So, is there anything happening in Pac-12 football right now — you know, other than Arizona State hiring a new head coach, Utah making an improbable last-minute run to the Pac-12 Championship Game, USC coming within one win of the College Football Playoff, Oregon collapsing in remarkable fashion against Oregon State, Colorado offering Deion Sanders its head coaching position, Washington winning 10 games under Kalen DeBoer, and Oregon State going 9-3 essentially without a functioning quarterback?
Man, what a time.
In addition to all the other big, headline-grabbing news stories in the conference, a huge one broke overnight while you were either sleeping or celebrating USC’s win over Notre Dame: Stanford football coach David Shaw decided to step down.
Let’s go through the many dimensions of this story and what it means:
Shaw wasn’t fired. This was not a forced exit. Shaw was going to choose to step away if he didn’t want to coach Stanford next year. He was not going to be pushed out. He wanted to do something else with his life.
WHY SHAW STEPPED DOWN
The program has regressed dramatically in recent years, in part because of poor recruiting, and the changing dynamics within the sport — especially the transfer portal — have created additional obstacles.
SHAW'S LEGACY AND IMPACT
Along with Chip Kelly, Shaw played a key role in keeping the Pac-12 relevant nationally following the end of USC’s dynasty under Pete Carroll.
He had numerous opportunities to jump to the NFL but instead remains in charge of his alma mater.
STANFORD'S PLAN A
Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir is expected to lead the search for a replacement. His first call should be to Chris Petersen, the former Washington coach whose philosophy meshes well with Stanford’s ethos.
We agree with Wilner that Chris Petersen should be the first call. He might not want the job, of course.
NOT JUST FOR ANYONE
The academics, the pandemic restrictions, the limits on the transfer portal — this is not an easy job, and it’s not a place where anyone can win. It takes a special kind of coach to win at Stanford and deal with the particularities of the job.
IF PETERSEN SAYS NO TO STANFORD
Brent Brennan, who has done an amazing job with few resources at San Jose State, could move jobs within the Bay Area and get a crack at Stanford.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun — who has had to work within the restrictions of service-academy football — might view Stanford as a good opportunity.
He has been at Air Force since 2007, so he might want a change of scenery.
He is “only” 56 despite his 15-year tenure at the Academy, so he certainly has another job left in his career if he wants it.
Whoever takes the Stanford head coaching job should hire Derek Mason as defensive coordinator.
Mason helped David Shaw during Stanford’s glory years. He knows the lay of the land. Just a little free advice to the new head coach once he is hired.
OTHER PAC-12 COACHING NEWS FROM DUCKS WIRE