and was. But it was just a feeling that I had, and once I did talk with his wife I felt like I really had a chance."

Saban, who will make a reported $32 million over eight years, is set to become the highest paid coach in college football and the move will undoubtedly escalate coaches' salaries nationwide.

"I just think that this was such a crucial hire for this program," Moore said.

Saban's wife Terry said, "Mal was easy to talk to. He never pressured. I respect that. He always acted like what's good to your family is what is important and that's how Mr. Huizenga was. It was so nice to have two men who were honorable saying, ‘Look, we both want you. What's good for the Sabans?"

Moore said Saban's wife was instrumental in his efforts to bring Saban to Alabama.

"I will always tightly hug her because she gave me, on the phone, encouragement not to give up," Moore said, "because she wanted back in a college community and so did he. I wasn't aware of how strong his wife was for this move."

Moore was roundly criticized in the national media after his offer to West Virginia Coach Rich Rodriguez was rejected. Moore said it was tough to continue after a big-name coach after the Rodriguez rejection, but he didn't give up.

"I realize what I was trying to do and it was a real stretch, but I felt like it was important that we see it through," he said. "I didn't want cut short and give up on it, so we stuck with it."

He said he didn't have time to follow what was being said about his efforts in the search in the media, but joked "I hope if you did something, you have a guilty feeling."

Had Saban decided to stay at Miami, Moore said there were a lot of coaches who contacted him and who would have loved to have the job.

"Very successful coaches, a lot of good coaches, I know," he said. "But I wanted to go the way I said. I wanted to bring someone in here that had won championships. It lucked out that we got a good one."


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