Harbaugh is so taken with Marecic that the coach recently wrote a 900-word prepping-for-battle tribute to him—peppered with quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ernest Hemingway—and read it to the team before the first day of practice. A sample passage: "Now is the time to think of only one thing, that which I was born for. The thousand times that I've proved it meant nothing. Now I am proving it again."
In his office Harbaugh keeps one of the several helmets Marecic has cracked while at Stanford. At Harbaugh's request Marecic signed the helmet, along with words he lives by: TODAY GIVE ALL THAT YOU HAVE, FOR WHAT YOU KEEP INSIDE YOU LOSE FOREVER.
Marecic doesn't get what the big deal is. "These things happen," he says of the busted helmet. "I don't see the glamour in it." To others, it's obvious: It's just the kind of relic that would look at home in Stanford's Hall of Fame.
Now on SI.com
Stewart Mandel picks the winners of the biggest games every Friday at SI.com/cfb