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It's No More Mr. Tough Guy in Jacksonville

THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

December 31, 1997|MAL FLORENCE

Jacksonville Jaguar Coach Tom Coughlin, long known as a dour disciplinarian, has lightened up, according to Jaguar defensive tackle Don Davey:

"He's not Mr. High-Strung, Mr. Focus, Mr. Explode On Every Little Thing. I think he's trying to be one of the guys."

Comment from Ron Borges of the Boston Globe: "Oh, I'm sure that's high on Coughlin's priority list."

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Trivia time: Five Rose Bowl games have been rematches of regular-season games. The regular-season result was reversed only twice. Which teams were involved?

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Predictable: Freelance writer Norman Chad: "Everyone wants to see "Titanic," even though we know how it ends. Actually, I guess it's sort of like the Super Bowl in that way."

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Yawn: Arizona Cardinal quarterback Jake Plummer's reaction to news he made Terry's Bradshaw's all-something team--one of those All-Madden team ripoffs: "I think I'll go home and take a nap."

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Respectable now: New Jersey center Jayson Williams on the Nets' improvement:

"This ain't like the old days, when you hear on the public address, 'Will the lady who lost her five kids come and get them? They're beating the Nets.' "

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Quick response: Phil Collier of the San Diego Union-Tribune recalled that New York Met broadcaster Ralph Kiner was doing a game at Chicago's Wrigley Field when a batter was called out on a questionable 3-and-2 pitch.

"That kind of makes you want to commit hari-kari," commented broadcast partner Rusty Staub. Kiner replied: "Yes, and he's right next door."

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Cutting his losses: St. Louis Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa declining to repeat last year's guarantee of winning a division title:

"You can be stupid once, but idiotic to do it again. I'll settle for being stupid."

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Lower priority: Philadelphia Phillie Manager Terry Francona, who received a contract extension through the 1999 season, was asked if it had sent a message to the players:

"It sends a message to me. Now I can finish my basement."

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FYI: Michigan is the first No. 1-ranked team to play in the Rose Bowl since Ohio State in 1980. The Buckeyes lost to third-ranked USC, 17-16.

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Looking back: On this day in 1991, UCLA defeated Illinois, 6-3, in an all-field goal game in the John Hancock Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

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Trivia answer: UCLA defeated Michigan State, 14-12, in the 1966 game after losing, 13-3, in the regular season. The Bruins also beat Ohio State, 23-10, on Jan. 1, 1976, after losing earlier to the Buckeyes, 41-20.

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And finally: Dennis Rodman on idle teammate Scottie Pippen: "I'm not disappointed that Scottie is doing this [sitting out]. He feels like he is being cheated and in some respects I agree with him.

"We probably could win it [championship] without him. But he'll be back, believe me. Probably against the Lakers when we go out there."

Mark the Feb. 1 Forum game on your calendar as "P" Day.

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