BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Family and close friends of former Southern football coach and athletic director Marino Casem celebrated his life with a funeral ceremony Saturday, May 2.
Casem, known as “The Godfather,” died Saturday, April 25 at the age of 85 after battling Parkinson’s. The funeral was much smaller than it might have been if not for COVID-19 and the stay at home order. Casem and his wife, Betty, were married for 63 years. A graduate of Xavier in New Orleans, Casem’s passing was not related to the coronavirus.
Fans and friends who couldn’t be included in the service were allowed to pay their respects with a parade of vehicles before the burial at Green Oaks on Florida Boulevard.
Most of his college coaching was done at Southern’s SWAC rival, Alcorn State, where he won 139 games and four black college national championships for the Braves after starting at Alabama State for a single season. Casem was named SWAC Coach of the Year seven times from 1968 to 1984 and was inducted into both the National Football Foundation and Black College halls of fame.
Casem won 18 games for the Jaguars in his two years at Southern before becoming athletic director. He sent players like Rufus Porter, Maurice Hurst, and Michael Ball to the NFL in that short span wearing the headset for Southern. “The Godfather” was known for his sense of humor and big laugh but also being a tough taskmaster with some harsh practice tactics and some always entertaining, if not always G-rated, locker room talks.
Casem still ranks in the top 10, right behind another Jaguars great, Pete Richardson, on the list of most wins by a SWAC coach. Ace Mumford and Grambling’s Eddie Robinson, a Baton Rouge native, top the list of SWAC legends.
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