First-year coach David Shaw had a number of challenges when he took over at Stanford for the 2011 season, one of which was how he going to follow Jim Harbaugh's 12-1 record a season before.
Shaw is a win a way from doing that and on Tuesday was honored as one of five regional FBS coaches of the year by the American Football Coaches Association, and is now a finalist for national coach of the year.
Shaw has guided the Cardinal to an 11-1 regular season record and No. 4 BCS ranking. Stanford will head to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2 for a contest with Oklahoma State (11-1).
The Cardinal have one of the most impressive offenses in the nation, ranking fifth nationally in scoring at 43.6 points per game while also being ranked 25th nationally in total defense (331.4 yards per game).
It will be a busy week for the Cardinal, as many players are up for national awards. Andrew Luck is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy (announced Saturday in New York) as well as the Walter Camp, Maxwell and Davey O'Brien Awards (Thursday in Orlando). Luck is also scheduled to be in Baltimore on Friday for the Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Jonathan Martin is a finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award (Wednesday in Houston), while his fellow offensive lineman David DeCastro is a finalist for the Outland Trophy (Thursday in Orlando). Walk-on turned starter, Griff Whalen, is one of three finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy (Friday in Arkansas).
The 2011 Regional Coach of the Year winners will be recognized at the AFCA Coach of the Year Dinner at the 2012 AFCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas. The dinner is scheduled for Tuesday, January 10, when the winner will be announced.
Football Bowl Subdivision Regional Coaches of the Year
Region 1: Dabo Swinney, Clemson University
Region 2: Les Miles, Louisiana State University
Region 3: Kevin Sumlin, University of Houston
Region 4: Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State University
Region 5: David Shaw, Stanford University