Todd Marinovich, Mater Dei High School's sophomore quarterback who has thrown for 4,358 yards and 34 touchdowns in two seasons as a starter, announced Sunday that he will be transferring to Capistrano Valley High School.
Marinovich has been living in Newport Beach with his mother, but he said he will be moving into a Mission Viejo apartment in the Capistrano Valley attendance area with his father, Marv, later this week. The parents have been separated since last summer and Marv has been living in Garden Grove.
Because Marinovich will have changed residence, he will be eligible to play with the Cougars' varsity next fall.
Marinovich said the transfer was a "family decision" that he had been considering for several months, but added that he and Monarch Coach Chuck Gallo "didn't communicate well."
"I had a lot of fun and it was a great school," he said. "There were just some differences that we had. I wouldn't like to go into it."
Gallo, however, said the problems were with Marv Marinovich and not Todd. The elder Marinovich is a former USC and Oakland Raider lineman who spent four years as a strength coach and scout for the Rams.
He attended all of the Monarchs' practices and was heavily involved in monitoring the progress of his son. Since Todd was a child, Marv sent him to sports specialists, had him on weight-training programs and a strict health-food diet.
At times, Gallo felt Marv was too involved.
"His dad basically feels he's getting hit too much here, so he's taking him somewhere else," Gallo said. "He wanted to work with our offensive linemen and wanted us to change splits (blocking assignments). There was a strain there, and how can a kid go against his father?
"But parents are supposed to be parents and coaches are supposed to coach. We don't let parents coach. He was at practice every day and was in the middle of everything."
Marv Marinovich disagreed with Gallo's statement about Todd getting hit too much, but he refused to comment on his involvement at practices.
"I don't want to get into a back-and-forth situation," he said. "My main statement is that it's a family decision. We thought it was best for Todd to go back to where he was in junior high. I have nothing to gain by saying anything else."
The Marinovich family lived in Mission Viejo for two years. Had he not attended Mater Dei, Marinovich said he would have gone to Capistrano Valley.
Gallo felt Marinovich was happy at Mater Dei, where his entire offense was built around the quarterback and the passing game (Marinovich attempted 657 passes in two years), and where Marinovich received plenty of exposure. Several Orange County newspapers published articles on him before he had even played a varsity game last year.
"It's a tragedy for Todd, as far as I'm concerned, because he belongs at Mater Dei," Gallo said. "He loved the place and was featured in our offense. The killer is that we put two years of our program into him and we can't finish what we were going to do. We had the whole thing mapped out, and for him to leave is a sad thing.
"But Todd is a great kid and I wish him luck wherever he goes. There was not a problem between Todd and myself. It was between Mr. Marinovich and myself."
Dick Enright, Capistrano Valley coach, also has a pass-oriented offense, which was led last fall by senior Scott Stark, who broke Orange County's single-season passing record by throwing for 3,154 yards.
Burt Call, the Cougars' quarterback from 1981-83, held the Orange County career passing record with 4,956 yards until Newport Harbor's Shane Foley broke the mark last season.
"He (Marinovich) is a fine athlete who has played with a lot of the kids around here," Enright said. "I heard the rumors that he was coming and I've talked to his dad a few times.
"Marv and I have been friends for a long time. We both went to USC (at different times), he worked in our Junior All-American program in the area, and he has helped us out with weight training. We're a public school, and if Todd shows up, we'll coach him."
Enright said that Marcel Durand, who will be a senior next season, would have been his quarterback.