Two years ago Stanford lost Jim Harbaugh to the NFL. This past year Stanford lost Andrew Luck to the NFL as well. When those two kinds of guys leave any program, there usually are some steps taken backwards. Thanks to Head Coach David Shaw, that hasn’t been the case for the Cardinal. Shaw has done a magnificent job since taking over. He was just named Pac 12 Coach of the Year for the second year in a row and with a win Friday night in the Pac 12 Championship Game he will have Stanford back in another BCS bowl and it will show the country that Stanford football is a force in the Pac 12 even without Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh.
David Shaw joined KNBR in San Francisco with Tom Tolbert to talk about how nice it feels to be named Coach of the Year in the Pac 12, if he lets his players have a voice in game planning and what they see on film, whether he thinks Stanford still feels like they have a chip on their shoulder, on the toughness needed to play at Stanford now, how much will change from the last meeting against UCLA to this weekend’s Pac 12 Championship and how big the kick was for kicker Jordan Williamson.
How nice it feels to be named Coach of the Year in the Pac 12:
“It’s very humbling because there are a lot of coaches in this conference that I truly respect and look up to and for those guys to vote for me, it’s really special and I take it to heart. Whenever your peers vote for you that’s more important than when fans or a committee gives you something. That means you’re looked up to by the guys you work with, work against and compete against. I really take that in high regard.”
If he lets his players have a voice in game planning and what they see on film:
“Absolutely. It is completely that way. I tell our guys all the time that if they do that just be ready to hear the words ‘no, no way and not going to happen.’ For us to be receptive it keeps these guys looking ahead and I want them to be proactive and I want them to look at film and say ‘hey here’s what I see coach, I would love to run this route.’ Especially quarterbacks, receivers and running backs and even linebackers sometimes, they see a certain protection and say ‘hey if I blitz this way I can get home.’ I like that as players if you feel completely invested in the way the game plan is put together it kind of makes you want to play that much harder because you each have a hand in it.”
Whether he thinks Stanford still feels like they have a chip on their shoulder:
“Absolutely. I always talk about the college football world and the college football view, it’s like a big cruise ship. In order to change a cruise ship it’s not going to turn and make a 90 degree angle. It’s going to be over the course of years. If we are productive and a good team for years upon years then we will be included in that group. We’re trying to get to our third BCS Bowl game in a row and honestly that is not enough. We have to kind of keep that standard extremely high around here in order to change those views and we have a guy this week and this Friday night going for history, Stepfan Taylor trying to break the all-time rushing record at Stanford. We want things like that happening where every year someone is doing something special because when Stepfan leaves it’s going to be the next persons turn to come in and make some big plays.”
On the toughness needed to play at Stanford now:
“It starts with the head coach and Jim set the standard about what we were going to be and how we were going to be there. We had an outstanding offensive line coach who I played with here at Stanford that set the stage initially and when he left Greg Roman and those guys worked extremely hard and they’re both with the Niners now, they kept that mentality going, they did a great job for Toby (Gerhart) and Mike Bloomgren has come in and taken the thing to the next level I think with our guys as far as making sure there’s a progression. We’re never staying the same, we’re always trying to get better, we’re always trying to improve and once you set the mentality then you recruit to that mentality. I think our guys, when they come in they know and we know right away if they fit or they don’t fit. If they don’t then that is fine and they will go play somewhere else. No matter how many stars you have behind your name there’s a mentality that we have here, there’s a toughness that we exhibit and there’s a way that we play and we’re going to find guys that play it the way we play.”
How much will change from the last meeting to this meeting against UCLA:
“Of course there are going to be some tweaks and changes on both sides but to insinuate that UCLA didn’t give their best is a complete slap in the face to Jim Mora who is one of those guys who is an ultimate competitor and couldn’t possibly think about doing that, that’s just not how he is wired and a lot of guys on that staff also. They’re amped up, they’re ready to go in that game but it just so happens that they missed some plays, we made some plays, the score got a little out of hand towards the end but this week is going to be completely different. They’re going to play their best game and we plan to play our best game also.”
On the importance of the winning kick by Jordan Williamson against Oregon:
“I don’t think astronomical would be overstating it. It was huge for his confidence, it was huge for our team and it was what had to get us over the hump. We needed something special to get us over the hump. Oregon had beat us twice in a row in very convincing fashion and we needed that victory against Oregon and it was an unbelievable kick by Jordan to get that thing in there.”
What it would mean to play for the Rose Bowl this season:
“I think it would be great, I think it would be so special because you’re talking about a year to where we just received an award for achievement in academics. To be a Rose Bowl team, a BCS team on top of that it’s something that just doesn’t happen to Stanford and to cap that off in the same year I think would be phenomenal.”