Clardy's Corner: Being like Duke (basketball)

By game's end on Saturday afternoon, the Stanford Stadium scoreboard read: Cardinal 57, Spartans 3. Based on that alone, I'd say that David Shaw's debut as the Stanford head coach was a rousing success. But still, it's only one game. And David Shaw, Class of 1994, all of 39 years old, has a lot of work to do and a long way to go.

It's way too early to speculate as to what Shaw's legacy may be as Stanford's head coach, but when the Card head to Durham this weekend to take on the Duke Blue Devils, Shaw shouldn't need to look far for inspiration on what his mission should be.

Granted, he'll obviously need to leave the walls of Wallace Wade Stadium for this search. After all, Duke football spent last Saturday losing to Richmond. Yes, Richmond. An FCS school. Yuck.

But when Shaw looks elsewhere on the Duke campus, he'll find a program that not only succeeds, but exhibits long-term domination in a sport in which it has no real business being competitive. A program that attracts great athletes despite—or even because of—its high academic standards. A program that has a small, but devoted fan base that creates an incredible home advantage for its team. A program that has national respect with the hardware to match.

Stanford needs to become the Duke (basketball) of college football. This should be David Shaw's mission.

Normally, whenever people think of "Stanford vs. Duke", they think of basketball. Given some of the results those two have produced in their meetings on the court, rightfully so. I can still hear Bob Murphy's radio call after a Cardinal win over the Blue Devils in 1999. ("Stanford beats Duke! Stanford beats Duke, folks!")

And of course, everyone remembers Stanford's amazingly incredible comeback win over Duke at the Oakland Coliseum the following year. If Andrew Luck throws a touchdown pass this Saturday, I'll be looking to see if Tiger Woods is jumping up and down in the background.

I can hear some of you groaning now. "Be like Duke? But I hate Duke!" And that's fine. I'm indifferent towards them, but many people nationwide can't stand Duke basketball. The Duke folks themselves probably couldn't care less. You don't need to care what others outside of your fan base think when you have the titles, the hardware, and the history behind you.

But if Duke—Duke, of all schools—can attain those things, then it's not unreasonable to think Stanford can't achieve similar status in college football. The question is, can it happen under David Shaw? As of now, there is little reason to think that it can't.

Not that Bob Bowlsby needed my endorsement, but when he tapped David Shaw to become the new Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football, it made a lot of sense to me. It wasn't a sexy or controversial hire, but this time, it didn't necessarily need to be. Unlike the last few times it was in this position, Stanford didn't need to reinvent the wheel and start the program over from scratch. And Shaw not only "got" Stanford, he got his diploma from Stanford.

When Jim Harbaugh came to The Farm, many hoped he would stay for a while. Some hoped he would become Stanford's answer to Joe Paterno (which, now, may be a bad example). Even with that wishful thinking, right from jump it seemed that Harbaugh's long-term future on The Farm was in doubt.

No such questions seem to exist with David Shaw in that corner office at Arrillaga now. After all, this is home for him. And if all goes well, I would imagine that Shaw will be here for a long, long time.

That doesn't mean there won't be any questions surrounding David Shaw going forward. Normally, the new head football coach is the face and voice of his new program, and the players take a backseat. (I'm experiencing that in Pittsburgh right now.) But this isn't a normal year for Stanford, and the face and voice of the Cardinal is the quarterback, Andrew Luck. Given that, how will Shaw respond after Luck is gone and when the focus is squarely on him? And how will his program be ready to compete while Luck is taking snaps for the 49ers?

A head coach needs to put his brand on a program and mold it into a distinct identity. Tyrone Willingham's teams largely mirrored his measured style, playing with a controlled and resilient determination. Jim Harbaugh's teams were unapologetically aggressive, never shied away from combat, and took great delight in beating their opponent into submission.

This works the other way, too. Buddy Teevens' teams had good intentions, but were all over the place on game day. Walt Harris' teams were too robotic and rigid for their own good.

What will this program's identity be under Shaw? Right now, I don't know. And right now, it's too early to say. But if this program becomes known as the Duke of college football under David Shaw, I'd imagine we could all be very content.

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This may be the Pac-11 apologist in me, but if LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner aren't spending much of the second half cramping up and unavailable to the Ducks, I think Oregon beats LSU

Of course, Oregon would also have been helped out a bit if CB Cliff Harris hadn't decided to do his best Jimmie Johnson impression…

Two fumbles on back-to-back touches in college football's national game of the week. Tough way to begin a career, De'Anthony Thomas…

Looks like Sacramento State can finally compare notes with UC Davis on what it's like to beat a Pac-11 team in their own place. What a terrible loss for Oregon State

Long-time readers of these Corners know that I'm a fan of Washington State QB Jeff Tuel. Very disappointed to see that he suffered a broken clavicle and is out for six weeks, at least…

I'll say it right now: U$C is nowhere near as tough as they were just three years ago. Physically or mentally…

Remember when Washington had a physically imposing defense that got after it on every snap? It seems so long ago. Especially after watching them chase Eastern Washington around the park in a narrow Husky win…

Was flipping through the channels the other day and I came across Airport 1975. How come nobody told me Jim Plunkett made a cameo in that flick?

Gus Johnson calling Pac-11 games? I'm in…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… am I one of the few people who thinks South Florida's win over Notre Dame wasn't an upset? Don't be too surprised if the Bulls win the Big East…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… for the last two years, I've been saying that the most electrifying college QB you've never heard of is Baylor's Robert Griffin III. After Friday's thrill ride of a game, that doesn't apply anymore. Now the whole country knows about Robert Griffin III. Wow. I have never seen a Gary Patterson-coached defense get shredded like that. Ever…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… Maryland's uniforms look like somebody used a white shirt to wipe the floor after a typical day at Lindsay Lohan's house…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… I don't know if I've mentioned this before in these Corners, but if I have, it bears repeating: the NFL Red Zone Channel is the greatest TV channel known to man. If you don't have it, get it. Now. And enjoy your Sundays…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… you hear that, Houston Texans? That's the sound of the door to the AFC South swinging wide open for you…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but…if you made the case that Beck's "Loser" is the greatest song of the ‘90s, I wouldn't argue. Still a great song after all these years…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but…if you are a cable channel that cannot air profanity or excessive violence, why are you wasting everyone's time by showing Scarface? Hardly seems worth the point…

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CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX Thanks to those of you who checked in on the Inbox last week! Good to hear from you all again. Isn't it great to be back in football season?

I'm not on Twitter, so if you have a thought on this Corner, you'll have to drop me a line the old-fashioned way: either at my inbox (username: troyc)... or e-mail me at

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Once again this season, I'll be picking all the conference games. In keeping with Clardy's Corner tradition, I will not pick games involving Stanford. I will still pick games involving U$C, even though they're not eligible and will otherwise go largely ignored in these Corners.

And of course, these picks are entertainment purposes only. So there.

cal @ Colorado. I am leery of cal's capabilities of doing anything good on the road, and Folsom Field can be a bit unkind to its opponents (as those who remember 1990 can attest). I'm very leery of the Buffaloes' chances in their new conference this year, but I still smell an ambush. I like Colorado by four.

Utah @ U$C Big matchup in the Pac-11 South, although it doesn't mean anything thanks to U$C's malfeasance. Basically, it boils down to this: I don't trust the Trojan defense in the second half. Jordan Wynn is a capable QB for the Utes. And oh by the way, Utah's new offensive coordinator is some guy named Norm Chow. Hmmmm. I like Utah by nine.

Last year: 23-13 (straight-up), 16-20 (ATS).

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Troy Clardy is in his 19th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. Beginning its 10th season of Cardinal commentary, Clardy's Corner appears Wednesdays during the college football regular season on You can also check him out online at, or e-mail him at

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