LONG BEACH, CALIF., NOV. 20 -- When the local Christian Fellowship Athletic League asked George Allen to give a speech, the group offered six footballs as an inducement. Hardly an overwhelming donation.

With Allen badly in need of rest, his energy sapped by a season nothing short of remarkable, a refusal seemed certain. But he hasn't decided yet. Footballs are something his players at impoverished Long Beach State could use.

"I wouldn't normally speak for six footballs," Allen said today at a meeting with reporters. "{But} at Long Beach, I might consider that. . . . This is a Division I school, but we need so much to make it Division I."

Such as footballs. Or an on-campus stadium. Or, at the very least, some fan support and a tailback.

Until Allen, 72, tires of the coaching grind -- and he hasn't showed signs yet -- he'll pursue all of these things and more to add to the memories of a 1990 season that saw his team open with three losses and finish with three victories.

Long Beach State, which in 1986 nearly dropped football for lack of funds, defeated Nevada-Las Vegas, 29-20, Saturday to finish the year at 6-5. Somehow, Allen guided the 49ers, whose quarterback and defensive linemen hadn't played a down in college before their Sept. 1 opener at Clemson, to their first winning season in a half-decade.

"I think the season that we just completed was a remarkable football season," said Allen, who coached the Redskins from 1971-77 and the Los Angeles Rams (1966-70) before that. "I don't think you'll ever see another season at Long Beach again, maybe anywhere else, quite like it.

"Some people pointed out to me last night that we could have been 7-4. I also realize we could have been 0-11."

It certainly looked that way in mid-September, as Allen's team, lacking experience and depth, was beaten on the road in succession by Clemson (59-0), Utah State (27-13) and San Diego State (38-20).

Then came the turning point: a 28-7 home victory over the University of the Pacific, whose quarterback, Troy Kopp, routinely has 400-yard passing games. It was the first of six consecutive victories at Veterans Stadium, where Allen's team never lost -- though it needed a bus to get there.

"There was a lot of {talk} going on that we might not win a game," Allen said. "We were making a lot of mistakes. The thing that made {the victory over Pacific} so remarkable was that we put in a completely new defensive game plan."

Allen's flexibility and ingenuity helped the 49ers reestablish themselves -- and his reputation as a master coach and motivator. Coaxed out of a six-year retirement 11 months ago to save the sinking program, Allen revived interest in an area that seemingly forgot football, much like he did with the Redskins in the '70s.

"I've never had a team that tried harder," Allen said. "I'm really proud."

With Allen, the 49ers finished in the top half (fourth) of the Big West Conference for the first time since 1986. The average attendance for Long Beach State games increased by 44 percent.

Todd Studer, Allen's rookie quarterback, adapted quickly and threw for more than 2,600 yards. Defensively, the 49ers had three players with at least 90 tackles. And in three of the team's six victories, Long Beach State scored the winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.

Allen's satisfaction was "tremendous, because these players needed success. Winning is the best medicine for a program that hasn't won in five years. . . . What we accomplished this season was more significant than winning a championship."

Given the choice, Allen would like "to just go home and go to sleep" for the next few months. But, as he knows, the rebuilding process doesn't stop during the offseason.

Recruiting and speaking engagements figure to take up some of his vacation time, along with a never-ending campaign to construct an on-campus stadium. That, however, won't be happening anytime soon, Allen said. Five months passed before he saw the first drawing for a new facility.

"Until Long Beach gets a stadium, they'll always be on the verge, always struggling and always fighting for their lives," Allen said. "When you have your stadium, the program is here to stay, whatever the division is."