Clardy's Corner - 12/6

It's the final Corner for us to enjoy from Troy Clardy this year. In addition to reflections on the Stanford season, some notes on the 109th Big Game, emails in his Inbox and happy holiday wishes, Troy authored a letter to the next Stanford Football head coach. He hit the wrong "send" key on his computer, allowing you to digest his welcome wagon for the new leader of football fortunes on The Farm.

December 6, 2006

Dear Mr. New Stanford Head Football Coach,

Hi!  This is Troy Clardy.  Stanford Class of '97, former pregame and postgame host for the Stanford football radio network, and current columnist for The Bootleg, which of course is The UnAuthorized Authority on Cardinal Sports.  It is my pleasure to welcome you to The Farm and to the Stanford Athletics family.

I have just completed my 14th year of following Stanford Football, and during that time I have just about seen it all.  When Stanford ran out of the tunnel at the 2000 Rose Bowl, I was there.  When Stanford beat cal in seven straight Big Games, I was there.  When Stanford got embarrassed by East Carolina in the freezing rain at the Liberty Bowl, I was there.  When Stanford lost to UC Davis, yes, sadly, I was there.

Now I can say that I have seen this team go through an entire season with just one win.  It's not something I'm proud of by any stretch.  Bob Bowlsby isn't proud of it either, which is exactly why you are here as the new Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football.

By accepting this job, it is apparent that you're not afraid of a challenge.  That's good, because you certainly have a bit of a challenge ahead of you.  Accordingly, I thought I might provide you with some tips that you might find useful as you settle into that corner office at Arrillaga.  As in, the Arrillaga Family Sports Center.  Not the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation.  Or the Arrillaga Alumni Center.

Perhaps that's your first tip: know your Arrillagas!

You have a chance to coach in one of the Pac-10's crown jewels of stadiums, one that is likely the envy of every other Pac-10 football facility outside of Eugene.  Take advantage of this in every way imaginable.

Find a way to keep your key players healthy.  Whether this means a different approach to strength and conditioning, or finding some magic potion that prevents season-ending injuries, I don't know.  But I do know that an injury epidemic will kill your team just like it did this year.

On offense, assuming Mark Bradford and Evan Moore move on, you might be best served by getting the ball into Richard Sherman's hands as often as possible.  On defense, endorse a scheme that dictates the tempo and forces the issue, no matter who the opponent is.

Get to know Richard Shaw, Stanford's dean of undergraduate admissions, and get on his good side.  He could very well hold the key to your program.

In dealing with the media, be sure to give Mike Eubanks the respect that he gives the program and his product.  You'll enjoy getting to know Ted Robinson, as professional a play-by-play announcer as there is on this planet.  And when Bob Murphy asks you a long-winded question that kind of isn't a question, play along… he is a good guy and a Stanford institution!

Now, as I'm writing this, your exact identity has not been determined.  But that doesn't mean that I don't have a personal message for you:

If your name is Mike Leach, welcome!  I hope you can get the guys you need to run the offensive system you're famous for.  And, as far as teaching you how to use Google last year, you're welcome.

If your name is Norm Chow, welcome!  I hope you can prove that you're not just an X's-and-O's guy, and that you can do all the things a head coaching job at Stanford requires.

If your name is Tom O'Brien, welcome!  Although I will admit that I'm trying to figure out the differences between you and our previous coach.

If your name is Jim Fassel, welcome!  And even though things didn't work out for you in Baltimore this year, a lot of things I said about you two years ago still stand.

If your name is Jim Harbaugh, welcome!  I thought you were one of the more intriguing candidates, although I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't concerned about you being up for a job of this magnitude.

If your name is Pat Shurmur, welcome back!  I don't really know much about you other than that you're a players' coach.  If that's true, great… I just hope you're not as much of a player's coach as our last buddy was.

If your name is Tom Williams, welcome home!  And please bring Kenny Margerum with you.

If your name is Kenny Margerum, welcome home!  And please bring Tom Williams with you.

If your name wasn't above, that means you weren't on any of the media's short lists (or wish lists) for the job.  But the important thing is that when all was said and done, you were at the top of Bob Bowlsby's short list, which is the only short list that mattered!  And right now, that's good enough for me.  Welcome!

Stanford University, as you know, has a world-class reputation in academics, and the athletic department has a good reputation nationwide.  However, most people are questioning whether that institutional commitment to excellence applies to the football program.  Heck, some people, myself included, are wondering if Stanford Football is dead.

You may have heard a lot about the state of the program, whether via the coaches' grapevine, the media, or maybe even your own observations.  No doubt you will hear about the state of the program from Cardinalmaniacs™ worldwide.

You may have even hear about former Stanford offensive lineman Brian Holloway's induction speech at the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame dinner last month.  He talked about his Stanford teammates, guys like Darrin Nelson (whom you will get you know quite well), and his old coach Bill Walsh (whom you will also hopefully get to know quite well if you don't already).  He talked about how all of those guys and everyone who had a hand in the program at that time weren't afraid to dream big, and to do whatever it took to make those big dreams a reality.

Somewhere along the line, according to Holloway, that dream died.  Holloway wanted to know where the body lied.

So it is important to realize that this is not only a rebuilding project, but a resurrection project as well.  Resurrecting the interest in Stanford Football outside of the university community.  Resurrecting the morale of Cardinalmaniacs™ within the university community.  Resurrecting the Cardinal's ability to compete in the Pac-10.  Resurrecting the dream that all of us share: a Stanford team that can win and win big.

Not too long ago, that dream was alive and well.  Not too long ago, this was a program that everyone - players, coaches, support staff, and fans - felt proud to be a part of.  I look forward to watching you make all of those things live and jump again.

Thank you for making the commitment to Stanford Football.

Sincerely,

Troy Clardy


RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS

Well, Stanford lost Big Game, but they didn't get blown out.  In a way it was encouraging.  In another way it was more frustrating…  Where had that effort on both sides of the ball been all year?

It seemed to me that cal felt they could beat Stanford with the most basic, fundamental offensive scheme possible, that they felt they wouldn't even have to really break a sweat against Stanford.  But once they finally woke up and realized that wouldn't work, they finally started spreading the ball around and getting things done…

So U$C loses to UCLA.  The closest they'll get to Glendale, Arizona is Glendale, California, which sits next door to Pasadena.  Maybe all's well that ends well, because I think Florida, Michigan, and even Arkansas were better than the Trojans coming into last weekend's action…

Quote of the Week, courtesy of UCLA wide receiver Marcus Everett:  "We took the city back today."

You think Eric McNeal will ever have to buy his own meal in Westwood ever again?

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… have a day, Derek Anderson!  Nice work leading the Browns to an overtime win over the Chiefs…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… here it is, December 6, and there is still no snow on the ground here in central Connecticut.  Mind you, I'm not complaining, but it's still odd.  For the record though, it was 18 degrees here last night, so real winter isn't far away…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… this column wraps up the fifth season of Clardy's Corners here on TheBootleg.com.  It's been a tough year for all of us Cardinalmaniacs™, but it has still been fun as always.  For the non-Cardinalmaniacs™ out there who followed these Corners, thank you for bringing your passion for your team to the party.  For those of you who responded to these Corners via the Inbox or the message boards, thank you for agreeing, disagreeing, sharing your kind words, or questioning my sanity.  Your opinions and your passion helps make these Corners go.  Of course, three guys make all of this go.  Lars and Jim, thank you as always for your support and your passion for Stanford sports, and for allowing me to keep crashing your tailgates!  Mike, thank you as always for putting up with me every week, and for your non-stop dedication to this product.  Hang in there, everyone; to quote that ‘80s song, things can only get better.  Have a safe and happy holiday season.  Go Cardinal!


CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX

We begin with the Corrections Corner… Chris in Indianapolis and Dallin in Utah both checked in to remind me that John Beck did not play in BYU's loss at Stanford back in 2004.  Beck had injured his shoulder the week before, so Matt Berry actually got the start, and later Jason Beck (no relation) took the snaps for BYU.  My apologies for mixing up my Becks.

David in Menlo Park had this comment on my Us vs. Them column last week:  "I read your column every week and look forward to it.  I think you went a bit over the top this time.  I admit to being a Cal fan, but still, it wouldn't matter if you were a Cal or Stanford fan, some of the comments were a bit odd.  Anyhow, I really love your work.  Maybe next year's Big Game article could be a little better."

Thanks for the kind words and your thoughts. And maybe next year's Big Game could be a little better!


PAC-10 PICKS

Boy, what a collapse… over the last four weeks I went 4-7 straight-up and 2-9 ATS.  Ugh.  Now I know how Washington State Cougar fans feel!

Last week: 0-1 (straight-up), 0-1 (ATS).
This year: 21-15 (straight-up), 17-19 (ATS).
Last year: 22-10 (straight-up), 15-17 (ATS).


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