George Allen, Coach Who Built Winners, Dies at 72:
Football: Motivator of troubled teams led Rams, Redskins and Cal State Long Beach to victorious seasons.
Los Angeles Times January 01, 1991|STEPHEN BRAUN | TIMES STAFF WRITER
George Allen, the steely personification of the victory-obsessed football coach, who motivated underachieving Los Angeles Rams and over-the-hill Washington Redskins teams into perennial powerhouses and came back this year to post one last winning season as coach of the Cal State Long Beach 49ers, died Monday.
Allen, a physical fitness buff who never fulfilled his elusive dream of building a national fitness academy, died of natural causes at his Palos Verdes Estates home. He was 72.The man who coached for six decades had been complaining of a cold, said Perry Moore, a former athletic director at Cal State Long Beach. Allen telephoned Moore about 11:30 Monday morning and they talked for about 20 minutes.
“He was hoarse and he said he had a cold and didn’t feel good,” Moore said. “We talked about football and he said he thought he could get a couple of good kids (recruits) for next year’s team.”
Another report, confirmed by a university official, suggested that a giddy locker-room celebration after the college team’s season-ending victory against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, might have contributed to Allen’s recent poor health. The coach was doused with ice water by his ecstatic players and ever since had not been feeling well, said Becca Wohlt, a university spokeswoman.
At a dinner Sunday night, Allen told Frank Bowman, the university housing director, that “he had gotten a cold on Saturday, because he didn’t wear a jacket at the CSULB practice field when he watched Iowa’s team practice for the Rose Bowl. I said, ‘Stick with the Vitamin C and cold water.’ ”
Rams Coach John Robinson on Monday hailed Allen’s season with the ragtag Long Beach team as “his finest. He was able to continue what he loved to do right until the end–which was something to be admired. He was obviously one of the great coaches.”
Rams radio analyst Jack Youngblood, a former All Pro defensive lineman who came to the Rams in 1971, one year after Allen left for the first time, then played for him when Allen coached the Rams for two preseason games in 1978, said: “It’s a tragedy to lose someone so suddenly and unexpectedly like George Allen. It saddens your heart. He was a winner. He loved the game. He ate, breathed and slept football.”
Indeed, the coach was known as workaholic, who once explained why he enjoyed eating ice cream by saying it took little time to chew.
George Allen was known as a tight-mouthed disciplinarian who delivered peppy, almost arcane inspirational slogans to egg on the aging, beefy veterans who played for him so well.
Allen was a Puritan in a world of hell-raisers, who in his 70s still grimaced at obscenities, despite having spent a lifetime coaching his share of sometimes unstable, foul-mouthed “hit men.”
Even in his last year of coaching at Long Beach, Allen was visibly uneasy about players who wore earrings. He warned his college charges that “we don’t sit on helmets. We don’t litter. We don’t report late for practice and meetings. We don’t let our jerseys hang out. . . . We don’t walk. We jog.”