No. 12 Stanford

Part of me wants David Shaw to coach at Stanford until his lips can't hold a whistle. In a world of coaching egos, creeps, money-grabbers and Will Muschamps, few coaches represent the mission statements of their schools better than Shaw.


He has done things (generally) the right way AND gone 73-22 at a place where, for decades, they said you couldn’t win that big.

Part of me wants David Shaw to go to the NFL if only because that’s his best path to ultimate, competitive glory. College football is not the playground, as currently constructed, to go 10-3 and expect to play for the biggest prizes.

In the NFL, however, he could spit out 9-7 and win a Super Bowl.

The way Shaw coaches, combined with Stanford’s academic standards and scheduling, just isn’t going to cut it in the current collegiate playoff flag.

The way Shaw coaches?[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

By that I mean he runs a steady-type NFL ship. His mindset leans cloth coat conservative with a philosophy to keep games close into the fourth quarter and then hope you win your fair share.

That’s fine in a sport where two or three losses don’t ruin your playoff chances.

That’s not fine in a system where it’s almost always necessary to finish with zero, or one, defeat and also play Chattanooga in mid-November.

Ohio State lost two games last year and did NOT make the playoff.

Again, if Shaw is happy with this Stanford set up, then so am I, yet it’s hard to see his program ever conquering a system that’s tilted toward strategically-crafted SEC powerhouses. Maybe Shaw's plan is to hold out for the eight-team playoff.

And so it goes…Stanford finished 9-5 last year and is poised for a similar-type, win-loss report. It could be as good as 12-2, 11-3 or as bad as 8-4.

Stanford can be super good, but probably not super great.

Stanford can win the Pac 12, even win the Rose Bowl, but probably not make the playoff.

Between Aug. 31 and Sept. 29, the Cardinal will have already played San Diego State, USC, at Oregon and at Notre Dame.


Shaw teams typically win--and lose--close games. Four losses last year were by 11 combined points, while the Cardinal tallied wins of one point (Oregon State), three points (Utah), three points (Cal) and eight points (Washington).

Shaw’s game-planning philosophy can be frustrating but, again, he’s perfect for Stanford if this is what Stanford wants.

(Psssst. It is).

The good news is there’s a decent chance Stanford can break its streak of having players finish second in Heisman Trophy ballot.

Bryce Love’s decision to return puts him square among this season’s early front runners. That said, he and the school will continue to fight goofy time slots, East Coast bias and the rise of an unexpected star ESPN and others would rather promote.

Love has already gotten some bad press for not showing up for Pac 12 media day in Los Angeles. Because he had a conflict with…summer school.

Stanford wonders why it can’t get any positive Heisman publicity?

So a tired narrative goes…

Oh, did we mention this is the year Stanford also plays AT Washington?[/membership]