Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tribute: Moore's legacy defined by perseverance

As you already know by now, Coach Mal Moore passed away today.  Most college sports fans (note the lack of a limit to "Alabama" or "college football" fans) will remember Coach Moore as one of the most successful Athletic Directors in the history of collegiate existence.  His program won 4 National Championships during the LAST YEAR ALONE - one in the nation's most visible and richest men's sport, and 3 in women's sports.  By anyone who cares to measure such things, Coach Moore was an unbelievable success in his field, and a model by which other athletic departments are studied.

But in the opinion of the Ghostwriter for the Ghost of Coach Bryant... It wasn't the remarkable and well-documented successes, rather it was the colossal failures that defined the man that was Coach Mal Moore.  Below are some notable failures of Coach Moore:

  • The "Dozier Flash" came to Alabama aspiring to be the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide.  Over the course of the next four years,  the Bama depth chart never reflected young Mal any higher than second-string.
  • In December 1982, After serving as a long-time assistant coach under Coach Bryant, ultimately rising to the level of offensive coordinator, Coach Moore was passed over for the Tide's head coach in favor of the head coach for the New York Giants, Coach Ray Perkins.  Coach Moore was not retained on offensive-minded Coach Perkins' staff.
  • After his rehiring in 1990 on Coach Gene Stallings' staff as offensive coordinator, the offense gained just SIX yards rushing against Penn State in a 9-0 shutout loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium.  It was NOT a happy homecoming, as most folks known personally by The Ghostwriter were calling for a change in offensive coordinator.
  • Despite Alabama's school-record 31-game unbeaten streak coming to an end during the 1993 season, Coach Moore was not retained as offensive coordinator following that season.  Most blamed the lack of offensive production on the lack of originality displayed by Coach Moore, despite losing the starting quarterback (Jay Barker) to a knee injury half-way during the year.  Homer Smith was brought in to lead the offensive attack for 1994, and Coach Moore's on-the-field coaching career was over, quite unceremoniously.
  • Athletic Directors came and went while Coach Moore served in an Athletic Administrator role, notably Bob Bockrath and Glenn Tuckett.
  • After finally getting a shot to serve as Athletic Director for the Crimson Tide, more notable failures followed:
    • During August of 1999, Alabama Head Coach Mike Dubose brought scandal to Tuscaloosa when it became known of an affair with his administrative secretary.  Moore stayed loyal to Coach Dubose, despite a media firestorm calling for his dismissal.  Soon thereafter, Alabama lost to Louisiana Tech... before beating Florida once in Gainsville and once in Atlanta for the SEC Championship.  Despite the victories, most media opined that Coach Moore mishandled the Dubose situation, choosing victories instead of morality.
    • The 2000 season brought a 3-8 season and allegations of a major recruiting scandal involving a close personal friend of Coach Moore's, Logan Young of Memphis.  Ultimately, Alabama was penalized heavily for this allegation while members of Alabama's Athletic Department used the situation to spring-board their own careers (notably Gene Marsh).  Once again, many fans and media (notably Paul Finebaum) called for the immediate firing of Coach Moore.
    • Coach Moore hired TCU's Dennis Franchione after a well-publicized search.  Auburn fans referred to him as "Fifth-choice-ione" based on the information leaks during the coaching search.  Alabama fans never became comfortable with that decision, although Coach Fran led the Tide to a 10-win season in 2002 before agreed to leave Tuscaloosa for Texas A&M during the week leading up to the Iron Bowl (and subsequently and deliberately tanking the Iron Bowl).
    • After receiving hours of solicited and unsolicited advice from the father of Bama's future starting quarterback, yet apparently before conducting adequate background checks, Coach Moore hired quarterback-friendly Mike Price from Washington State that December.  By late spring, Coach Price had a reputation around Tuscaloosa as a bar-hopper.  Ultimately, Destiny did him in, and Alabama had to fire him in spectacular fashion in front of a nationally-televised audience and with players pleading for Coach Price to have a "second chance".
    • Given no other options, Coach Moore had to settle for a coordinator from the NFL with no collegiate experience since his playing days at Alabama, Mike Shula.  Despite having a 10-win season in 2005, 2006 produced a 6-6 season and the firing of Mike Shula prior to the Auburn game.  Most believed that Coach Moore was incapable of making a successful coaching hire for the University.
    • In early December 2006, Coach Moore received confirmation from Rich Rodriquez of WVU that he would be the next head coach at Alabama.  Two days later, Rodriquez reconsidered his commitment, and declined the opportunity.  The search was back on.
    • The search lasted over 6 weeks during the most hectic part of the recruiting season, during which time Alabama had virtually no leadership.  Most Alabama media and fans believed that Coach Moore had blown it, again, and that the whole athletic department needed to be evacuated and rebuilt completely.
    • Legend has it that Coach Moore flew to Miami in mid-January alone, without an appointment to see the Dolphins' Head Coach Nick Saban.  Moore was not told "yes" by Coach Saban for at least three long days after meeting with him and staying in South Florida until he was sure he had an answer.
    • Coach Moore offered Coach Saban a contract that drew headlines all across the country as being an example of the culture-problem in college athletics.  $4,000,000 was too much to pay a head coach, or so said the national media.  Again, Coach Moore was to blame.
The Ghostwriter doesn't know of a single example of a person who has persevered through more failures during their careers than Coach Mal Moore, yet the man is heralded today as an Alabama legend on equal with Coach Paul Bryant... and rightfully so.  No one man personified a greater dedication, humility, grace and love for his University than Coach Mal Moore.  It is The Ghostwriter's opinion that these highly-publicized failures are what has made Coach Mal Moore AND the University of Alabama what it is today, without which a lesser man would have simply given up and settled for average.

James 1:2-3 (NASB) says "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance."  The Ghostwriter can't think of a more perfect example of this than Coach Mal Moore.

Today, we celebrate the successes of Coach Moore.  Let us also not forget WHY he, and the organization he led, was so successful.
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1 comment:

Thank you for your opinion.