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Hall of Fame

Assyrian Sports Hall of Fame - Football







Brief History

Alex Agase is without doubt the first Assyrian to gain fame as an athlete in the United States of America. Agase was born and raised in Evanston, IL. and went to the University of Illinois in 1941 where he became one of the greatest guards in Big Ten history. He has the rare distinction of becoming an all-American at two Big Ten schools.


Agase made All-America at Illinois in 1942 and made headlines in the third game of that season. He caused and recovered two fumbles for touchdowns to lead underdog Illinois, to 20-13 victory over a Minnesota team that had won the last two national championships.


World War II interrupted his career somewhat. He was sent to O.C.S (Officer Candidate School) at Purdue where he played football while earning his commission and was again named all-American in 1943. After receiving his commission as lieutenant, he was sent to the Pacific Theater of War. He engaged in the battle of Okinawa where he won a Purple Heart among his other medals.


After the war, he returned to Illinois to complete his education. this time he not only made All-America, but was selected as the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player while leading the Illinois to the Big Ten championship in 1946.


With that title came a bid to the Rose Bowl, the first in the new contract between the Big Ten and the Pac Ten. UCLA was the Pac Ten Champion. The Bruins did not to play Illinois, they felt they'd rather play No. 1 ranked Army for a chance at the national championship.


They were lucky they didn't play Army. Illinois walloped UCLA 45-14. Also on that Illinois team was another Agase, Alex's younger brother Louis. Alex and Lou were instrumental in the win as were other greats such as Buddy Young, Julie Bykovich, Perry Moss Ruck Steger.


After College, Alex played pro ball with the Cleveland Browns before going into coaching. He teamed up with Ara Parseghian and together they revived the Northwestern program in the 1960s and 1970s.


Ara left Northwestern for Notre Dame and Alex was the head coach at the Evanston school from 1964 through 1972. His 1970 and 1971 teams finished second in the Big Ten. He returned to pursue as head coach from 1973-1976. After that he was athletic director at Eastern Michigan for five years and then as an assistant coach at Michigan before the 1947 Illinois team after Alex had graduated and then became an assistant coach at Illinois. Lou also served as a head coach for Toronto in the Canadian Football League.


Accomplishments, Recognitions & Awards

1943-1946 U.S. Marines - Awarded Purple Heart-Bronze Star

1942-1943 All American - Illinois

1943 All American - Purdue

1946 BIG TEN - Most Valuable Player

1947-1953 NFL Professional Football - Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts

1963 Inducted into National College Hall of Fame

1964-1972 Head Coach at Northwestern University

1970 Football Writers - National Coach of the Year

1973-1976 Head Coach at Purdue University

1977-1982 Athletic Director Eastern Michigan University

1982-1988 Assistance Coach - University of Michigan

All Time Teams - University of Illinois & Purdue University

Diamond Anniversary ALL BIG TEN SELECTION

Chicago Medal of Merit Recipient

Chicago Sportsman of the Year


Alex Agase passed away at the age of 85 in 2007 but not before leaving behind a great legacy in college football and his home town

By an anonymous Assyrian Sports Columnist

Forwarded by Mr. Paul D. Newey of Chicago, IL.


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Last Updated :March 12, 2019

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