Coach David Shaw took the stage today as the first Stanford coach in history to lead a Cardinal team picked to win the conference in the preseason media poll. Here are the best highlights from his time on stage at Pac-12 Media Day 2.
“In case you didn’t know, my name is David Shaw. I’m the head football coach here at Stanford.”
As usual, Coach was in a very good mood in L.A. That seems to be the case whether it’s in season or out of season.
Question: “You guys finally get picked by us knuckle heads to win the conference. Is that gratifying?”
DS: “It just truly shows that you guys have no idea what you’re doing.”
Question: “Christian is obviously so good at everything. Are you going to try to lighten the load for him at all?”
DS: “Are you kidding me? I’m going to start giving him some of my responsibilities.”
“Bryce is going to go from a spot player to being a full-time player for us.”
Question: “How willing are you to let the quarterback competition go into the regular season?”
DS: “I’m very willing. I think one of the things that we’ve learned through our many trials, and we’ve had multiple quarterback competitions over the 10 years I’ve been at Stanford, you’ve got to let it play out. You can’t make it go the way you want it to go, and until it plays out, you don’t make a decision. Some people may have anxiety in that, and I don’t, because as I said at the outset, it’s not just about the quarterback, it’s about the other guys who help the quarterback be efficient…..
Do not be at all surprised if the quarterback competition plays out over the course of the Kansas State game. The Cardinal gets a bye right after, setting up the chance to name a starter and give him two weeks to get ready for the Pac-12 season opener against USC in week 3.
Question: “With all the effort you guys have put into player safety and conditioning, how surprised are you to hear about the lawsuit that you guys got named in recently?
DS: “I’m not even going to comment about that. One thing I will say, there’s nobody in college football that’s done more for research, for-in practice, evaluation of all injuries. There’s nobody that’s done as much as we have. I mean, that’s our primary goal. These are our kids. These are our guys. We want to take care of them. We do everything we can to make this game as safe as we can for them. It’s not necessarily--I mean, it’s a contact sport. It’s a physical sport. It’s a tough sport. It’s a hard sport. But I also think it’s as safe as it’s ever been, and in particular at a place like ours.”
Given that news of this lawsuit broke recently, I was surprised Coach Shaw offered as much as he did in response. It doesn’t necessarily seem like the program under Shaw is the focus of the lawsuit, but it will be interesting to see to what extent this story remains on the radar during the season.
Question: How do you as a coach plan to get better this year?
DS: “I’m a very self-critical person, so I’m always looking at my role, not just everybody else’s role...Schematically, I’m always studying other people and saying, okay, this is what we do, what do other people do….This past year I had long conversations with Chip Kelly. We changed our entire practice schedule for the week last year...to more of what Chip did, which was players’ day off on Sunday, light practice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, just like we always do, tough and physical, but then off the field on Thursday, and then fast practice on Friday...Shannon Turley did a lot of studies, and I talked to Chip, and I’m like, you know what, we’re just going to do it, we’re going to change it….So I think being willing to change, being willing to grow and being willing to ask questions of other people...we’re all probing other people.”
To me, this may have been the most revelatory moment of the day. Observers have notices some significant changes in Coach Shaw, both inside and outside the program, and this quote should give Cardinal fans faith that the right man is in charge of this program. Accused of being overly stubborn, it’s pretty clear that while he sticks to his core convictions, he’s been willing and eager to adapt and to look outward for any advantage possible. The fact that he went to Chip Kelly and revamped his own practice schedule, something most coaches are fanatically inflexible about, speaks volumes about where he’s at as a coach. It’s why it’s been hard to muster any real anxiety over things like the quarterback competition or the revamping of the offensive line. There is a firm sense of confidence (that he elaborates on here) that strongly suggests the Cardinal is exactly where it needs to be at this point in the offseason. On a sunny summer day in Hollywood there wasn’t much to “win” for Stanford, but all signs strongly suggest that a very special fall may be on the horizon.