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Alabama AD made a brief stop at Notre Dame

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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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10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

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10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

It might be hard to remember now, but there was a week late last season for the Redskins where most informed people considered Kevin O'Connell on his way out. The talented young quarterbacks coach was being pursued by Chip Kelly to be offensive coordinator at UCLA, and the smart money suggested O'Connell would take the job. 

Except he didn't. 

O'Connell decided to stay with the Redskins and continue to work on Jay Gruden's staff. In turn, Washington promoted O'Connell to passing game coordinator, a new title that likely means much more involvement in game-planning. 

Working for Gruden comes with some perks. Sean McVay ran the offense for Gruden for a few seasons and landed a prime head coaching job with the Rams. McVay has plenty of his own talent, but throughout the NFL, Gruden's offense is widely respected. 

How will O'Connell's influence shape things this fall?

Consider that he deserves some credit for Kirk Cousins improved play out of the pocket in 2017. Now combine a coach that schemes plays for QBs on the move with new Washington passer Alex Smith, a strong runner and serious athlete, and this offense could look much more mobile in 2018. 

Gruden still has the final call on gameday, but O'Connell's voice will matter this year, more so than before. Bill Callahan and Matt Cavanaugh retain their roles and prominence in the offensive game-planning, for sure, but as Washington imports more run-pass option plays and QB movement, know that O'Connell is playing his part. 

Things will look different with Alex Smith running the Redskins offense than they did with Kirk Cousins at the helm. 

Just remember, O'Connell didn't turn down a job in Hollywood for no reason. 

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Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 17, nine days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best pass catchers the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the pass catchers are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 receiving yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teams and quarterbacks

Julio Jones, Falcons—Somehow the perception is that he had an off year in 2017 even though he still had 1,444 yards receiving. His touchdowns were down; his total of three TDs was a career worst for a full season. Still, he’s a beast to try to cover and even if you have him perfectly covered he can still make the catch on you. 

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—Despite working with some shaky quarterbacks, Hopkins has managed to gain over 1,100 receiving yards in three of the last four seasons. He is a highlight show regular and his 13 touchdowns led the league in 2017. 

Michael Thomas, Saints—The third-year player doesn’t have high name recognition outside of New Orleans and maybe fans of the other NFC South teams. Defensive coordinators certainly don’t sleep on him. Thomas is as consistent as they come, posting nine games with 80 or more receiving yards last season. 

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals—I keep wondering when he will show signs of his age (he’ll be 35 before the season starts). He didn’t last year, posting 109 receptions despite the fact that his quarterbacks were an aging Carson Palmer plus journeymen Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. 

Mike Evans, Buccaneers—At 6-5, he is able to physically beat most cornerbacks. Evans will turn 25 just before the season starts and he got a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension. He is worth every bit of it. If Jameis Winston gets a big contract (something that is up in the air right now), he owes a good chunk of it to Evans. 

Best of the rest: T.Y. Hilton, Colts; Davante Adams, Packers; Alvin Kamara (RB), Saints; Zach Ertz (TE), Eagles

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 9
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 23
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 46

The Redskins last played a game 198 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 54 days. 

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