Official word is still yet to come from the Athletic Department, but The Bootleg learned early Sunday afternoon that Stanford Football head coach Buddy Teevens had been fired. We reported the breaking news first on our premium football message board for our subscribers. Several hours later, ESPN's Ivan Maisel (former Stanford Daily writer) followed with a report. Other news outlets have echoed reports since.
The lines of communication and organization at Stanford have been somewhat chaotic in the last 24 hours, as the fire came at an awkward time. Sunday was the first day on the NCAA recruiting calendar that coaches could go on the road to make in-home visits with prospective student-athletes. November 28 through January 29 (excepting a few blackout periods) marks the only time all year that college coaches can go off their campus and visit with recruits on the road. Most of the Cardinal assistant coaches started yesterday a three-week itinerary that had been planned for weeks to hit all of Stanford's top recruits. Each school is allowed six in-home visits to a recruit during this period, with no more than one per week.
The chaos this timing brings could have deleterious impacts on the 2005 recruiting class. Though some observers may have assumed that the Cardinal's recruiting prospects had wilted with late-season losses on the field, many pieces were in place to make this a surprisingly strong class - particularly at some acute positions of need. However, as recruits were met yesterday and will be met today and in the coming days, as currently scheduled, by assistant coaches who have varying degrees of emotional stability and focus, things could crumble.
One committed recruit was visited yesterday by a Stanford assistant who was a certainty to not be retained by the next regime. That assistant unilaterally delivered a neutral (at best) message to the Cardinal commit. "All the coaches have been fired... I'm interviewing for a new job... Do what you need to do..." Afterward, the recruit and his mother were both shaken and were considering reopening his recruitment. It will take a stabilizing influence by Stanford administrators and a yet-to-be-determined residual coaching contingent to keep all commits on board. Fans should not underestimate the great personal loyalty these recruits have to Teevens.
Stanford has scheduled between five and seven recruits to make their official visits to The Farm this weekend. Cardinal commits making their official trip include Ben Ladner, Chris Marinelli and Fred Campbell. Defensive line commit Matt Kopa was slated as of last week to visit the weekend of December 10, but after his high school team ended their season this past Friday with a loss in the playoffs, there was a possible change to this weekend. Uncommitted recruits include tight end Ayanga Okpokowuruk and linebacker Darryl Sharpton. Safety Anthony Scirrotto was tentatively scheduled to come Saturday night after his high school team plays in their state championship game that day, though his plane ticket may not yet be booked - parts of his admissions application have not yet arrived at Stanford from his high school.
The ultimate impact of the Teevens firing on this recruiting class could go either way for Stanford. The relationships he and his assistants had built with a wealth of top recruits all over the country will be lost, though we will be watching closely to see who Ted Leland asks to continue in a leadership capacity in recruiting these next few weeks. The bounce that a class may receive from a new head coach can also be tremendous. It is very attractive for recruits to get in on the ground floor with a new coach who is looking to establish a new identity for his program. There will also be some recruits who were deterred by Stanford's losses late this season, who might now brighten their outlook on the Cardinal with a coaching change.
It is not clear that all of the Cardinal coaches have been directly contacted by Athletic Department officials or Teevens to officially disseminate the news of the head coaching change. As of the time this story was filed this morning, the Stanford players had not yet been officially contacted by any Stanford personnel with news either. Many players and some coaches directly or indirectly learned of the firing from The Bootleg. We expect news to come officially from Stanford today. A press conference has been set for this afternoon, for the media only.
Buddy Teevens replaced Tyrone Willingham in January 2002 with an intent to accelerate the strength of Stanford's recruiting efforts, which were lax under Willingham. Teevens had worked for three years with Steve Spurrier at Florida and held a reputation as an offensively minded coach, which is an important part of the legacy of Cardinal Football. The offense underperformed each of the last three years on The Farm under Teevens' direction, which included three different offensive coordinators. The defense had brighter moments, and I actually believe the 2004 defense was the best at Stanford since the famed 1992 squad, but the drag of the offense consistently sank the team on Saturdays. The 2002 season ended with a five-game losing skid, as did this year's results. The 2003 team finished with three straight losses, all deeply disturbing to fans. Though the 2004 season showed a number of improvements that kept almost all games competitive - several losses just a couple plays away from becoming wins - the closing statement was a 41-6 beatdown by Cal in the Big Game. That loss and the shutout at UCLA (far and away the worst defensive team in the conference) ultimately outweighed any incremental improvements this fall under Teevens.
His final record at Stanford stands at 10-23, with a 5-19 showing in conference play. Wins away from home were even harder to come by, as Teevens won just two of 16 games on the road during his three years. His lone Pac-10 road victory came this year at Washington State.
The next question on all Cardinalmaniacs™ minds is who will be the "next guy." There were already movements underway by the administration to select members of the Search Committee before the firing transpired. The committee will include members of the University as well as the Athletic Department, including former Stanford players.
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