TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron used to wander over to athletic director Mal Moore's corner office every couple of weeks for a chat, one Crimson Tide quarterback to another.
So it hit McCarron especially hard when he got the news Saturday that Moore had passed away after a battle with pulmonary problems.
``He was such a legend here and I always liked being around his presence,'' McCarron said Monday evening. ``It's kind of like being around coach (Nick) Saban. You can learn so much just carrying a normal conversation with him. And how he used to carry himself in public. He was a first-class man, did everything the right way.
``I love him to death and it's sad to see him go.''
The university said Monday it will hold a public memorial service for Moore Thursday in Coleman Coliseum.
Moore's health problems had forced him to step down on March 20, and he passed away at Duke University Medical Center at age 73. The former Tide quarterback had been athletic director since 1999 after playing on Bear Bryant's first national championship team in 1961. Moore also coached under Bryant and Gene Stallings.
Saban, who Moore hired as football coach in January 2007, said the death hit him hard.
``It was really tough for me on Saturday when we got the news,'' Saban said. ``Mal was such a close friend, someone that I respected personally as well as professionally, in terms of the way he treated and thought about other people. Probably the most caring person about always putting other people first that I've ever been around, especially in the position of leadership that he had.
``Very, very compassionate. I never even saw him ever in the years that I've known him treat anybody with disrespect. I think we can all learn a lot - and I certainly have become a better person being around Mal Moore, with the class and character and obviously the integrity he had as a person and a coach and as an athletic director. It's just tough losing a good friend. I think his legacy at this institution is going to last for a long, long time.''