Mal Moore – 1939 – 2013 – A life to celebrate
Mal Moore – Alabama’s Man Behind the Scenes Will Always be in the Forefront
By: Larry Burton
Mal Moore had a different way of looking at things than most men. He lived a life of putting other people and other institutions ahead of his own ambitions. He lived a life of toiling to prepare those around him for greatness, making those he worked for and worked with shine, letting others have the spotlight.
His was a life born of selflessness. As one of seven children in a rural farm, there wasn’t a lot to go around. Everybody shared, everybody worked and nobody was special.
At least around the family table.
But Moore had something special. Those years of working on a farm helped him build muscles, his focus made him a good student and his ambition made him seek an opportunity to get into a good college. Mal needed to use his wits and skill to parlay them into a scholarship as a hot shot quarterback and maybe ride that to bigger and better things down the road.
But Moore’s time at Alabama was not about being a star, that was a time when Alabama’s quarterbacking duties were filled by legends to be. Pat Trammel and Joe Namath may have kept Moore from achieving stardom, but not from earning his degree and certainly not from learning all he could from not only great quarterbacks, but from great coaches too, mainly coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Bryant knew that Moore was a cerebral player and figured he could also be a pretty smart coach as well, so Moore started the second part of his career.
As a coach, Moore saw success helping both coaches Bryant and Stallings win national championships, but more than that, Moore helped bring in and build the men that made those things happen. As an assistant coach and coordinator, Mal helped bring seven championships to his beloved school. Yet he was always in the shadows, letting the others get the spotlight and the bulk of the credit. Though that’s how it’s supposed to be, it’s not always the case, but it was always Mal’s way.
I asked Moore once in an interview if he regretted never getting to try his hand as a head coach and he said he was content to part of something as bringing championships to Alabama and nothing could have brought him more joy and satisfaction.
As an administrator, Moore’s time at Alabama will not be remembered as the building years, the record fund raising years or the years that brought our facilities from adequate to the envy of the rest of college football. No once again, Moore takes a step back, just into the shadows and let this be known as the Nick Saban era.
And that was just fine with Mal.
Mal told me with a great smile the story of trying so hard to get Saban in the Alabama fold, how he sat in a car around the corner from Saban’s house in south Florida and refused to leave without him.
“This is Alabama and I knew we were going to win with whatever coach we brought in, but obviously, it was going to be an easier road to go down with Coach Saban than anyone else and I just wasn’t going to take no for an answer.” Mal told me.
And very few people could say no to Moore. Not coaching candidates, not people he sought donations from and no one else who was asked to join Moore in helping move the university forward. People were loyal to Mal because he was loyal to them.
Moore’s life and legacy was all about serving. He never minded not being first and in the brightest spotlight, his was life of helping others achieve their goals and dreams.
There are no statues to the man who has more national championship rings than anyone in Alabama history, though there is a rather imposing building with his name adorned on the front of it.
Years from now, many file into Bryant Denny Stadium to watch a game without knowing that it was Moore who raised the funds to get that stadium where it is today, or what contributions he provided are many of the reasons the Tide will still be successful. But as long as the Crimson Tide is enjoying that success, I’m sure that will be OK with Mal.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow Larry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter