Alabama AD made a brief stop at Notre Dame


Alabama AD made a brief stop at Notre Dame

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Mal Moore's career was adrift.

A quarter century of winning games and titles as an Alabama player and assistant to Bear Bryant had ended, and Moore was passed over to succeed the famed coach.

He was thinking about getting out of the profession altogether before Notre Dame's Gerry Faust called one Sunday morning to gauge his interest in a job.

``At the time, I kind of felt like a man without a country,'' Moore said. ``I was in a strange position that I'd never been in before.''

He flew to South Bend that day for an interview, then served as running backs coach from 1983-85. From one elite program to another and, ultimately, back to his alma mater to stay.

Moore's stopover in northern Indiana is now a footnote in a 50-year career defined by the eras of Bryant, Gene Stallings and now Nick Saban. He has been around for nine national titles at Alabama and is hoping to crack double digits Monday night when the Tide faces No. 1 Notre Dame.

But back in the 1980s, Moore's career moves were the height of intrigue and drama in the college football world.

He was either a player or assistant for Bryant during all but one season of a historic 25-year run. Bryant, who died a couple of months after stepping down following the 1982 season, won 323 games, six national titles and 13 Southeastern Conference championships during his tenure in Tuscaloosa.

When he left, Moore and fellow assistant Ken Donahue interviewed for a job that went to Ray Perkins, then coaching the NFL's New York Giants. And Notre Dame made an attention-getting hire.

``It was considered quite a coup, an amazing coup,'' said Lou Somogyi, senior editor of 247Sports' Notre Dame site and Blue and Gold Illustrated. ``All of a sudden, here's Mal Moore, who's been part of so many national titles with Bear, and he's looking for work.

``Out of the blue, Gerry Faust called him. That was a pretty extraordinary set of circumstances.''

It was also quite an adjustment for a Southern Baptist heading to a Catholic university.

Moore lived for several months in the Morris Inn on campus, where he could step out the door, glance left and see the golden dome. Wife Charlotte, who died in 2010, and daughter Heather moved to South Bend after their home was built.

``It was a good three years,'' said Moore, who had become Alabama's first offensive coordinator in 1975. ``We weren't a great team during that time. We went to two bowl games, but it was quite an experience. Especially for Charlotte. Charlotte was Catholic growing up. She loved her time there and on the campus.''

Moore then went on to coaching stops in the NFL before returning to his alma mater as Stallings' offensive coordinator in 1990, helping the Tide to a national title two years later. He's been athletic director since 1999, hiring Saban from the Miami Dolphins in his best career move. The football and athletic administration building is named after him.

Moore was on the opposite sideline for the first four of six meetings between Notre Dame and Alabama. The Fighting Irish won by one point in 1973, two in 1975 and three in 1976.

Notre Dame's 7-0 win in 1980 broke the pattern of one-point increase in scoring margin.

``Bear Bryant said after the (1976) game: ``I don't think I'm going to be around for the four-pointer,'' Somogyi recalled.

He noted that ``Notre Dame fans were groaning'' after Alabama missed a field goal in `80 that would have created that four-point margin.

Moore and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbuck had several discussions about trying to set up regular-season meetings, perhaps at some neutral site like New York or Orlando.

``We just never could quite pull it off,'' Moore said. After the BCS matchup was set: ``I called him and said, `Jack, you and I couldn't put a game together but now we let the players do it.'''

After ups and downs for both programs, they're once again vying for national supremacy. And Moore, of course, will have a prime view.

His stop at Notre Dame showed him the similarities both programs share. Notre Dame had Knute Rockne and Ara Parseghian, Alabama Wallace Wade and Saban. Both have had five different coaches claim national titles.

Traditions galore.

``A powerful university. Great history, great tradition,'' said Moore, who has talked to several of his former Notre Dame players leading up to the matchup. ``That is what's so similar between the two programs, is the great success that both have enjoyed through the years.

``There's a lot of people that have had success at both universities. The alumni at both expect greatness. This is what here at Alabama I hope never changes. Once it doesn't matter then you are in trouble.''

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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