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
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