USC Halfback/NFL Guru Ernie Zampese Dies

Former USC halfback Ernie Zampese, who was better known as a successful NFL offensive coordinator, has died. He was 86.

Zampese was a left halfback at USC in 1955-56 and made his mark despite playing with star tailbacks Jon Arnett and C.R. Roberts.

In 1956, Zampese was third in rushing (500 yards), second in passing, third in scoring and third in total offense. He was also the punter and averaged 43.9 yards, one of the top averages in the nation that season.

Zampese still holds the record for longest punt in USC history (85 yards).

He was also known for his fun-loving personality, according to an L.A. Times article.

 “Zampese was a work of art, or so the legend goes, a guy who could paint the town Trojan Red at night and be seen whistling at sunrise the next morning, a Daily Racing Form folded under his arm, a soda in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Let’s just say he wasn’t headed for biology class.”

In 1953, he was the CIF Player of the Year at Santa Barbara High School.

Zampese was an assistant for the San Diego Chargers under former USC assistant Don Coryell from 1979-86. He then became the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator from 1987-93.

He became the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys from 1994-97, winning the Super Bowl XXX in 1996. He was the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator from 1998-99.

15 thoughts on “USC Halfback/NFL Guru Ernie Zampese Dies

    1. My coach, Marv Goux, was the greatest Yrojan of them all. He bled Trojan blood!
      A great USC player, but a better Trojan coach.
      He was the Greatest motivator I ever have seen. From daily practices, locker room pep rally’s to pre game stadium talks, there was.
      none better! It was an honor and privilege to be around him.. Ask any other Trojan football player, and they’ll say the same thing! Every Trojan fan would be motivated for life if they heard a Marv Goux “ It’s great to be a Trojan talk.”
      I remember in a Home Coliseum game, Coach Goux came into our locker room and slammed the door an said..”We closed the gates, our opponents can’t get out. This is our great home! It’s time punish the enemy and never let them out! We want a complete Trojan victory!
      It worked. I never lost a game in the Coliseum and only 2 in my 4 years at USC!
      33-2-2 and a National Championship in 1967.
      I was so thankful that I was coached snd motivated by the Great Trojan Marv Goux!
      Bob Jensen
      #51 LB
      1969 CoCaptain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In Other News…USC Trojan Ernie Zampese passed away.

        Service eulogy will be given by Pat Haden and will be all about Marv Goux


  1. I am glad I am a nobody, and will eventually check-out of this joint with little fanfare. People who know me would only show-up at my funeral if I left checks for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. C’mon LJ. People will show for your funeral. Just make sure you have a nice spread at the reception following the funeral with an open bar. That’s the ticket.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Horse, you are always thinkin’ and I am always drinkin’

        No wonder you come up with better ideas than I can.


  2. My Marv Goux story was a funny one. In 1971 went to work with a few of my fraternity brothers for USC in University Affairs, which was the fund raising arm for the school (we called it “fun raising”).
    We worked out at lunch quite a bit including playing a lot of racquet ball in the old Bovard gym. One day Goux walks into our court with John Hubbard president of the University and says “let’s play doubles”. I think he was in his 50’s at the time but somewhat out of shape so my partner and I kind went through the motions not really trying. Goux stops the game and says “ hey AH’S this guy might be president of the
    University but down here is just another turd”. So we really started trying because we were afraid Goux would have kicked our butts if we didn’t…..true story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely true with Coach Goux’s words!
      I was called out many times on the practice field.. by the Coach..Not in any games!
      He saved that for our opponents!
      For which he had great respect for, because they were football players and put their bodies on the line during the game.
      Coach McKay was the President, but Marv Goux was his “Patton”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My brother played baseball at USC and he said Goux was a big asshole that he didn’t give a shit about the baseball team and always made the players move out of their area where they did batting practice so the lineman could work out there. Also I don’t know why you bring up Goux when we’re talking about Ernie Zampese. As far as I’m concerned Zampese was more successful than Goux ever was. I didn’t realize Zampese played for Usc I don’t ever remember all the years of watching NFL football any of the announcers saying that he was an ex- USC player. That being said I don’t wanna take anything away from Goux he clearly was an unbelievable inspirational coach that was involved in numerous national championships with the USC football team


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