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blacksaint 07-29-2007 02:57 AM

Bob Toledo is ready to roll
Tulane's new football coach is 61, but he's tackling his new challenge like an energetic kid

By Billy Turner

The face of Tulane football, heck Tulane athletics, wears a smile the size of California and a touch of a tan.

It's a young face, devoid of wrinkles, though it has seen more than its share of years.

One suspects that in the materials boxed and shipped from Southern California where he had spent most of his life to first an apartment on St. Charles Avenue for a month then to a home in English Turn is a painting of Bob Toledo.

In a closet, in an attic, somewhere packed safely away must be a portrait that shows a man as withered and aged as a weathered piece of football leather.

Like literature's Dorian Gray, who never aged but hid his fateful portrait that did, how else does one explain the new Tulane football coach, 61, who looks 50 at the most, has hair like a 40-year-old and acts, according to his players, like one of them? What pact has he made with whom?

Speedy practices in April, 14- to 16-hour days, camps in the deep doldrums and blossoming humidity of June, meet and greets more prevalent than a politician running for office has everyone talking about Toledo, who has become the amazingly young face of Tulane in a matter of months to the joy and relief of all Green Wave officials.

He came, he saw, he conquered -- with waves and waves of smiles and handshakes.

"He's a very real people person," Tulane Athletic Director Rick Dickson said. "I thought that was important because we needed someone to come in and be the face of Tulane. Age didn't bother me. I just wanted to check what was in his tank. He brought that enthusiasm to the screening committee. They were all blown away with Bob.

" 'You look better to me now than you did years before,' I told him."

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