Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - January 14, 2011

Being head coach is now his business

Former Cardinal David Shaw takes over as Stanford's 34th head football coach

by Rick Eymer

David Shaw was set to join the business world after his graduation from Stanford in 1995. Coaching was the last thing on his mind.

The business world is still waiting for him to make an appearance.

Shaw, who served as offensive coordinator this season, was introduced Thursday as Stanford's 34th head football coach and the first Cardinal grad to lead the team since Paul Wiggin left following the 1983 season.

"My father (former NFL and college coach Willie Shaw) was a big influence on me and even while I was still playing I'd help the other receivers. They started referring to me as coach Shaw," Shaw said. "I always said I would never coach. I was going to get my Stanford degree and go to work. I had started a trajectory in the financial world and some opportunities."

Before he could take advantage of his business opportunities, then-Western Washington coach Rob Smith offered Shaw a job on his staff.

"I thought maybe I could stay in football just a little bit longer," Shaw said. "I could find a real job later. I still had this itch."

Sixteen years later, he earned his first head coaching position at exactly the place he wanted.

"The mindset I want is for this to be my last job interview," Shaw said. "I want to be part of the 25-year club like Tara VanDerveer or Dick Gould. My focus is on how great we make this place. I love this place and I'm eager to pick up where we left off. Two good years is not enough. We're aiming for consistency."

Shaw succeeds Jim Harbaugh, who left to become head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

"This is the most logical step we can take," Bowlsby said. "David has the experience, intellect, coaching skills and organizational abilities to be a tremendous head coach. He understands and embraces the combination of world class academics and world class athletics that is required at Stanford."

After Harbaugh took the 49ers' job last week, Stanford contacted Boise State coach Chris Petersen and interviewed Yale coach Tom Williams, another former Stanford player. Stanford assistant head coach Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio were also candidates for the job.

"He's a proven recruiter and has great NFL and college experience," Bowlsby said. "He has tremendous communication skills."

As the team's offensive coordinator the past four seasons, Shaw played an instrumental role in the resurgence of the Stanford program that has established school scoring records each of the past two seasons.

Stanford was the ninth-highest scoring team in the nation this season, averaging 40.31 points a game, scoring a school-record 524 points during its 12-1 season that culminated with a victory over Virginia Tech in the 2011 Orange Bowl. The point total surpassed the previous record of 461, established by the 2009 team.

During Shaw's tenure as offensive coordinator, the Cardinal scored 40 or more points in 11 games since the 2007 season, including 10 times over the past two campaigns.

"He's a guy I love to play for," Stanford safety Michael Thomas said, one of several players who attended the announcement. "No matter whom they chose from the staff it would be a good choice. Coach Shaw is a Stanford guy and knows what it takes. He's cool and collected. Stanford is in good hands."

Bowlsby said he had meetings with players to get their input into the process. He also said he spoke to four members of the current coaching staff and had three "long conversations" with outside coaches.

Even though it was Stanford's passing game that drew most of the attention this past season, the Cardinal running game flourished under Shaw's tutelage. Despite the loss of consensus All-American and Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart, Stanford averaged 213.77 yards on the ground, which ranked second in the Pac-10 and 17th nationally. The Cardinal amassed 2,779 yards on the ground this season, which was the second-highest rushing total in school history.

Shaw tutored five running backs — Stepfan Taylor, Anthony Wilkerson, Tyler Gaffney, Usua Amanam and Jeremy Stewart — who combined to rush for 2,063 yards in 13 games, an average of 158.6 yards a game. Last season, Gerhart averaged 143.9 yards per game while Stanford as a team averaged 218.2 yards on the ground.

Taylor's final rushing total of 1,137 yards was the second-highest total in school history, trailing only Gerhart's senior total of 1,871.

"To attain our goals we have to be even better than last year," Shaw said.

Shaw joined the Stanford coaching staff in 2007 as the team's offensive coordinator after serving in the same capacity at the University of San Diego, also under Harbaugh.

"First and foremost coach Harbaugh personified in a human the way I always thought," Shaw said. "That is no matter what we are doing, we are competing every single day against somebody, even if it's in the weight room."

Shaw also has nine years of NFL coaching experience with the Philadelphia Eagles (1997), Oakland Raiders (1998-2001) and Baltimore Ravens (2002-05).

Shaw's most recent coaching job in the NFL with Baltimore included a stint as the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach from 2002-04 before working solely with the wide receivers in 2005.

"When I left the Ravens I thought about taking a year off," Shaw said. "A good friend of mine told me about this coach at San Diego and how we saw things exactly the same."

After three seasons of quality control with the Oakland Raiders from 1998-2000, Shaw moved into the role of quarterbacks coach in 2001 as the Raiders won a second straight AFC West title and finished the regular season with a 10-6 mark.

Shaw began his coaching career at Western Washington, where he coached the outside linebackers in 1995 and the tight ends in 1996.

A four-year letterwinner at Stanford from 1991-94 as a receiver, Shaw was a member of Stanford's 1991 Aloha Bowl team coached by Dennis Green that finished the season with an 8-4 mark and was the third-highest scoring team in school history. He was also on the Cardinal's 1992 Blockbuster Bowl winning squad coached by Bill Walsh that had a 10-3 overall mark. Shaw finished his Stanford career with 57 catches for 664 yards and five touchdowns.

David's father, Willie, was an assistant coach at Stanford from 1974-76 and again from 1989-91. He coached for a total of 33 seasons, including 15 in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams.

Shaw also competed in a varsity track meet and a varsity basketball game while at Stanford before graduating in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in sociology.

A native of Union City, David and his wife, Kori are the parents of three children, Carter, Keegan and Gavin.

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