The Downfall of Stanford Football

Nate Martin, Sports Editor

David Shaw (Aeron Lo)

   I was raised to be respectful and open-minded, and to be a Stanford University football fan. And I do certainly try to keep in mind these values while watching the team I’ve rooted for my entire life completely fall apart. A team that my father and I would illegally stream while living in Sydney, Australia. A team that my family bought season tickets for. A team that has completely lost any sense of identity it once had. 

   I say this coming from a place of love. Stanford football has been a massive part of my life, with players like Andrew Luck, Shayne Skov, and Christian McCaffrey being role models for me. However, these glory days are long gone. It’s now been seven years since Stanford’s last appearance in the Rose Bowl, one of the most prestigious college football games. Now, they have only won one conference game in the last calendar year. This sharp downward spiral in such a short time span has led many to ask the question: what happened to Stanford football?

   For starters, the new era of college athletics is not one that advantages a school like Stanford. The transfer portal is naturally hard for such a selective school. Yet this hasn’t hindered them in recruiting high school players, as the team is still getting some of the top ranked recruits in the country to commit. Instead, what it comes down to is the current culture surrounding the team under head coach David Shaw.

   When Shaw was hired as head coach, he carried over a culture from former coach Jim Harbaugh that emphasized winning the battle of the trenches and emphasizing playmakers on both sides of the ball. This could all be summed up into the phrase “intellectual brutality” that became a hallmark for the program. However, all signs of this are gone and were replaced by a team that assumes it can win while following the same philosophy that worked five years ago. The reality is that they can’t. Shaw’s inability and unwillingness to make adjustments changes to his coaching staff or playbook after multiple losing seasons is outrageous. Yet somehow, he is still one of the highest paid coaches in the country.

   The sad truth is that Shaw’s not going anywhere. Nor should he. I can’t think of a better man to coach Stanford football. However, if he wants to get Stanford back into the national spotlight instead of being the punching bag of the Pac-12, then there has to be serious changes to the culture of Stanford football.