The statue of limitations has not run out yet, but Arkansas Tech offensive coordinator Dean Norsworthy is ready to make a full confession.
Must be another case of “Marsh Madness.”
Tanner Marsh’s college coaching mentor had just finished up film study meetings late last Thursday night when he got a message---Tanner was in the game up in Canada.
“I was crossing the levee to get to my house which is on the side of a mountain across the lake and thankfully there were no police officers on that levy because I tried to set the land speed record to get to the house and see the last 2 minutes,” Norsworthy admits.
“I don’t have any children – I can’t describe what it’s like to have one of your children be really successful – but boy I tell you what, I felt like my head was going to explode I was so proud of him.”
Behind a battered, bruised, rain-drenched team, a 6’4” Texan became the first Alouettes quarterback to have ever thrown four interceptions in a game and still electrify the loudest crowd of the year at Percival Molson Stadium.
The now classic photo of Marsh heaving up hope high and deep into the night for Eric Deslauriers, the wallpaper for the QB’s own twitter page, now is printed up and hangs in the office of his former “Wonder Boys” OC.
Marsh is the first Alouettes QB to scramble and throw for 400 yards in a relief appearance and only the second since 2005 to gain 300 through the air in any CFL relief appearance.
The sudden arrival of Marsh Madness in Montreal only confirms the departure of Marsh Madness from Russellville, Arkansas. It also brings the 23-year-old scrambler Marsh to his own confession.
|The 'madness' begins in Montreal|
» Video: Marsh Says Ending 'was crazy'
» Video: Marsh Scampers for 10-Yard TD
» Video: Marsh Spots Deslauriers for Winner
» Marsh comes off the bench to lift Als
» Victory Marsh for young Als QB
» Moffat: Young QB as old school as they come
“I didn’t come up with that phrase myself...it all started in high school,” says the lean and lanky blond. Though it remains his twitter handle and followers have spiked up 20% @MarshMadness16 since his first career win in relief of off-season workout partner and good buddy Josh Neiswander.
“I only started my senior year and kind of came out of nowhere. My best friend and his Dad made about 20-30 shirts with ‘Marsh Madness’ on it and I had my own little crew.”
“My Mom and I still have the shirt, so do my friends who still give me a hard time about it.”
“As yawl get to know him,” predicts Coach Norsworthy “you’ll see he’s a humble kid but full of confidence.”
“There’s been a lot, a lot of adversity,” admits Marsh. “But it makes me a tougher person and got me where I am today. There’s just been so much. You have to take it the right way and use it as something good...gitchya to places no one thinks you’ll git.”
A high school teammate recalls on Facebook for me Tanner was only a toddler when he lost a brother to a medical tragedy that struck the family. Even the fondest memories of Hebron High bring a shudder from Tanner – The cold and rain of a quadruple-overtime shootout 54-51 victory against a rival team that then featured current Kansas City Chief RB Cyrus Gray.
At West Texas A&M University Marsh’s best friend and roommate Kendrick Cutsinger was killed in a car crash. Marsh wears the “Buckle Up!” campaign bracelet to this day on the wrist of his throwing arm, which also bears a memorial tattoo.
The West Texas years were also marked by the turbulent struggles of Coach Ryan Leaf, the former NFL bonus baby best known for his career “crash-and-burn”.
“It was hard, I had to go through a lot but you just can’t doubt yourself,” says Marsh after taking starters’ reps prepping for the Argos. “You’re no.1 fan has got to be your family and yourself. You got to keep the people that support you around you and I never gave up.”
Marsh was recruited by Coach Norsworthy out of high school, but opted for the lure of the infamous ex-NFL star.
“I kind of screwed him over,” Tanner reveals with the hindsight of a prodigal son.
“It was just funny how I ended up back with him and we just got so close because I had to learn so much.”
“Tanner transferred his senior year with nothing more than a promise that I would give him the opportunity,” recalls Norsworthy. “He just stepped up, took the starting spot from a returning #1 and the team followed him – he’s a winner. He told me straight up he thought Leaf could teach him what he needed to know to get to the next level...so I can hold that over him now,” Coach says with a chuckle.
|Moffat on the Alouettes|
The voice of the Als on CJAD, Rick Moffat has sideline-to-sideline coverage of the Montreal Alouettes all season long here on CFL.ca.
» Click here to read more from Moffat
“We have a funny relationship,” admits Marsh. “He’d leave his door open and I’d just walk in and we’d always be picking on each other and talking crap.”
Norsworthy had offered his prized student a grad-assistant coaching role this season if the pro football fates were going to be cruel.
“I had to go through 5 or 6 tryouts and you never know who is watching,” Marsh says of the free agent camp and mini-camp process that put him on the radar of GM turned interim head coach Jim Popp.
“Long after his football career is over he’ll be a winner in whatever profession he chooses,” predicts Norsworthy. “I think he’d be a great coach.”
“What yawl are seeing now up there is a big kid who can run and throw, he is physically and mentally tough, but his personality and character are what his strengths are.”
“Tanner is a guy people naturally gravitate to and they naturally want to be around. When that time comes if I ever get to be a Head Coach I would hire him in the blink of an eye.”
Sorry, Coach that could be a while. Marsh Madness, yawl.
Rick Moffat is the Voice of the Montreal Alouettes on CJAD 800. He works alongside former CFL Dave Mudge. Moffat's first attended Grey Cup was as a fan in '77 - the infamous Tony Proudfoot "Staple Game". Rick is proud to say he had his first beer at an Als' game during the Marv Levy Era. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickMoffat.