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Title for Youthful Ambition Goes to Former Ram Coach

Reports identifying David Shula as the youngest head coach in the NFL’s “modern era” are incorrect--unless 1962 isn’t considered modern.

Shula was 32 years 7 months when he succeeded Sam Wyche at Cincinnati Friday.

But overlooked was Harland Svare, who was 31 years and 11 months when he became interim coach of the Rams in 1962. He became long-term coach soon afterward, shortly after turning 32. He was 35 when he was fired in December of 1965.

Svare, who never had a winning Ram team, later became coach of the San Diego Chargers. Today, at 61, he and a partner own a physical therapy clinic in Del Mar.

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Sunday, Svare reflected on his youthful start as an NFL coach: “I was inexperienced when I got that Rams’ job, there’s no question about it,” he said. “I’d only been coaching as an NFL assistant for 2 1/2 years when I got the job.

“I had no problems with the technical side of football, in terms of knowing the game. But I had problems handling athletes and their problems and also being able to judge where they were in terms of development.”

As for the NFL publicity office muffing the fact he was younger than David Shula when he became a head coach, Svare had this quip: “Maybe they think I’m dead.”

Odds-on choice: The greatest thoroughbred race horse ever? Secretariat, according to the Amoco Race of the Century, a computer race between 12 greats of the past at 1 1/4 miles.

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George Smith of the Illinois Institute of Technology wrote the program, a two-year project that involved the polling of handicappers as well as factoring in training runs and analyzing each horse’s 10 best races over a two-year period.

Secretariat beat Man o’ War by a half-length, and Kelso was third by a neck in the mythical race. The rest, in order: Citation, Spectacular Bid, Forego, Swaps, Count Fleet, Native Dancer, Ruffian, Dr. Fager and Colin.

Trivia time: What boxing achievement is attributed to the late actor, Victor McLaglen?

Nothing new: When John Antonucci, chairman of the Colorado Rockies, said he wanted Denver’s new major league baseball franchise to make at least 1,000 $1 tickets available for children, senior citizens and low-income fans each game, it was big news in Denver.

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But many baseball teams offer low-priced tickets. The Angels last season had a $1 ticket available for some games for an adult with four children. The Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets also all had $1 or $1.50 ticket programs.

What about Bam-Bam?Rawlings is trying to take at least partial credit for Desmond Howard’s Heisman season.

The firm’s “double grip” football, Rawlings says, has inverted pebbles on its surface, rather than the more common raised pebbles. Rawlings says its new ball results in greater accuracy, higher percentage of completed passes, longer passes, a better grip in cold or wet weather and is the best ball for quarterbacks with small hands.

A Rawlings blurb says: “Howard caught 19 touchdown passes while Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac led the nation in passing efficiency and 24 TD passes--all with the Rawlings ‘Double Grip’ ball.”

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Trivia answer: On March 10, 1909, McLaglen lost a six-round decision to world heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.

Quotebook: Former Detroit Lions tackle Alex Karras on his college career: “I only spent two terms at Iowa--Truman’s and Eisenhower’s.”


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