No matter how you slice it, Stanford football has arrived. Though we've since assumed all the trappings of a football powerhouse – the three straight runner-up finishes in Heisman voting, the two straight BCS bowl berths and top-10 finishes, the top-ten 2012 recruiting class, or the eminent graduation of top pro prospect of the last decade – it wasn't that long ago that Stanford football was an afterthought.
On December 19, 2006, new athletic director Bob Bowlsby hired Jim Harbaugh, a former star quarterback, but an unproven coach who had never worked at the FBS level. The rest, as they say, was history.
We are pleased present Stanford football's 40 most memorable moments, trends, games and personalities from the magical five-plus years that followed that December 2006 announcement.
11. ESPN College Gameday Comes to Stanford
The Oval provides an iconic backdrop
Back in 2010, when ESPN's College Gameday first set up shop at a road Stanford game, it was a cool occurrence. But it wasn't mind-blowing, simply because it wasn't on the Farm. Autzen Stadium? They're used to that kind of hype. College Gameday at the Coliseum a year later? Nothing new for USC, either.
On November 12, though, Stanford hosted the extravaganza. The location (The Oval) was iconic. The Spanish-style arches of the hallowed campus awoke before sunrise to play host to the week's epicenter of college football. The occasion was unprecedented. The 4:30 a.m. wake-up the morning after a cross-country flight and Friday night San Francisco bar hopping was mandatory. Between the Gameday wake-up call, a morning at the Old Pro, afternoon tailgating, and the electric evening atmosphere at Stanford Stadium, the Farm had finally hosted an epic full day of college football.
Stanford creativity mixed well with customary College Gameday fan signs. One showed a pixelated Oregon Trail graphic reading "You have died of Andrew Luck." I guess that it's better way to die that way than of dysentery. Mixed in between signs written in binary code and mathematical symbols that even I (a Stanford graduate) couldn't understand, there was also this gem: "Cliff Harris Can't Smoke This Tree."
When it was all said and done, Lee Corso donned the Stanford tree costume, picking the Cardinal to win. That didn't happen, of course, but nonetheless, College Gameday's first visit to the Farm was a smashing success.
50-41. More memorable moments - Loukas, Luck, and a phantom clipping call
40. Fake out - Luck stuns UW with a naked bootleg in 2010
39. Polls and bowls - Stanford climbs into college football's beauty contests
38. Steamrolled - Card run for 446 yards in 2011 beatdown of UW
37. Opening act - 2009 win over Ducks launches a November to remember
36. Going bowling - Loss to Sooners doesn't ruin first bowl game since 2001
35. "Shut up and play football" - Cal jaws pregame, falls behind 45-0 in 2010
34. Look ma, no legs - Luck throws a 52- yard dart while in free fall
33. Sit down - Burfict's head leads to go-ahead TD, Wilkerson's ices W at ASU
32. Injury bug - Despite multiple injuries, 2011 Card manage to rally
31. Whale watching - Stanford starts recruiting at an elite level
30. Suck for Luck - The media machine anoints the next football savior
29. Outta my way - Luck bounces off Cattouse for a 50-yard run
28. 0 for 3 - Card post three shutouts in 2010 campaign
27. Laying the wood - Luck lays out Wright
26. Concussed - Owusu is knocked out of four games
25. Jumping ahead - A 21-3 lead vanishes in Autzen in 2010
24. So close, yet so far - Luck's worst game costs Card 2009 Big Game
23. Run, Toby, run - Gerhart takes over against the Irish
22. Xs and Os… and Ys and Zs - Stanford toys with defensive coordinators
21. "The perfect football player" - Marecic makes purists weep
20. Rumor Mill - Report: Harbaugh to take every NFL job
19. "What's Your Deal?" - Stanford hands USC worst home beatdown ever
18. Continuity Unknown to Mankind - Shaw named Harbaugh's successor
17. Whitaker Beats USC - Cardinal hand the Trojans another soul-crusher
16. We've Got the Axe - Stanford wins first Big Game in six years
15. Return of the Red Zone - Cardinal students populate the stadium in force
14. Blown Away - Stanford takes VT to the woodshed in Orange Bowl
13. Streaking - Stanford wins 10 straight games by 25+ points
12. Dance With Girl Who Brung Ya - Stanford settles for field goal attempt, blows Fiesta Bowl
David Lombardi, a TV and radio
(95.7 The Game SF) personality in the Bay Area, is a Stanford and Pac-12
Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on KZSU for
several years. You can check out several of his Stanford calls and
other writing at www.davidlombardisports.com.
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