David Shaw, despite playing for Stanford coaches such as Denny Green and Bill Walsh, wasn't necessarily convinced he would follow his father, Willie Shaw, into the coaching business.
And then he decided to give it a try.
"For the longest time I did not want to coach," Shaw said following Monday's football practice. "My first year out of school, I wasn't ready to put on a tie."
Twenty-eight years and several coaching stops later, Shaw is preparing the sixth-ranked Cardinal (10-2) for its fifth consecutive bowl game, and his third as the head coach.
Pac-12 champion Stanford plays Big 10 champion Michigan State (10-2) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan. 1 at 1:30 p.m. Shaw coached the Cardinal to its second straight conference title, something that hasn't happened since 1970-71.
Shaw first stepped on the field as the linebackers coach at Western Washington in 1995.
"My first day on the job I couldn't imagine doing anything else," Shaw said. "It trapped me."
Shaw has helped transform the Stanford football program into an elite program for the first time since the days of Pop Warner and Clark Shaughnessy. No other time period has produced as many consecutive bowl appearances, nor as many wins.
It is no wonder Shaw has had to answer questions about leaving Stanford for the NFL in each of the past two seasons. Last year, it bothered him. This year?
"The rumors are flattering," Shaw said. "They don't bother me. It says a lot about our guys and the fact we have been successful. No matter what I say, the rumors won't stop."
Shaw, who has been an assistant coach in the NFL for eight years, acknowledged entertaining thoughts of becoming an NFL head coach. That was before the opportunity he received at Stanford.
"I never set a plan for myself," Shaw said. "But yeah, once I started doing something I wanted to be as good as I could be and get as far as I can get."
Producing NFL quality players is only half of it. Stanford has also continually produced NFL head coaches and assistant coaches, with the likes of Denny Green, Bill Walsh, John Ralston and Jim Harbaugh just the beginning.
"We have a very good structure here," said Shaw, who played in the 1991 Aloha Bowl under Green and the 1993 Blockbuster Bowl under Walsh. "We have a good way of recruiting people, not only good athletes and students but tough-minded people. We play a physical brand of football that works in rain or shine."
Stanford will get one of its biggest tests against Michigan State, arguably the best defensive team in the nation.
"I've watched a ton of film. They're very good," said Shaw, who stayed on campus to confirm the details of the Cardinal's stay in Pasadena while the coaching staff went on recruiting trips last week. "Our defense does not think about their defense. Both are good, very solid. Both teams have a lot of guys who are going to be good NFL players."
Defensive end Josh Mauro returned to practice and is cleared to play. Ben Gardner was ruled out of the Rose Bowl but he expects to be healthy in time for Pro Day in March.