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Coach features: Jerry Howell - Hungry for another challenge

August 11, 2000

Barry Faulkner

Jerry Howell, with a resume too vast and varied to even remember,

still dreams of the brass ring.

The 54-year-old Costa Mesa High football coach, entering his sixth

season with the Mustangs as the program's career victory leader (34-21),

talks optimistically of his team's prospects this fall. He also savors

the gratification that comes from helping his players belong to something

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positive.

But, while he moved to Orange County after years of professional

wanderlust to "settle down," he hopes for at least one more challenge

before retiring to the simple pleasures of spending every fall with his

wife Patty, as well as much more quality time on his boat.

"If you're not hungry, you're probably not working hard enough and

you're probably not enjoying your job," Howell said. "I like what I'm

doing, but, in the back of my mind, I think there's still that brass ring

out there."

Metaphors aside, Howell has forged a fairly comfortable existence,

particularly when compared to his humble beginnings.

Growing up in a farm workers camp in Patterson (outside Modesto),

Howell said families shared outhouses and saved their department store

catalogs, which served as tissue when money became inevitably scarce in

the winter months.

Howell, who would organize groups of kids in his work camp to compete

against neighboring camps, said coaching was all he ever wanted to do.

"I remember saving and saving for 27 cents to buy my first Sports

Illustrated. And I read my first Street and Smith's, until the ink would

come of the pages."

After a successful playing career at Patterson High, the running

back-defensive back played collegiately at San Jose State.

He wasted little time beginning a diverse coaching career, which will

reach its 35th year this fall.

A volunteer assistant for the freshmen team at San Jose State after

graduation, he made stops at myriad high schools, earning his first

head-coaching gig at Santa Maria High at age 29.

His dream of becoming a Division I college head coach took him to

Claremont-McKenna College as an assistant in 1978-79 and he followed that

with two seasons as head coach at Occidental.

From Oxy, he moved to New Mexico State, where he was offensive

coordinator for two years, then Nebraska, where he was "the 18th

assistant in charge of third-string tight ends, who they hoped would just

stay out of the way."

He was head coach briefly at State University of New York Stoney

Brook, before leading the program for three seasons at Eastern Oregon

State.

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