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Ex-football coach Agase dies

The All-American player left to fight in World War II, then returned.

Published May 6, 2007


TARPON SPRINGS - Alexander "Alex" Agase, a former Northwestern and Purdue University head coach and three-time collegiate football All-American winner, died Thursday (May 3, 2007). He was 85.

"My father accepted tremendous challenges with great pride and did the best he could. He always said, 'If you could live with yourself, you could live with the world, ' " said his son Michael of Oswego, Ill.

"I hope, now, that he is coaching again, that he throws a little more, " he added.

Mr. Agase was born in Chicago and started school in 1941 at the University of Illinois, and the following year he earned his first All-American title.

With the country embroiled in World War II, Mr. Agase enlisted in the Marine Corps, and in 1943 earned his second All-American accolade with Purdue as a Marine trainee. During the war, Mr. Agase fought in the battles of Okinawa and Iwo Jima, and earned a Purple Heart.

He returned to school and football in 1946 and received another All-American nod and the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player Award with the University of Illinois.

Mr. Agase played professional football from 1947 to 1953 and was on three championship teams with the Cleveland Browns.

John Rauch was a former college and professional football player, and friends for a decade with Mr. Agase, sharing a pew with him at East Lake United Methodist Church, Tarpon Springs.

"I always looked forward to Sundays when we could talk a little bit about religion and our path in sports together, " Rauch said. "To me he was quite a character. I really feel bad about losing such a good man."

During their 30-minute Sunday football talks, Rauch said, they discovered that they played professionally against each other once in an exhibition game in Akron, Mr. Agase for Cleveland and Rauch for New York.

"We both felt that we were in that game, so we must have played against each other, " Rauch said.

Mr. Agase was the Northwestern University head football coach from 1964 to 1972 and Purdue head coach 1973 to 1976.

"He did a lot of good in the early years of college football, " Rauch said. "He encouraged a lot of young men to be better men under his guidance."

The Football Writers Association named Mr. Agase national coach of the year in 1970.

Mr. Agase was athletic director at Eastern Michigan from 1977 to 1981 and then was a volunteer assistant coach for Bo Schembechler at the University of Michigan.

Along with his son Michael, he is survived by his wife, Norma; sons, Steven, West Lake Village, Calif., and Paul, Wilmette, Ill.; a brother, Herbert, Spring Hill; two sisters, Rose Sargis, Evanston, Ill., and Beatrice Eshoo, Sacramento, Calif.; and 11 grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Thomas B. Dobies Funeral Homes, Tarpon Avenue Chapel, Tarpon Springs.

[Last modified May 6, 2007, 00:35:48]

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