Marv Goux, the gruff-talking assistant coach who became synonymous with USC football over a span of three decades, died of cancer Saturday at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 69.
The man known as "Mr. Trojan" played in two Rose Bowls and helped guide the team to five national championships before finishing his career with the Los Angeles Rams.
Working in the shadows of coaches John McKay and John Robinson, Goux was the grit of the program, often summoned to give fiery speeches before the annual Notre Dame game. Even when he was implicated in a scandal--caught scalping tickets and funneling cash to players--Goux said he was only acting out of loyalty.
To this day, players walking onto the practice field pause to slap the entrance known as "Goux's Gate."
"Football has always been my place in the sun from the time I could remember," Goux said in 1994. "I loved playing the game and knew from the beginning that I wanted to coach.
"No man has enjoyed what he has done more than I."
The Santa Barbara native arrived at the university as an undersized linebacker in 1952. Years later, when speaking to players about sacrifice, he could recall a game in which he intercepted a pass and was hit by three opponents. The resulting back injury left him with a hunch, "like I was looking for nickels," he joked.
After graduating with a degree in physical education, Goux spent a season coaching in high school before returning to USC in 1957.
Over the next 26 years, the team went to 11 Rose Bowls, winning eight. Players such as Gary Jeter, Tim Rossovich and Ron Mix became All-Americans under his guidance.
They also came to know his scowl, formed from thick eyebrows and a boxer's nose. His favorite lunch was raw hamburger sprinkled with chopped onions. "That's what makes me so tough," he said.
Before the Notre Dame game one season, Goux stopped practice and pointed to a former player standing on the sideline. The man was missing a front tooth. "He lost it right here on this field while getting ready for Notre Dame," Goux said. His players growled, then cheered. The alumnus knew the tooth was gone because of neglect--not football--but no one contradicted Goux.
"Marv was definitely the anchor of the team," former tailback Anthony Davis said. "You had to respect him."
It was near the end of his USC career, in 1982, when the NCAA discovered his practice of selling complimentary tickets and placed the team on three years' probation. "I brought the penalties on myself," Goux said, "but ... I did it to help my players."
Robinson became coach of the Rams soon after, and Goux followed. He remained on the Rams' staff until 1990, then spent four years as an administrator.
Frequently invited back to USC, Goux spoke at McKay's memorial service last fall and, in typical fashion, had the auditorium alternately cheering and laughing.
The longtime assistant reminisced about famous games and nights spent at Julie's, a restaurant near campus. He recalled the time he and McKay drove to Central California to visit a recruit. They were met by a growling German shepherd and had to dash inside the house.
As they drove away, McKay told him: "If this guy isn't a good football player, I'm going to fire you."
Later, a videotape showed McKay praising his assistants: "Those were the guys who coached the team."
Goux is survived by his wife, Patti of Palm Desert; his daughter, Linda Kanen, and son-in-law, Douglas Kanen, of Newport Beach; a brother, James of Carpinteria; and four grandchildren.
A memorial service at USC will be announced later. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital or the university's athletic department.