David Shaw took the podium for the first ever Pac-12 football media day on Tuesday. Stanford's first-year head coach seemed right at home.
With Heisman Trophy runnerup Andrew Luck sitting to his left, Shaw wasn't about to get into much hyperbole as did his predecessor.
"We always look at every opportunity as if we have something to prove," Shaw said. "We work hard. We try to win every game we play. We're a humble group and this is our leader (Luck). He exemplifies that as far as how we do our work and how hard we work."
There are quite a few questions surrounding the Cardinal as it begins a new era. The defending Orange Bowl champions, though, already has some answers.
Luck, perhaps the nation's top college quarterback entering the season, has made it clear this will be his final season at Stanford. He's a redshirt senior, with a year of eligibility remaining, but he's on course to graduate and the degree is his goal.
"I'm doing this as my last college football season and approaching it as such," he said. "I haven't had any regrets. I love being able to represent Stanford University and I'm looking forward to doing that on the field this year."
The season opener arrives Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. when San Jose State visits Stanford Stadium.
Stanford was predicted to finish second in the new Pac-12 North Division in a poll of conference media members.
The preseason media poll has correctly picked the conference champion 27 of 50 times, including 10 of the past 11 years. Predictions involving Stanford have not always been accurate. In the 51 years of the conference media poll, Stanford has never been picked first, but has played in three Rose Bowls during that span.
Stanford returns 12 starters and 56 letter winners from last year's team that went 12-1 and beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, 40-12. The victory total was a school record and its final ranking of No. 4 was the programs' highest since finishing No. 2 in 1940.
In addition to Luck, running back Stepfan Taylor (1,137 yards last season), and first-team All-Pac-10 linemen David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin return to the offense.
Defensively, Stanford returns its two leading tacklers, inside linebacker Shayne Skov and outside linebacker Chase Thomas, as well as two of the conference's best safeties in Delano Howell and Michael Thomas.
Luck, who was recruited by Shaw, said his relationship with the coach has been solid throughout his career on The Farm.
"It always seemed that during my red shirt year, when I'm out playing, it would be coach Shaw who took me aside every now and then to say 'remember, you're preparing yourself to play. Don't just take these style team reps like they're nothing, and different little things along the way. He's been instrumental in teaching me the west coast system, and everything within this offense."
Stanford grads Elle Logan and Alex Osborne were selected by US Rowing to their respective U.S. National teams that will represent the country at the World Rowing Championships set to begin Aug. 28 in Bled, Slovenia.
Logan, an Olympic gold medalist, was named to the U.S. Women's Eight while Osborne was named to the Men's Eight.
Logan, who graduated in June, has become a mainstay of the U.S. Eight since helping the crew win the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. This year's world championships will mark the second straight time in which she will be part of the eight at the event, having captured gold last year in New Zealand.
She also earned a silver medal with the U.S. four at the championships in Poland two years ago.
Osborne will make his second career appearance at the World Rowing Championships, having previously rowed with the U.S. Eight in Poland. There, Osborne and the U.S. Eight finished third in the "B" final for an overall ninth-place finish.
Stanford sophomore Sydney Payne is among 25 players participating in the U.S. Under-20 national team camp at the Home Depot Center in Carson this week.
Payne is among six forwards in camp, which began Monday and continues through Sunday. Technical director April Heinrichs is using the camp as part of the evaluation process to determine the U.S. squad that will play in next year's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Uzbekistan.
Payne, 18, has been part of U.S. youth national-team pools since U-14, but this is her first at U-20.