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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

Fact or Fiction, Toledo's Stories Have a Following

October 31, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

My oldest daughter says I told her I used to walk five miles to school. My youngest remembers me telling her it was eight.

It really doesn't matter that my mommy drove me the four blocks to school and picked me up every day, because, as they did with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the little ones bought it.

Sometimes being a good parent means being a good storyteller like Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," or Dad on "Growing Pains." In my house it just meant lying to the little brats to get some peace and quiet once in awhile.

"Coach Toledo tells me he was a quarterback and completed every pass he ever threw; he tells me about it every day and expects me to be the same way," says Cory Paus, and I'll bet Toledo walked 15 miles to school--each way.

"I don't know, though," says Paus, and this is the problem when kids start growing up or listening to their mothers. "I just can't imagine him doing the stuff he says he did."

Now, like my daughters, who weren't that keen in certifying Santa didn't exist--just in case he did--Paus isn't rushing to check the coach's resume.

Caught between the memory of quarterback Cade McNown, who became a first-round draft pick, and the memories of former quarterback Bob Toledo, Paus wants to believe all things are possible for a UCLA quarterback.

"I believe in Coach Toledo, and that's what he says," Paus said. "He tells us what's going to happen, and usually it does."

Toledo, of course, tends to exaggerate. Before Saturday's game he went before the team and wrote on a board that "We're going to have 75 plays" against Arizona. As you know now, the Bruins had only 74.

But he had most everything else correct, and so when the Bruins fell behind for the eighth time, they didn't sweat it, knowing that Toledo had already told them they were going to rise to the occasion at the appropriate time.

"You tell them that," Toledo said, "and it's got to happen if you're going to keep telling them things like that. When it does happen--they say to themselves, 'I trust him, and if I do what he says, we'll be all right.' "

There's really no other way to explain the Bruins' success this season. They defeated Alabama and Michigan, primarily because Toledo convinced them they could, and after losing eight games in a row on the road, they went against a Top 25 team in Arizona, and despite being beaten up, they won.

Too bad he didn't tell them the right things before the Cal game.

Five times, however, the Bruins have come back this year to win because Toledo has told them they could walk 100 miles to school every day and still have enough energy four quarters later to make the big play.

"We've been suspect when it comes to execution at times this season, but this team has never been suspect when it comes to having heart.

"It's a great group of kids and they've done everything I've asked them to do without question," Toledo said. "Sometimes I think it's almost a father-figure thing, and these kids just want to please us."

I've found an open checkbook does the trick with my kids.

*

MEMO TO PAUS: Toledo threw 185 incomplete passes for San Francisco State in 1967. He also threw 45 touchdown passes and had a tryout with the 49ers.

*

YOU PROBABLY SAW pictures in the newspaper of Cuban leader Fidel Castro taking batting practice recently--batting helmet and all.

This brings to mind a couple of questions:

Was the helmet really necessary--I mean who's going to throw inside to a dictator?

If Roger Clemens threw a broken bat at Castro, what would be the headline on the back page of the New York Post? Cuban Missile Crisis II.

And would a Cuban umpire have Clemens ejected or eliminated?

Tom Lasorda has already done his duty for the country beating Cuba in the Olympics, but asking the old left-hander to take the mound and overthrow Castro once and for all is probably asking too much.

*

MAESTRO, A LITTLE "Conquest," please, in the background as we run down the list of USC coaches--both present and past--and how they fared Saturday.

Paul Hackett's Trojans lost to Cal; John Robinson's UNLV team fell to Mississippi; Larry Smith's Missouri team lost to Iowa State; and Ted Tollner's San Diego State squad were beaten by Colorado State.

*

BLACKMAIL HAS ALWAYS been an effective tool for the NFL, and the city of San Antonio has stepped forward as the latest stooge to be used.

The only way the NFL wins better stadium deals is with the implied threat that without a new building a team will move. With no place other than an uncooperative L.A. sitting out there, the NFL has had no leverage, but now San Antonio will make a pitch for a team at the owners' meetings in Atlanta this week.

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