Let me tell you why I think David Shaw is a great hire for Stanford Football. I watched his press conference this afternoon, and I'm convinced that athletic director Bob Bowlsby got it right. He could have gone with Vic Fangio, but that probably would've been just to keep him on staff. He could've reached outside the program, but that would've created serious concerns about continuity, and if there's one thing needed in the wake of Andrew Luck's decision to return, it's continuity.
First and foremost, Shaw brings fifteen years of coaching experience to his new position. After playing wide receiver for the Cardinal from 1991-1994, Shaw embarked on a coaching career that took him from the backwaters of Western Washington to the bright lights of the NFL in Philadelphia, Oakland, and Baltimore. After hitching his star to Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego, Shaw came along to Stanford when Harbaugh was given the head job in Palo Alto.
In his opening presser, Shaw spoke about how the team might look under his leadership. "Our schemes are going to be the same, they'll be very similar. We're gonna be aggressive on defense, we're gonna get after people on defense, we're gonna be aggressive on offense, we're gonna be a physical running team once again, we've got a pretty good quarterback that you might've heard of -- we expect great things from him as well." Sign me up for all of that.
But maybe the most exciting aspect of this hire is that Bowlsby chose a Stanford man. Shaw made it clear during his opening statements that this is his dream job, the only coaching job he's ever really wanted. For him, the Stanford job is a destination, not a stepping stone, and Bowlsby made it clear that Shaw's attitude towards the job was a key part of his thought process as he was sifting through his list of candidates. "Longevity is paramount," he said. "It was a combination of factors that led me to believe that David was the right choice, but longevity is certainly one of them."
Shaw explained his feelings like this: "I went into the interview process with the mindset that I wanted this to be my last head coaching interview ever. That's my goal. I want to be one of the "25 and Up Club" with Tara Van Deveer and Dick Gould. That's my focus -- this place, and how great can we make this..." At only 38 years of age, Shaw could be the face of Stanford Football for the next twenty-five years.
So today begins a new era of Stanford Football, and not just because there's a new man in the head coach's office. Bowlsby made it clear that the University sees the football program differently than it has in the past, admitting that, "I don't think you can call yourself the best athletics program in the United States unless you can win consistently in football and the sports that the media covers and the fans really follow." Agreed.
There will be lots of news flowing from the football office over the next few days, ranging from the completion of Shaw's staff (Fangio and Greg Roman are both expected to leave for NFL jobs, whether in San Francisco or elsewhere) to hoped-for commitments from some undecided recruits visiting campus this weekend. For now, though, all you need to know is this: David Shaw is the new head coach at Stanford University. And it is good.