- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Trudi understood, but that sort of attitude has not pleased Marv. Last Thanksgiving, Marinovich had a couple of days of vacation. Marv viewed it as a splendid opportunity for Todd to get in some extra work; his son viewed it as a splendid opportunity to goof off. Todd goofed off. One day in December, during those Rose Bowl preparations, Marv didn't like the way Todd was transferring his weight while throwing. So he arranged for former San Jose State quarterback Steve Clarkson, who previously had worked with Todd on his mechanics, to come by for a refresher session. Todd said he was too busy. He remained too busy. The old man was beside himself. "If Todd had to choose between being a top quarterback or one of the boys, he'd prefer to be one of the boys," Marv fumed.
Whither Todd Marinovich?
The real difficulty is that Marinovich can't decide who he wants to be. He almost always talks in a flat tone, as if speaking with exuberance would somehow indicate weakness. He is not sure what he wants his public style to be. He can't decide if he wants to be a free spirit living on the edge or a guy with a briefcase and calculator who wears both belt and suspenders.
Marinovich's confusion is apparent. At one point, he sits with his chin resting in his hand, projecting a thoughtful air. Moments later, his arms are draped over chairs next to him, a study in nonchalance. He can be hopelessly shallow. Asked to name the main thing he likes about football, he says, "It's the closest you can get to being a rock star."
But moments later, talking about art (he is a fine arts major at USC and is just now moving from pen-and-ink sketching into oils) and football, he draws an insightful parallel: "Neither has limitations. The quarterback has the most leeway and the most control on the field. That's just like an artist. In both, it's fun watching nothing turn into something good." Yet, ask Marinovich who he is and he fidgets. He seems to think that if he sits long enough and says nothing the question will go away. It does not. "I am a guy who is really lucky," he finally says, "because I'm doing things that I like and that I'm good at—football and art-all the time. That will keep you happy."
Alas, truth be told, he has a hard time keeping happy, for one reason: No matter how well Marinovich does, it is not good enough. Incredibly, the better he does, the more he falls behind others' expectations. Both UPI and The Sporting News named Marinovich the College Freshman of the Year for 1989. He was the only freshman on the All-Pac-10 team and the first freshman quarterback ever named. He was also the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener for USC since World War II.
Last season, Marinovich completed 197 of 321 passes during the regular season (16 touchdowns versus 12 interceptions) for a 61.4% rate, just .1% behind the NCAA freshman record set in 1983 by Bernie Kosar at Miami. So, what does USC coach Larry Smith see as his team's primary need this fall? "Improved efficiency at quarterback," Smith says. In fact, Smith and Dorr are expecting—what a horrible word that can be—Marinovich to complete 70% of his passes this season. As an afterthought, Smith says, "Of course, we want Todd to proceed at his own pace." Of course. As long as it's 70%. Fans expect even more. Buttons appeared last year that read, IN TODD WE TRUST.
Not long ago. Smith was asked to evaluate Marinovich's performance in spring practice, during which he had completed 306 of 461 passes with only eight interceptions. "I think he did well," said Smith. Period. No elaboration. Smith then lavishly praised the spring practice effort of backup quarterback Shane Foley. At the March 24 scrimmage, Foley was 18 of 22 for 174 yards while Marinovich was 12 of 22 for 154 yards. When Smith was asked if Foley could start this year in place of Marinovich, the coach didn't hesitate: "Sure it's possible. Foley would be starting anywhere else. I tell you, he pushes Todd."