Every fall, college students across the land settle back into a routine. They go to Target and buy half the store to outfit their dorm rooms. They buy their weight in "Top Ramen." They check in for class, stop at the team store and buy that necessary foam finger and Nike approved face paint. They meet on the quads and discuss revelries past and revelries future. And they talk about the team. Their team.
The student body of Stanford University are no different than any other college (save a G.P.A. point or two), and they have a lot to talk about.
USC is upset and looking to extract vengeance for the 55-21 drubbing they received last year. It's hard to work up the necessary hate needed for vengeance when you are not bowl season eligible, you're heading to "The Farm," and Lane Kiffin is your coach... for now.
The schedule is set up against the Cardinal with trips to Notre Dame, Oregon, Washington, Arizona State, and Cal Berkeley. Also, you have Andrew Luck ready to be let loose on the BCS.
Everybody knows about Andrew Luck and his talent, but it will be discussed again in depth. Conversations will dwell on who will take over for Toby Gerhart. Those conversations will devolve into arguments and factions will form with camps for 218-pound senior Jeremy Stewart and 216-pound sophomore Tyler Gaffney. Some will talk about the outstanding recruiting class Harbaugh finagled.
Most people aren't aware of the newly named Captain of the Cardinal football team. They should be. Coach Harbaugh certainly hasn't been keeping mum about how enthralled he is by Owen Marecic. Earlier this summer Coach Harbaugh claimed that Marecic is "The perfectly engineered football player."
If you looked closely, you saw Owen Marecic flash across your TV screen in front of Toby Gerhart, allowing him to devour defenders. Marecic, a bone-crushing Fullback, is listed at 6-1 and 245 going into his senior season. No matter the running back selected to trail Marecic through holes this year, their success will be predicated upon the blocking of Marecic.
"He is the perfect football player." Harbaugh said. "In all my 30-plus years I've been around the game, I've never seen a guy who does everything right the first time."
High and lofty praise, indeed.
Many have dismissed this as what has come to be known in the Pac-10 as "Harbaugh Hyperbole," dismissing Marecic as merely Harbaugh's pet project. Marecic may have been a pet project last year, but he will be the main cog for the Stanford running game as well as a key instrument of destruction on the defense. Coach Harbaugh challenged Owen Marecic many times throughout this summer. Trying to see where the kids breaking point was. He didn't find it.
For the young man's efforts and work ethic, Coach Harbaugh has also named him a starter at linebacker.
"If Owen were to be hurt," Harbaugh said, "we'd have two starters out instead of one."
Asked about how he felt to be named a starter on both sides of the ball, Marecic replied, "You have plenty of time to get work on both sides of the ball. You just may not have as much time to get water or hang out on the sidelines."
Harbaugh has admittedly said that the defense was what needed to come the farthest this offseason. An obvious statement to any of us who saw Wake Forest come back from a 17-3 score at halftime to win the game 24-17. Ask any BCS coach and they will tell you that they can sleep better at night having lost in a blow out, than they can when their team blows a 14-point halftime lead.
To ensure that end, he has placed Owen Marecic in a leadership position on both sides of the ball, as well as naming him one of the 3 captains of the team. A bold move by a coach that is typically reserved in his praise, criticism, and willingness to push a players limits.
Marecic won't win the Butkus award as College Football's premier linebacker. Nor will he shine on highlight reels with 20 yard runs out of the backfield. But if you pay attention this year, looking to the edges of your television screen, you will see a blur of cardinal and white leveling the opposition in a manner of controlled mayhem. And the success of the Stanford Cardinal this year will depend most heavily upon how much mayhem Marecic can provide.