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•USC. The Trojans should have been a lock all along: Marv and Trudi went to USC; Trudi's brother, Craig Fertig, a former Southern Cal quarterback, is an assistant athletic director there now; and Traci is a senior at USC. Still, the Trojans were always sixth on any Marinovich list, maybe because Southern Cal was too close to home. Todd wanted to know if the Trojans would throw the ball. Coach Larry Smith said, "We can't just pitch to the tailback and win. We have to throw it."
The tide turned in USC's favor when Marinovich made his official visit to the campus on Jan. 30 and 31. He was impressed with the size of the offensive linemen on the squad and those being recruited. Marv didn't raise a fool. The clincher, though, was the walk Todd took with Smith through the storied tunnel that leads to the Coliseum floor. The 92,500-seat stadium was empty, but a recording played the stirring USC fight song, Conquest. Another recording bellowed the sound of cheering, and the scoreboard flashed WELCOME TODD MARINOVICH. Suddenly all that Trojan blood ran hot. "It was a decision made from the head and from the heart," says Trudi.
The next day at a brunch at Smith's house, Todd told the coach he was leaning toward USC. Then several days before signing day, Smith and Allen showed up at Capistrano Valley. Principal Tom Anthony summoned Todd from his art class. En route to the office, Marinovich spotted a teammate, linebacker Matt Hamry, and said, "This could be it. Coach Smith is here, and he wants an answer."
Then he walked past the sign, "Capistrano Valley: As Good As the Best, Better Than the Rest," and into the principal's office. Todd chatted with Smith and Allen for 15 minutes before telling them that he wanted to phone his dad. Smith and Allen stepped outside. Clearly shaken, Todd said, "They want me to give them a decision."
Said Marv, "Then give them one. Why are you calling me?"
"I want to go to USC."
"I'm behind you 100 percent."
Todd called the two coaches back into the room and said, "I'm coming." That was it. Everyone shook hands—"about 10 times," says Todd. And it was a done deal. Telling Walsh and Elway of Stanford the news a few hours later was a severe gut check.
But why USC? "I don't know," says Marinovich. "There's something about it. Deep down, I think I always wanted to go there. Once I said it out loud, I knew it was right. But thank god I won't have to make this decision again."
With that he picked up his subliminal motivational tapes and headed for his room. The phone was ringing.