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Alas, a university with a five-percent acceptance rate and an even more discriminating football recruiting process, Stanford has always primed itself for manufacturing student-athletes. The Farm is also known for welcoming distinguished coaches, like Pop Warner, Bill Walsh, and Jim Harbaugh. Since 2011, a fresher face would step foot onto campus – Stanford alum David Shaw.

Previously – in the pre-Shaw period – Stanford football experienced its glory days and its depressions. The 2010 (12-1) season under Harbaugh, for example, ignited hope for the program, while other seasons, like 1960 (0-10) and 2006 (1-11), were purely unforgivable and embarrassing.

Under Shaw, Stanford football resembles a phoenix among ashes, levitating itself from the label of a one-hit wonder to something more meaningful and symbolical to the Cardinal and the Pac-12 Conference.

Following the departure of Jim Harbaugh, who chose to reroute himself to the NFL as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Shaw knew that Harbaugh saved the best for last in 2010. But the relationship between Shaw and Stanford had already been broken in.

His father, Willie, is an ex-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach from Stanford. Furthermore, David himself played 42 games as a Stanford wide receiver from 1991 to 1994. Now 46 and in his eighth year as Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football, David Shaw is one of only three directors of football to spend more than seven years with Stanford – the other two being Pop Warner (1924-32) and John Ralston (1963-71).

With his stack of awards growing, David Shaw needs to be recognized and praised for how he’s done an about face at Stanford. That said, here’s a comprehensive review of Stanford football seasons under Shaw over the last eight years.

2011 (11-2)

Director of Offense: Pep Hamilton (current QB Coach at Michigan with ex-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh)

Director of Defense: Derek Mason (current Head Coach at Vanderbilt)

Notable results: Won 65-21 vs. No. 22 Washington; won 56-48 vs. No. 20 Southern Cal in triple OT; won 28-14 vs. No. 22 Notre Dame; lost 38-41 vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State

Andrew Luck: 6 games of throwing three-plus touchdowns, 5 games of throwing for more than 300 yards

Stanford defense allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards in eight games

Chase Thomas, Trent Murphy, Ben Gardner: 127 tackles, 37.5 TFL, 19.5 sacks

2012 (12-2)

Director of Offense: Pep Hamilton

Director of Defense: Derek Mason

Notable results: Won 21-14 vs. No. 2 Southern Cal, won 17-14 vs. No. 1 Oregon, won 27-24 vs. No. 15 UCLA (Pac-12 Championship), won 20-14 vs. Wisconsin (2013 Rose Bowl)

Duke, San Jose State outscored by Stanford, 70-30

Most turnovers committed in a win: 4 vs. Oregon State (Won 27-23)

2013 (11-3)

Director of Offense: Mike Bloomgren (current Head Coach at Rice)

Director of Defense: Derek Mason

Notable results: Won 31-28 vs. No. 15 Washington, won 24-10 vs. No. 10 UCLA, won 26-20 vs. No. 2 Oregon, won 38-14 vs. No. 11 Arizona State (Pac-12 Championship), lost 20-24 vs. No. 4 Michigan State (2014 Rose Bowl)

Week 2: Restricted Army to 49 passing yards

Week 11: Scored 42 points in first-half vs. Cal (Stanford WR Ty Montgomery caught 4 of Stanford QB Kevin Hogan‘s 5 touchdowns)

Tyler Gaffney finished with 1,709 yards, 21 touchdowns

2014 (8-5)

Director of Offense: Mike Bloomgren

Director of Defense: Lance Anderson

Notable results: Lost 5-of-6 match-ups against ranked opponents (Southern Cal, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon, Utah), won 45-21 vs. Maryland (Foster Farms Bowl)

The defense allowed fewer than 14 points to 6 opponents (shutout both UC-Davis, Army); allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards to 6 opponents (Washington State had -26 rushing yards vs. Stanford)

Maryland was out-rushed by Stanford, 206-17, in Foster Farms Bowl

2015 (12-2)

Director of Offense: Mike Bloomgren

Director of Defense: Lance Anderson

Notable results: Lost 6-16 vs. Northwestern, won 41-31 vs. No. 6 Southern Cal, won 38-36 vs. No. 4 Notre Dame, won 41-22 vs. No. 24 Southern Cal (Pac-12 Championship), won 45-16 vs. No. 6 Iowa (2016 Rose Bowl)

Scored 40-plus points in 7 different games

Achieved more first downs in the run game than pass game in 7 games (7 first downs by pass to 27 first downs by run vs. Cal, UCLA)

2016 (10-3)

Director of Offense: Mike Bloomgren

Director of Defense: Lance Anderson

Faced only one ranked opponent throughout the entire season (Lost 6-44 vs. No. 10 Washington)

Lost 5-10 vs. unranked Colorado team in Week 7, but scored 20-plus points in final 6 games

Week 9: Held Oregon State to 8 first downs

Run offense: 4 games with 300-plus yards

Pass offense: 9 games with 0-1 touchdowns; 11 games with fewer than 200 yards

2017 (9-5)

Director of Offense: Mike Bloomgren

Director of Defense: Lance Anderson

Went 3-7 against ranked opponents (Wins: No. 20 Utah, No. 9 Washington, No. 9 Notre Dame), includes losses in Pac-12 Championship (vs. No. 11 Southern Cal) and Alamo Bowl (vs. No. 13 TCU)

Offense: Achieved only 9 first downs against both Rice and San Diego State

Bryce Love: 2,118 yards, 19 touchdowns

Harrison Phillips: 98 total tackles, 17 TFL, 7.5 sacks

Finally, there will be some minor changes to coaching personnel this season, as Tavita Pritchard replaces Bloomgren as Andrew Luck Director of Offense. Opposite of Pritchard, Anderson will remain as Willie Shaw Director of Defense, who has been with Shaw since the beginning. Some more of Shaw’s long-time alliances at Stanford include Shannon Turley (sports performance), Mike Eubanks (recruiting) and Matt Doyle (football operations).

Additionally, Shaw’s 10-win average per season has helped prepare some of his Cardinal players for the NFL Draft. Most importantly, Shaw’s men win the hearts of many NFL scouts that look for both brains and brawn.

Active, Non-Free Agent NFL Players Coached by Shaw

QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (2012 NFL Draft: Rd 1, Pk 1)

Kevin Hogan, Washington Redskins (2016 NFL Draft: Rd 5, Pk 162)

RB Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers (2014 NFL Draft: Rd 3, Pk 94)

Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (2017 NFL Draft: Rd 1, Pk 8)

TE Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (2012 NFL Draft: Rd 2, Pk 34)

Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons (2016 NFL Draft: Rd 3, Pk 81)

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (2013 NFL Draft: Rd 2, Pk 35)

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys (2018 NFL Draft: Rd 4, Pk 137)

G David DeCastro, Pittsburgh Steelers (2012 NFL Draft: Rd 1, Pk 24)

DL Trent Murphy, Buffalo Bills (2014 NFL Draft: Rd 2, Pk 47)

DT Harrison Phillips, Buffalo Bills (2018 NFL Draft: Rd 3, Pk 96)

EDGE Peter Kalambayi, Houston Texans (2018 NFL Draft: Rd 6, Pk 214)

S Justin Reid, Houston Texans (2018 NFL Draft: Rd 3, Pk 68)

All stats provided by Sports Reference.

Shaw has always argued that the student-athlete dilemma isn’t about choosing academics over football or football over academics, but a cocktail of both. For example, Andrew Luck and David DeCastro, byproducts of Shaw’s first year as head coach, were the only two Cardinal to be drafted in the same round with engineering degrees. Mostly, Shaw has demonstrated that he’s more of a mentor than a head football coach and that methodology has paid off.

At the end of the day, Shaw’s worth every penny of his $5.6 million paystub in 2017, which was just $100,000 shy of former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher’s. To some, it’s a controversial figure, but Shaw’s the elixir to a conference that just saw its first half-billion dollars last year.

Unsurprisingly, some spectators are also saying that Shaw could be fired if Stanford doesn’t make an appearance in the 2018 Pac-12 Championship. Luckily, Shaw has a group of especially talented staff and players that will shun that pessimism.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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