The sign sits across the street from his childhood home, on the field where he once played and coached. "MARINELLI STADIUM," it says in big, block letters.
Rosemead High School in the Los Angeles suburbs dedicated its field in honor of 1967 grad Rod Marinelli, the Lions' head coach.
"It's phenomenal for our school and our community," said Matt Koffler, Rosemead's varsity football coach. "You can watch TV on Sunday and see a familiar face. Coach Marinelli is one of us."
Marinelli graduated from Rosemead in 1967. After playing a year at Utah, serving a year in Vietnam and playing three years at California Lutheran, he returned.
He taught history and coached football for two years at Rosemead before rising through the ranks -- Utah State, California, Arizona State, Southern Cal, Tampa Bay and now Detroit.
"He's probably the most unique person I've met in my life," said Gary Schram, a friend and former teammate. "What you see is what he is and who he is. I've talked to him throughout the last 40 years, since we graduated, and he is just a person who loves football. To Rod, football is just ... it's sacred. It's a religion. He just wants to make football better."
The school also installed a rock with a plaque by the field, a fitting tribute to a man whose motto is "pound the rock." Schram put in a 6,500-pound boulder, but he thought it wasn't big enough. So he took it out and put in a 14,000-pound boulder instead. Needed a crane.
"It's a great-looking boulder," Schram said. "It's more Rod."
NOTEBOOK:Coach Rod Marinelli once wrestled a bear. Yes, an actual bear. The summer between his junior and senior years of high school, he was cruising with a couple of his buddies -- Gary Schram and Don Gomez -- when they came upon a crazy promotion in the parking lot of a car dealership in Pasadena, Calif. Marinelli's buddies put up $5 each, and Marinelli climbed into a cage with the bear. "It was cold, the mat was all wet, and this bear was smelly, let me tell you," Schram said. "So we put the money up there, and in goes Rod. Rod did then what he does now: He went in to win. And let me tell you, he had that bear on his back in about 10 seconds."
Marinelli was 133 pounds as a high-school freshman (or 130 or 120, depending on who you talk to). But in less than a year, he was huge, something like 200. He was ripped. He loved to hit the weights. "He was solid," said David Manning, Class of '68. "It was scary when he took his shirt off."