Dec 27, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT
For many awaiting January 7th’s BCS Championship, they’re expecting a culture clash between two traditional football powers. Nobody expects to find much of a common thread between Notre Dame and Alabama. Whether its the differences between life in Tuscaloosa or South Bend, or a proud football independent versus the leading man in the rough and tumble SEC, most would guess that these two programs represent life on the opposite sides of the college football spectrum.
Well, that might not be as true as we all think. While there are certainly differences on both the academic and spiritual sides of things, Alabama athletic director Mal Moore took a fascinating look back at his time at both institutions — as a player, coach, and now AD at Alabama, and his three seasons coaching at Notre Dame under Gerry Faust.
Moore, who was at a crossroads in his career after working his final game as a Bryant assistant, and still mourning the death of his mentor, was pondering a variety of life choices when he received an odd call at home from the Irish’s then head coach.
“I didn’t know him well,” Moore told AL.com’s Don Kausler Jr. “I was shocked when he called. He called on a Sunday morning to see if I would be interested in talking to him and coming up for an interview.”
There was enough mutual interest from both parties that Moore, a back-up quarterback on the 1961 national championship team at Alabama, moved north for three years, coaching running backs for the Irish, including record setter Allen Pinkett.
The entire article is fascinating, if not for the mutual respect both universities had for each other. Particularly fun to read about was Bear Bryant‘s coaching roots, which extend back to his coach, Frank Thomas, a quarterback who played for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame.
“I didn’t know until I went up there that Coach Bryant’s coach here was Frank Thomas, and you know how you feel about your coach. Coach Thomas played quarterback for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame. I had lunch with a guy back then in his late 80s that played for Coach Rockne. He told me what Rockne would say in team meetings or games: the same damn things that Coach Bryant said to us, because that’s what Frank Thomas said to him. I was simply amazed at the connection.”
Bryant’s relationship with Notre Dame included a mutual admiration of Father Theodore Hesburgh. Moore recalled Hesburgh joining the victory celebration after beating USC in 1985 and doing it in a houndstooth hat that looked mighty familiar.
“We were all whooping and hollering in the locker room, and in walks Father Hesburgh and Father (Edmund) Joyce in their black suits and white collars,” Moore said, referring to the university’s chief financial officer. “Father Hesburgh had a black-and-white houndstooth hat, just like Coach Bryant. He was shaking hands with all the players. … He came by me, and I said, ‘Father, you look mighty handsome in that hat.’ He said, ‘Thank you, Mal. Paul gave it to me.’ And he pulled it off and it was autographed by Coach Bryant. This was three years after his death.”
Moore has piloted the Crimson Tide athletic department since 1999, pulling off one of the great hires in college football’s recent history when he got Nick Saban to walk away from the Miami Dolphins and return to the SEC.
And while not many Alabama fans have fond feelings for the Irish after they spoiled their share of Alabama seasons, Moore certainly doesn’t feel the same way.
“The whole time I was there, I still felt like I was working for Alabama,” Moore said. “I loved being there.”
Do yourself a favor and check out the column by Don Kausler Jr. who did a great job telling a largely unknown story.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:59 PM EDT
As Notre Dame and Navy meet for the 88th straight time, we reach a familiar time of year and a particularly scary Saturday for the Irish. As ghosts and goblins prepare to roam the streets in search of trick or treat, the Irish coaching staff receives its annual scare in the form of a triple-option offense and a football team with nothing to lose.
Oct 30, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
With a little over 48 hours until Notre Dame and Navy play, the final pieces of installation around going in before the chess match between two coaching staffs take place. For the Irish, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder gets his first chance at stopping the triple-option in over a decade.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:32 PM EDT
Drop your questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT
For a man that’s had more success against Notre Dame than any of his predecessors over the past two generations, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo certainly doesn’t think he’s figured out the Irish. In fact, for his Midshipmen team to win, Niumatalolo acknowledges that it takes more than just his team playing near-perfect football. He needs Notre Dame’s help as well.
Oct 29, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT
With last night’s announcement had all eyes on the first announcement of the College Football Playoff rankings, the immediate concern is Navy. While we can spend the next five weeks worrying about the view from 30,000 feet, credit Brian Kelly for understanding that the Midshipmen present the most clear and present danger.
Oct 28, 2014, 8:44 PM EDT
The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday evening. And Notre Dame has some work to do. The selection committee’s first ballot has the Irish slotted in at 10th in the country, a middle-of-the-pack one-loss team according to the 12-person voting panel.
Oct 28, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT
With a week off between Florida State and Navy, Brian Kelly and his coaching staff had an extra week of preparation for Ken Niumatalolo’s triple-option attack. Allowing his team to leave campus during the university’s fall break, Kelly afforded his players a chance to recharge their batteries after being on campus since June.
Oct 27, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
Among the many reasons Charlie Weis lost his dream job coaching Notre Dame was the Irish’s stumbles in November. Even with a guaranteed 10-year contract, Jack Swarbrick couldn’t watch Notre Dame melt down in November for another year, with Weis’ final two seasons ending with Notre Dame going 1-9 after Halloween. That’s a scary movie franchise that needed killing, no matter the expense.
Oct 25, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT
Before we have an Irish-free Saturday, let’s get to some questions. For those of you wondering what you should do on a day usually committed to football, the world is your oyster. Or you could watch some of Notre Dame’s opponents do battle.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT
When Brian VanGorder’s name surfaced as Notre Dame looked for a new defensive coordinator, there wasn’t necessarily a lot of buzz behind the hire. While VanGorder fit many of the criteria that went along with a Brian Kelly hire, the big-picture reaction wasn’t one of universal support.
Oct 23, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
There is no football game this weekend. For a Notre Dame football team that just played three-straight tight games, that’s a good thing. (For Irish fans, it’s a victory as well. Go buy a pumpkin and get outside in the fall weather.) As promised, let’s look back at the first eight weeks of the season. Notre Dame sits at 6-1, with a place in the College Football Playoff still very much in play.
Oct 23, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT
For the second time in a week, Notre Dame’s recruiting class landed a playmaking linebacker. During a press conference streamed live on ESPN.com, Florida’s Tevon Coney pledged his commitment to the Irish, picking Notre Dame over finalists Miami and Florida.
Oct 23, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT
Drop your questions below. Or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Oct 22, 2014, 11:43 AM EDT
With Notre Dame’s scheduling agreement in place with the ACC, Jack Swarbrick and the Irish athletic department can find some certainty in their future slates. That certainty was announced Tuesday, with dates for five ACC games in place through 2019 and matchups set through 2025.
Oct 21, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT
After eight weeks, the forecast for the first College Football Playoff is coming into focus. After falling to Florida State last weekend, the Irish lost pole position. But as a one-loss team now likely competing for one of the final spots in the four-team event, Notre Dame remains one of the top dark horse candidates.
Oct 21, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT
At this point, it doesn’t matter that the ACC has reversed course, deciding that the pass interference penalty was on C.J. Prosise after all. And that they’ve acknowledged that the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty they missed for P.J. Williams removing his helmet should’ve set up Notre Dame with a 1st-and-goal at the 9-yard line.
We’re moving on. (I promise.)
Oct 20, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
Usually, Brian Kelly gives his team 24 hours to celebrate a win or get over a loss. That rule was likely tested — and you couldn’t blame him if it was slightly relaxed — after Saturday night’s 31-27 loss.
“We need to give our kids a break. They’ve been going since June,” Kelly said on Sunday. “Our first bye week we kept them here to stay on top of their academics. We’re going to give them a little time off. But we’ll come back recharged, ready to go.”
Oct 19, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT
Upon second inspection, Brian Kelly hasn’t gained any clarity on the offensive pass interference call that took a game-winning touchdown off the board. While the head coach has moved on, with the Irish getting some much-needed time off during fall break, Kelly’s opinion on the play — now that he’s realized the penalty was on Will Fuller, not C.J. Prosise — is even more muddled.
Oct 19, 2014, 2:37 AM EDT
With 13 seconds left, Corey Robinson caught the 4th-down pass from Everett Golson and walked into the end zone, all but uncovered. And for a moment, it looked like Notre Dame pulled off a win for the ages.
Oct 18, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
It’s finally here. Not just the biggest game of the year, but the ultimate test for this Notre Dame football team. Entering Doak Campbell Stadium against the defending national champs and Heisman Trophy winner, we’ll see if the Irish have what it takes to upset the Seminoles.