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Jack Curtice is a natural man. He spends a lot of time dinkin' around and he calls people "kokomos" for no particular reason. Dinkin' around includes every human activity from coaching football to playing golf to talking at banquets, and Curtice is very adept at dinkin' around. He is a warm, pleasant kokomo who coaches football at the University of Utah and who knows more people in Salt Lake City then Brigham Young ever did. He has a wide-happy face with a wide-happy smile, and his small blue eyes twinkle like small blue match flames behind horn-rim glasses. He has a wide, sturdy build which reflects his days as a quarterback at Transylvania College, and, unless you have extraordinarily powerful hands or a large measure of fortitude, you are likely to regret shaking hands with him since it is roughly the equivalent of shaking hands with a bear trap. The crushing salute does not reflect any sadistic tendency in Jack Curtice; it is just that he likes almost everyone very much and takes this way to show it.
Curtice is a happy, free-wheeling, albeit very capable, football coach. He likes his football players even more than he likes other people, and he treats them with a mixture of stern admonition, fatherly kindness and small-boy humor. He identifies himself with them almost completely, and he suffers as much with the problems of a fourth-string guard as with those of his first-string quarterback.
Early this season a massive youngster named Tony Polychronis, who is a sophomore guard, retired to the privacy of a, small, spreading bush on the edge of the Utah practice field, where he lay down in lonesome 19-year-old sorrow and cried. Curtice, who misses nothing in practice and certainly is attuned to the mental and physical well-being of 240-pound guards, saw the boy and walked over to him.
Trouble for a kokomo
"Hey, kokomo," he said softly. "What's troublin' you?"
Polychronis heaved his chunky body around and peered tearfully up through the leaves at the coach.
"I'm tired out and my legs have quit on me and I'm letting the team down, sir," he blubbered.
Curtice crawled under the bush.
"I'm tired too, kokomo," he said. "My legs quit a long time ago, and I guess I've let the team down a dozen times. Move over, I'm gonna cry too."
Pretty soon Curtice and Polychronis crawled out from under the bush and started dinkin' around on the practice field again. Now Polychronis' legs are in such good condition he can do a front flip, which is a rare and unusual accomplishment for a 240-pound guard and even, occasionally, a useful one.