Ottawa Rough Riders

Greg Marshall - Defensive End - 1980-88 - Oregon State University


excerpt - The Making of a defensive guru Chad Scarbrook Winnipeg Sun July 12, 2006 -

Greg Marshall is the oldest of seven children. He was an all-state football player on both sides of the ball in Oregon and an all-state baseball player as well. He also played basketball and hockey. His favourite sport to play?


"Whatever was in season," said Marshall at Bombers practice recently. "Baseball was probably my first choice but the way things worked out I ended up getting a scholarship for football and that ended up being the direction I went."


His father Gerry, who passed away in 1995, coached many of Marshall's minor hockey and baseball teams and had a profound effect on his career and life.


"He directed me as far as sports," said Marshall. "He was very supportive, he coached me when I was younger and he taught me the right way and wrong way to do things. He had a strong influence on me not just in athletics but in my life in general."

Born in Beverly, Mass., Marshall was constantly moving across the U.S. due to his father's job as a metallurgist in the steel industry. He transferred from Pittsburgh to Oregon when he was 16, a place he still calls home today. It was at Lakeridge High School where Marshall really excelled.


"Greg was very athletic, especially for a big guy," said legendary Oregon high school coach Tom Smythe. "We were able to utilize him on both sides of the ball. He was very versatile and workmanlike. He never had a lot to say but he got the job done at a level most people couldn't. He was athletic and he was bright. He's a heck of a kid."

Marshall played his college ball at Oregon State along with wide receiver Steve Coury. Coury would later join Marshall on the Ottawa Rough Riders.


"He was a great player, an overachiever," said Coury, now a coach at Lake Oswego High School, on the outskirts of Portland and close to where Marshall grew up. "He was never the biggest or the fastest but he was always one of the best. He was very intelligent, always studying the game and knowing his opponents."


Marshall was drafted by the NFL's Baltimore Colts in the seventh round in 1978 and ended up in Canada playing for the Rough Riders for nine years. A CFL all-star four times, and a Defensive Player of the Year in 1983, Marshall turned to coaching after his career ended. He coached in the junior and semi-pro ranks in Ottawa before beginning his CFL career as defensive line coach in Saskatchewan in 1994. A stop in Edmonton as defensive co-ordinator produced a Grey Cup ring for Marshall in 2003. He returned to his old stomping grounds a year later to be defensive co-ordinator for the Ottawa Renegades.


"Obviously it was too bad that it didn't work out," Marshall said of the franchise that ceased operations after last season. "I think last year when they had to turn it over to (owners Bernie and Lonie Glieberman), it was just a matter of time. Everybody kind of felt that way. But obviously it's made the league stronger this year ... I think in the long run it would be nice if they could get a team back there or add another team out east somewhere."


After being one of the finalists for the Bombers head coaching job entering the season, Marshall went through the low of being told he wasn't selected to the high of being chosen by the man who was selected.


"It's a good fit," Marshall said of the dynamic between him and Bombers boss Doug Berry. "He brings a lot to the table as a head coach with his offensive knowledge. And I think I bring a lot to the table as a defensive co-ordinator. It's a pretty good mix. He's easy to get along with, and so am I. So far, it's been working out really well."


Marshall's defensive plan is similar to the one he employed in Ottawa.

"I have a base structure and I tailor it to what abilities the players have," he said. "I believe in trying to utilize the strengths of the players you have."