Imagine Alabama’s football coach stepping to the podium at Southeastern Conference media days and saying, “in case you don’t know, my name is Nick Saban. I’m the head coach here at Alabama.”
Or Ohio State’s Urban Meyer doing the same at the Big Ten even and then spelling his name “U-R-B-A-N” to reporters.
Yet, one prominent west-coast coach, at his conference’s media day, actually considered pinning his name tag to his shirt.
“In case you don’t know, my name is David Shaw,” David Shaw said. “I’m the head coach here at Stanford. You never know if there’s people from out of town.”
This tells you all you need to know about Stanford, Shaw, the Pac 12, and why Cardinal football can’t swing the hammer hard enough to ring the bell at the county fair.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Jim Harbaugh had the personality to captivate audiences and sell Stanford to the masses, but he bolted to the NFL before he could lead Palo Alto to the promised Farm.
Shaw, his able, soft-spoken successor, has been as good as any coach in America.
The problem is Shaw lacks the reflexive ability to yell “Are You People Not Paying Attention to our Friggin’ Record?!”
He gets pushed into campaigns too late, seemingly against his will, a couple weeks after Verne and Gary have decided the Heisman winner in a two-man straw poll on CBS.
Shaw screamed (as loud as he could) about the greatness of Andrew Luck and Christian McCaffrey, but only after the engraver had received the SEC’s final paperwork.
In fact, Shaw would be a really good golf analyst-whisperer: “Here goes our Heisman candidate on a downhill, left-to-right breaker, oooh, he left it short.”
Shaw is understated in a sport that sometimes requires bloviation. He just won’t do it, and that’s commendable…we think.
Donald Trump, now there’s a guy who could coach in the SEC. “We’ve got the greatest team, league, logo, mascot, I mean that. Unbelievable players. Amazing, astounding, incredible players.”
Shaw has won 54-14 games in five seasons, one fewer than Stanford recorded in 11 seasons from 1999 through 2009.
So why does he keep introducing himself?
In the Stanford era Harbaugh built from scratch starting in 2007, the Cardinal has never risen higher than No. 3 in the Associated Press poll.
Oregon has been No.1 in two different seasons, 2010 and 2012, and USC started No. 1 in 2012.
More incredibly Mississippi State, of all the puffed-up, overrated places, rose to No.1 in 2014.
Stanford has also had four players finish second in Heisman balloting since 2008.
Maybe it’s because, in part, Shaw said in July of McCaffrey: “He’s still barely in the top three in the Heisman this year, apparently from what people are saying, and that’s great, and that’s fine.”
No, David, that’s not fine.
Shaw’s early-season decency, humility and pragmatism might actually be hurting his program’s national profile, yet maybe that’s the proper trade-off for promoting quality football at a world’ class university.
“When people mention football schools, our name doesn’t come up,” Shaw says.
A question can be reasonably asked: why is that?
Stanford may still lead the world in innovation but, in football, it falls short in provocation.