Mal Moore addresses crowd Tuesday at CCB

Published 1:54 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Moore, left, shakes the hand of Brewton's own Walter Lewis Tuesday night before the alumni meeting

Alumni and friends of the Escambia County chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni Association packed the Country Club of Brewton Tuesday night to hear director of UA athletics Mal Moore speak.
Moore’s service to the University of Alabama began more than 50 years ago as he joined the football team as a scholarship player for coach Paul “Bear” Bryant from 1958-1962. Moore is the only individual connected with the Crimson Tide program to be part of eight national championship teams (1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, and 2009). The first came as a player with the next six during his coaching career and the most recent as AD.
Moore, as a player and coach, was part of 14 SEC championships and 27 bowl trips. Also, under his leadership as AD, Moore’s teams have produced three national championships—the football championship in 2009 and gymnastic championships in 2002 and 2011.
Other teams at Alabama under Moore have won numerous titles and SEC tournament titles.
Since becoming AD in 1999 at the University of Alabama, Moore has overseen more than $200 million of capital improvements to athletic facilities.
Moore graduated from UA in 1963 with an undergraduate degree in Sociology and later in 1964 was awarded his Master’s Degree in Secondary Education.
Roger Chapman introduced Moore as the speaker and said the two had something in common.
“When I went to Alabama as an 18-year-old freshman, I was afraid of coach Bryant,” Chapman said. “Mal comforted me then because he was a 40-year-old man who was afraid of coach Bryant. I think there is a lot of truth in that Mal. Without a shadow of doubt, Mal’s accomplishments are unequal to anybody at the University of Alabama. His leadership, in my opinion, was crucial during some challenging times at Alabama and I am not sure we would have weathered those storms with his leadership of Mal M. Moore. The university paid tribute to him when they named the athletic complex after him. I think that was a good deed.”
Moore talked to those in attendance on enrollment figures, the university, the recent tornado, and hit on all sports teams on campus and talked about the 2011 football team and head coach Nick Saban.
“I have been to several cities across the nation and one recently in Chicago where they had a place called ‘The Houndstooth,’” Moore said. “That just goes to show you the love people have everywhere for the University of Alabama. We have a great president in Dr. Robert Whitt. We have great coaches in football and in all our sports. You buy your tickets to games and you are there. What a university. We have to value our university.”
Moore said the school is the fastest growing university in America.
“Last year there were 128 merit national scholars in the freshman class,” Moore said. “They could go anywhere they want for school, but they are choosing the University of Alabama. We are highly ranked in the universities that are attracting national merit scholars. That says a lot for our university.”
Moore said the university has broken enrollment record for five straight years.
“Students from all over America are coming to Alabama because of the beauty of the campus, the strength of the academics, and they like to be at a university that has a good football program. I think Dr. Witt uses the athletic department to grow the number of students. He is very supportive as our president and that is not true at all universities. One thing that impresses me is how the university recruits students. Dr. Whitt says that if a head football coach can sit by a phone and call a great football player or quarterback to play football, I can call them to come be a student. He works at that just like our football coach.”
Moore mentioned students coming for a wealthy part of Texas to attend Alabama.
“We had 31 seniors come from Highland Park High School in Texas,” Moore said. “You would like to just have 31 from Texas, moreless 31 from one high school. The year before that, Memorial High School in Houston, the top high school in Houston, we had 19 seniors come to Alabama. The next year we get the No. 1 golfer in the nation from the same high school. It just goes hand-in-hand.”

Moore said the tornado that hit the Tuscaloosa area in April was “stunning.”
“I don’t know if you have been there or you saw it,” Moore said. “I know you have probably saw it on TV, but whatever you imagine, it was worse. It was a terrible thing that happened to Tuscaloosa. The amazing thing though was how our students responded and how the players and former players responded. Everyone jumped in to help.”
Moore added that the progress that has been made in Tuscaloosa is unbelievable.
“FEMA workers there told us the damage done in Tuscaloosa was three times the damage of Katrina that hit New Orleans,” Moore said. “That is how massive it was. There are probably four to six more months of debris cleanup. It is making great progress and we are rebuilding.”
Moore said he thanks God the university was spared.
“I was in my office when the tornado was coming and I thought it was coming to the stadium,” Moore said. “I then thought it was coming to the back of Coleman Coliseum. It went by and I saw the huge back cloud behind the coliseum. We were OK on campus, but if you go a mile over, the damage is stunning. We were very fortunate. If it would have hit campus, I think it would have take 50 years to recover.”

Moore said this past year was a great year for Alabama athletics.
“We are very proud of what our coaches have accomplished,” Moore said. “Our gymnastics team won the national championship and what a great job coach Sarah Patterson is doing. It was their fifth national championship. They also won the SEC championship as did our softball team. I think we had six teams place either second or third in the SEC, so there have been some positive things.”
The volleyball team and track teams have new coaches this year, Moore said, and he talked on how the old Foster Auditorium has been renovated for women’s basketball and volleyball.
“It looks like it did when I went to school there,” Moore said. “Everything is built like it was in your memory and everything is back just like it was, but in a newer building.”
Moore also talked about the soccer program being able to be on TV this year and how their stadium features some things from Bryant-Denny stadium.
“When we rebuilt the new stadium in the south end zone, we took out the jumbotrons and put in four smaller ones,” Moore said. “We sold some and one to Birmingham and Legion Field and we gave one to the soccer team. The first day there, the soccer girls were out there practicing being introduced. They love it and no other soccer stadium in America has a jumbotron.”
Moore mentioned that Anthony Grant and the basketball team are heading in the right way as well.
“Coach Grant is changing their attitude and approach to the game,” Moore said. “The last five home games were all sell outs. We won all games in Tuscaloosa last year. That is huge. Normally we would sell only two or three games out and the people would come see Kentucky play. Now they are coming to see our players because they are competing. Alabama fans like to see their team compete. We did not have a great shooter and had to work for every point but we went to the finals of the NIT and that was great publicity.”
Moore also said he is proud of the men’s and women’s golf teams.
“They have won the SEC championship and now it is on a regular basis after missing out on it for years,” Moore said. “We will win a national championship here shortly. We just signed a girl from Scotland and she is a great player. Both teams are competing for championships every year.”
Moore said football season is right around the corner and people are already calling wanting to know games times for the home games this year.
“We signed a $3 billion contract with CBS and ESPN a few years ago and they tell us when we play and what time,” Moore said with a laugh. “So we also want to know what time we play.”
Moore mentioned that the football team is trying to play more one-game stands at neutral fields.
“We played Penn State in Tuscaloosa last year and we gave them $200,000 when they came here,” Moore said. “This year we will go to them and they will give us $200,000. If we had just played Penn State say in New York City or in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome, we would have both made $3.5 million. We would have got 40,000 tickets and they would have got 40,000. We go to Happy Valley and play Penn State this year, we get 5,000 tickets. So we are better off doing games like we did with Florida State in Jacksonville a few years ago.”
Moore said even though Bama lost that game in the Gator Bowl, everything was great.
“We played where the Jaguars play, where Florida and Georgia play every year, where the Super Bowl was played two years before we played Florida State,” Moore said. “But when Alabama played in Jacksonville, it was the largest crowd in the history of the stadium. So it is like playing a home game. We will play at home to start the season this year, but next year we will play Michigan at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. That is the only time we will play them. We will divide the tickets with about 45,000 each and we will both make $4 million each.”
Moore said games in the future would be scheduled like that.
“We have scheduled a game with Michigan State like that,” Moore said. “That was before we played them in the bowl game. Now they might want to rethink that.”
Moore mentioned there are several reunions planned that are coming up.
“We will have the 1961 national championship team having a reunion,” Moore said. “That is 50 years ago and I was on that team. It was easier for everyone to come now than later. We will remake the championship photo and line them up in order. Most are coming back. Only eight are deceased. We will also have the 1971 SEC championship. That was the first year of the wishbone. They went 11-0. We opened with Southern Cal in the Coliseum and it was like war with an element of surprise. John McKay and the Trojans had no clue we were in the wishbone. We scored the first few times we had the ball to lead 17-0 and won 17-10.”
Moore said the win was on a Friday night and it was coach Bryant’s birthday and his 200th victory.
“I can see all that in my mind,” Moore said. “Coach McKay came into our hotel on a Thursday night with a big cigar and he came to get coach Bryant because they were big buddies and take him out for his birthday party at one of the studios. He was smoking a long cigar and was confident because they beat us in Birmingham the year before. The next night, we beat them. When you leave the Coliseum, both teams go out the same area and I walked beside him and his head was hanging so low. Just the opposite as he was on Thursday.”
Moore said the other reunion is the 1981 SEC championship, which was the team that gave coach Bryant his 315th win, and Walter Lewis was the quarterback on.
“We beat Auburn and coach Bryant became the winningest coach,” Moore said. “Those teams will be honored and it will be an exciting time.”
Moore talked about how excited he is about the 2011 team this year.
“We have a great coach in coach Nick Saban,” Moore said. “I have been in this business a long time and have been around a lot of coaches. We have an outstanding football coach. He handles himself with the media and the team so well. He does it the right way. I have never been around a coach that recruits like Nick Saban. He works at it. Because of that he has success. What a difference he has made at the University of Alabama.”
Moore said he remembers the night he got Saban to become the head coach at Alabama.
“We were in Ft. Lauderdale and we were taxing off and when we took off, he said, ‘Mal, I guess you think I am a (heck) of a coach,’” Moore said. “I am thinking, I did not say this, but I am thinking yes sir. I told him I thought he was an outstanding coach. He told me he wanted to tell me one thing and that one thing and that one thing was that he was not worth anything without the players. I think that makes a difference. I hear what he says to the team after the games and he is really good and we are very fortunate to have him.”
Mark Roberts, Manager of Chapter Development, said enrollment at the university is increasing.
“We now have over 31,000 students on campus,” Roberts said. “One in four high school graduates coming to campus now has a perfect GPA.”
Also the Alumni and Friends chapter is serious about raising scholarship money.
“We awarded five scholarships to outstanding area high school seniors this year,” Miriam McDaniel, who was over the event, said. “Elizabeth Nelson, Allison Reid, Kristen Gehman, Kathryn Miller, and Hannah Darby each received various scholarships to attend the University of Alabama. We are very proud to be represented by these students.”
Brewton’s own Dr. Keith Miller recognized scholarship winners from Escambia County and talked about the scholarship the local chapter deals with.
“This year we gave the university $8,750 from the golf tournament and the university helped matched that,” Miller said. “With their match of $7,271 match we gave $16,021 to the Walter Lewis Scholarship Fund. When we reestablished the chapter in 1994, there was $3,200 in the scholarship fund. Now there is $133,215. Also, the Curtis Finlay Foundation has helped with funds and that money is $155,600. At this time, we have $288,815. I remember when we were struggling to give out a $500 and this year we have out $9,000 to 11 students from Escambia County.”
One event that involves scholarships and raising money for the group is the annual scholarship fundraiser, the Walter Lewis Golf Tournament, which will be held sometime in late September or early October.
Lewis, who was quarterback for Alabama from 1980 -1983, was on hand at the meeting to recognize the students that received scholarships named in his honor.
The goal is for the chapter to be able to award a full scholarship in the near future, perhaps in the next couple of years. Also, the Walter Lewis golf tournament has been scheduled for Thursday, September 15.
Along with dinner and the speaker, raffle tickets were sold for door prizes, and Tide Treasures set up shop. Tide Treasures is a Tuscaloosa-based fan store offering unique University of Alabama memorabilia, jewelry, and keepsakes.
Past alumni meeting speakers were: former Alabama football coach Joe Kines in 2007, former Alabama basketball coach Mark Gottfried in 2008, former UA football player Siran Stacy in 2009, and University of Alabama president Dr. Robert Witt in 2010.

About Adam Robinson

My name is Adam Robinson and I have been the Sports Editor of the Brewton Standard since September 2007. I cover all the local sports in the Brewton area. I am a 2007 graduate of Troy University with a degree in Print Journalism with a contract in Sports Information. I married Shari Lynn in June of 2007 and we welcomed our first child, Hatlee, in April of 2010.

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