As all of you know, the opinions expressed in Clardy's Corner are not necessarily those of The Bootleg and its fellow staff members, nor are they the opinions of the Stanford Athletic Department. That said, I'll just come right out and say it: Jim Fassel should be the next Stanford Football head coach. Apparently he would like to be here, and apparently Stanford is interested in him. To me, there are too many reasons why this would work.
Ted Leland made no secret during Monday's press conference that he'd prefer his next head coach to have an offensive background. That one's easy for Fassel. He's got 31 years of coaching experience, and 19 of them were spent solely on the offensive side of the ball, be it as a position coach or a coordinator. That works for me! By the way, the other 12 years of his career, he just happened to be the head coach.
Don't forget about Fassel's Stanford ties; he was an offensive assistant on The Farm for two seasons before serving as offensive coordinator from 1981 to 1983. As Mike Eubanks points out in his latest must-read article, Fassel worked with current Cardinal senior associate athletic director Darrin Nelson, who happens to be running the football program until the new coach comes in, and current Cardinal receivers coach Ken Margerum.
Oh, and while he was here, Fassel happened to recruit some kid named John Elway. You might remember Elway: pigeon toes, toothy grin, rifle arm, arguably the best college quarterback ever. John's work is Fassel's Stanford legacy. That's not a bad legacy to leave. Also, don't forget that Fassel resurrected John's career with the Broncos in 1993.
Obviously John has been on campus a bit more often lately with his daughter Jessica Elway playing hoops for Tara VanDerveer, but to my knowledge, John hasn't been to a game at Stanford Stadium since 2001. Many of you have been wondering how to get John Elway back into the Stanford Football fold, and I'd love to see that too. I'd love to see someone take the lead in making one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to take a snap play a role in the program's identity. Don't you think Fassel might be the best man for the job?
Money is an issue for Stanford. It might not be for Fassel. I'm sure he saved some dough from his days as the Giants' head coach, and I'm sure he's not necessarily working for chicken feed in Baltimore right now, either. Leland has already made it known that candidates who are coaching just for the money should look elsewhere. Money should not be the reason why Jim Fassel isn't Stanford's next head coach.
There are some rumblings that Fassel isn't the nicest guy to deal with at times. That's perfectly fine by me, because a nice guy isn't quite what Stanford needs right now. Stanford just had a nice guy roaming its sidelines (some folks say he may have even been a little too nice), and we all know how that turned out.
Accountability from the previous regime was an issue for some Stanford fans. You won't need to worry about that from the man who stood before the ever-forgiving New York media, took responsibility for a tough loss, promptly guaranteed that the Giants would make the playoffs, and told everyone to blame him personally if they failed. If that's not accountability, what is?
Any coach can make guarantees, but it doesn't mean much if the players all roll their eyes and don't believe in him. That's where leadership comes in. That's something else Stanford football needs right now. Strong leadership was lacking during
Ted Leland spoke often on Monday about "bringing people back into the tent" and getting people interested in Stanford football. I think that of the likely candidates, Fassel would do the best job of making Stanford football relevant and credible again. He will give this program a face that will be recognized not just here in the Bay Area, but to football followers nationwide. Don't underestimate the importance of star power in today's world. If the governor of California can have star power, why not the football coach at Stanford?
What about the other folks who are popping up on most everybody's short lists? I wouldn't be unhappy with Norm Chow, who appears to be the leading candidate as of right now. His offensive credentials are impeccable, and he seems to be one of the more respected coaches on the collegiate level.
But can he run the show? Can he do things other than X's and O's? Can he hang out with boosters and do all the other stuff that has to be done by the head coach? Can he be the face of the program? Those are big, big questions that, right now, we don't know the answer to. I don't think this program is sitting at a point right now where the next head coach can have unknowns in those critical categories.
Dan Hawkins could fit the bill, and apparently he'd talk to Stanford if they called. Walt Harris might, too. I don't know enough about guys like Pat Shurmur and Ray Sherman, although I do hear that Shurmur would probably be more of a players' coach. I'd love to see Tom Williams on this coaching staff one way or the other next year. Tyrone? Well, I'll address that in a bit.
This is a critical choice for everyone involved, and because of that, now is not the time to be sheepish. When it comes to the philosophy I think Stanford should take in this coaching search, I'll borrow the quote from my candidate of choice: "I'm raising the stakes right now. If this is a poker game, I'm shoving my chips to the middle of the table. I'm raising the ante. Anybody that wants in, get in. Anybody that wants out can get out."
I won't guarantee who the next Stanford Football head coach will be, but I guarantee you that I think Jim Fassel would be the best candidate for the job.
RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS
While I'm sad to see Buddy Teevens go, this was the decision that had to be made. It's possible that the way Stanford lost that game to UCLA might have set the wheels in motion for Buddy's departure, and things obviously didn't get better from there. Buddy is a class guy who cares about his players, but he just didn't win enough on Saturdays…
As for the return of That Guy to The Farm, it won't happen. I can't see any serious interest on either side. I don't think Stanford would be seriously interested because I'm sure Tyrone would command more than Stanford would be willing to pay. I don't think Tyrone would be seriously interested, either. I think the big reason he left Stanford (other than getting paid large cheddar) was because he felt like he had hit a glass ceiling of sorts. Stanford had gone 9-2 in 2001, and what was their reward? A berth in a second-rate bowl that doesn't even exist anymore. If Notre Dame goes 9-2, they're playing on or after January 1. I think that dichotomy frustrated Tyrone, and he needed that new challenge. Has Stanford's situation changed in three years? No. Would returning to Stanford be the challenge I think he's looking for? I doubt it. To me, Tyrone coming back would be like Clinton coming back for a third term. I wouldn't mind seeing it, but it would never happen. There will be no "Tyrone 2: Electric Boogaloo"…
Above anyone else, I blame Bob Stoops for this week's events at Notre Dame. In fact, Stoops is the very reason why college football head coaches are sleeping with one eye open these days. Stoops, of course, is the guy who took Oklahoma from a sad parody of itself to a national title. That story is nothing new, but the difference is that Stoops was hoisting the championship trophy at the end of his second season. Now everyone's looking for the next Bob Stoops. Some schools have gotten lucky (Utah, cal, U$C), but far more have failed. The timetable for success has sped up considerably for head coaches. Nowadays, every time head coaches turn around, they hear fans, boosters, athletic directors, and school presidents saying, "If Stoops can do it in two years, so can you"…
Now, is race the whole story behind Tyrone's dismissal? No. But I'd be naïve to think that it didn't play, at the very least, some small factor on some level. If Notre Dame did this because they legitimately felt that they had to, I have no problem with that. If there were extenuating circumstances surrounding this situation concerning family, agents, other jobs, or whatever, and Notre Dame felt they had to let him go because of those circumstances, I have no problem with that. But I do worry about the different messages that some people could potentially receive from Tyrone's firing. Some may think, "See? The black man can't be a head coach if given an opportunity at a major college. They got Notre Dame…what more do they want?" Young black coaches out there may think, "If Notre Dame gave Tyrone the boot the first chance they could, what chance do I have of making it?" Athletic directors at major schools might even be thinking, "Why should I hire a black coach if I'm going to take all this heat and go through all this trouble if I have to fire him?" Looking at Tyrone's firing strictly at face value, I don't read too much into it. But I really think that the repercussions of his dismissal and the way that it came down could go against black coaches for a while to come…
One final thought on race: the only color that really, really matters in college football is green…
So where was that offense all year, Arizona?
I was impressed by Sam Keller, who came in for Andrew Walter after he got knocked out of the game. Keller will be the Sun Devils' quarterback next year, and I thought he looked good, but his receivers will make him look even better…
Anyone else get the feeling that this might be the last time cal sniffs a Rose Bowl for a while? Outside of Marshawn Lynch, they don't have a lot coming back next year…
Radio programming note: this week's "Stanford Sports Weekly" will come your way on Thursday evening at 8:00 PM on KNTS 1220 AM. I'll post the usual guest list on the BootBoard tomorrow morning, but you can bet we'll talk coaching searches and renovated arenas. And one more thing: call the show! Hit me up at 800.516.1220… we have a lot to discuss…
U$C @ UCLA. This could be a dangerous game for U$C. The Bruins have had three weeks to plan for the Trojans, and they have the weapons to do some damage. But they've also had three weeks for the rust to accumulate. And I still don't trust the UCLA defense at all. I like U$C by 16.
Last week: 0-1 (straight up), 0-1 (ATS).
This year: 24-7 (straight up), 14-17 (ATS).
-- Got a thought on this column or on Stanford sports? E-mail me at email@example.com! The ones I like best will end up in next week's E-Mailbag.
Troy Clardy is a reporter for the Stanford Cardinal Farm Report, which airs Saturday mornings on Fox Sports Net Bay Area. Clardy hosts "Stanford Sports Weekly", which airs Wednesday evenings at 8:00 PM on KNTS (1220 AM) in San Francisco. He also hosts Cardinal men's basketball pregame shows on Stanford radio network flagship station KNEW in San Francisco, and "College Football Today" on KNBR 1050 in San Francisco.
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