SU's group of Californians

Syracuse prepares for its rare trip to the west coast to play USC in what will be a homecoming of sorts for some California-bred players.

Defensive lineman Mikhail Marinovich at SU's media day. It’s been 44 years since the Syracuse University football team last visited the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Forty four years ago, in 1967, the Orange capped off an 8-2 season with a win against UCLA, who still played its home games at the Coliseum. 

To put that into perspective: William P. Tolley, the namesake for the building on campus, was SU’s chancellor; Larry Csonka, Hall of Fame running back with the Miami Dolphins, established himself as another in a long list of SU stars in the backfield by earning Consensus All-America honors; Tom Coughlin, head coach of the New York Giants, set the single season receptions record for SU; and Doug Marrone, current SU head coach, was three years old.     

Now, 44 years later, Marrone and the Orange travel to California to battle the Trojans of USC. It’s the first time SU played this California program since 1990, when the Trojans visited East Rutherford, NJ and thumped SU, 34-16. While the Orange may not make it to the Pacific coast very often, several of their current players migrated east to play at SU. Defensive tackle Deon Goggins, quarterback Nathaniel Forer, fullback Tombe Kose, linebacker Dom Anene, defensive end Mikhail Marinovich, long snapper Eric Morris, guard Lou Alexander, and wide receiver Cayden Feifer all hail from the Golden State. 

Marinovich, who grew up in San Clemente and attended high school about 56 miles from the Coliseum, has an interesting family connection to SU and USC. When the teams played in 1990, his brother Todd was the Trojans quarterback. That day he picked apart the Orange defense, going 25-for-35 for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Marinovich’s father, Marv, was team captain of USC’s 1962 National Championship team. 

It’s exciting for the senior to finally be making his way home. 

“It’s great for me, no doubt,” Marinovich said. “My dad, my brother, my mom, my grandma, my grandpa, they all went to USC. It’s an honor and a privilege to go back there and play now.

Living hours from the Coliseum and in a family with such a legacy at Southern Cal, Marinovich grew up around the Trojans. 

“I was really young when (my brother) was playing at USC so I would just run around the field not really understanding. But my baby picture is of USC with a little jersey and football. I just can’t wait for it.”

Let’s look at the rest of the SU-California connection. 

10 miles to the Coliseum - Feifer made the team as a walk-on wide receiver following 2011 spring practice. He is currently fifth on the depth chart. Feifer attended Culver City High School in Culver City, California.  

17 miles to the Coliseum - Defensive tackle Goggins grew up in Los Angeles, dreaming of one day suiting up for the team he’ll battle against Saturday night. But the junior college transfer is now Syracuse’s best interior lineman, recording 11 tackles this season, including two for a loss. 

42 miles to the Coliseum - Freshman quarterback Forer, originally from Encino, was recruited by two schools in Cali - Fresno State and San Diego State - but opted to backup Ryan Nassib at SU.

72 miles to the Coliseum – Linebacker Anene ended up as a walk-on for the Orange after a decorated high school career at his home town high school in Redlands. He earned honors junior and senior year as a defensive back, but made the switch to linebacker prior to SU’s 2011 spring practice.

124 miles to LA - Fullback Kose first settled in California after escaping a Sudanese refugee camp with his family at the age of seven. Following in his father’s and uncle’s footsteps, Kose developed into a soccer star in his new home state before watching a San Diego Chargers game inspired him to give up the game at 14 and switch to football. Ultimately, Kose completed his Cinderella story by committing to leave sunny San Diego for snowy Syracuse, playing backup fullback just four years after he first learned the position. 

While the connections between SU and USC may be plenty, when the teams take to the field Saturday, all that matters is who can make the plays. USC, who finished 5-8 last season, are 2-0 as well, with quarterback Matt Barkley enjoying early success. SU will be without star defensive end Chandler Jones, who is out with a lower body injury. The coaching staff hopes he will be back by next week. 

All season, Marrone has implored upon the media how tight his team is, how much they stick together when times are tough. Playing against a top-tier team in one of the largest college football venues like the L.A. Coliseum will certainly test that theory.



Syracuse vs. Southern Cal, Saturday at 8 p.m EST, in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum


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