Joe Medley: At least Moore’s health gave him time to restore Tide’s in sports
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Mar 21, 2013 | 4789 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TUSCALOOSA — Mal Moore has shown immense capacity for bright-side thinking through his iconic, nearly 50-year run as a football player, coach and athletics director at Alabama.

Think about it. He was among the first recruits to buy into a coach named Bear Bryant at Alabama.

When Bryant wanted to switch to the wishbone with non-wishbone players, Moore was the quarterbacks coach who saluted and helped make it happen.

When Nick Saban said no repeatedly and emphatically, Moore was the athletics director who wouldn’t give up on hiring the football coach he knew would restore his beloved Crimson Tide to dominance.

So, just hours removed from the sad news that Moore, 73, will relinquish his job for health reasons and scale back into an emeritus-like role, it’s only appropriate to treat the news as bright-siders.

For starters, Moore could not have left Alabama athletics better positioned to hire his replacement. Who wouldn’t want to preside over the brand that includes Saban and three of the last four national championships in football?

Alabama is back in Bryant-like times, and an athletics director can make lots happen with such energized fans and donors.

Precisely because of that, there’s justice in the timing of Moore’s decision. Age and health will eventually have their say on all who live a normal life span, and it’s only fair to a man who so loves the athletics program he has led since 1999 that age and health waited for high Tide.

High Tide is what Moore knew for so many years as a player and coach, and high Tide is what he left, thanks largely to the bright-side thinking that caused him to get on that plane to Miami and bring back Saban.

Sure, the cynic will say it was desperation. Razor-on-wrist Alabama fans had suffered 10 years of coaching turmoil, NCAA sanctions and their reaching effects. They had just suffered the indignity of Rich Rodriquez coming, then not coming.

Meanwhile, Moore had been the AD who trusted Dennis Franchione. Then Moore hired Mike Price, who never coached a game at Alabama before being fired amid scandal.

Moore then hired and ultimately fired Mike Shula.

After all of that, Alabama was hurting and so needed Nick Saban to say yes. So did Moore.

What if Moore’s health had taken a bad turn during those stressful years? What if Alabama fans were lamenting the program he left instead of lamenting that he must now leave it to someone else?

That wouldn’t be fair to a man who can legitimately claim connection to more rings than he has fingers, all sports factored in.

It wouldn’t be fair to a man who poured decades of love, dignity, competence and then more love into The Capstone.

Mal Moore got on that plane and came back with Nick Saban. Bryant-like times, the kind Moore lived as a player and coach, came back to Alabama.

In one way, better-than-Bryant-like times came. Alabama was 1-5 against hated Notre Dame but won its last national title on Moore’s watch as AD by drubbing the Fighting Irish 42-14.

So here’s sending positive thoughts that a scaled-back role will prove restorative to a fine gentleman’s health, and here’s noting the bright side in sad news. At least Moore’s health gave him the years to leave Alabama athletics every bit as good as he found it, if not better.

Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.

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