A familiar face will be leaving The Farm after this season: defensive line coach Randy Hart, a coaching veteran of 46 years will retire, Stanford Athletics reported. Hart's presence will be sorely missed, as more than just a great recruiter and tactician -- it seems that all who know Hart gush about him.
"Randy's career speaks for itself when you look at a national championship, Rose Bowls and all of the players he helped get to the NFL," said Stanford head coach David Shaw. "It has been a privilege for me to watch him push young men to be their best athletically, as well as academically, and prepare them for life.
Disappointed to see @StanfordFball DL coach Randy Hart retire. Amazing teacher, always energetic and positive. Great interview, too.— Todd Husak (@ToddHusak) February 9, 2016
Stanford D-line coach Randy Hart, who coached in, like, 1 million Rose Bowls, announced his retirement today. One of my all-time favorites.— Ted Miller (@TedMillerRK) February 9, 2016
Even though it was only for one season, it's been an honor to have been coached by Coach Hart. Thanks for everything coach.— Dylan Jackson (@Dylan_Jackson79) February 9, 2016
In a press release, Hart expressed gratitude for all the opportunities he had along his journey. "I am honored and blessed to have been at so many great places with so many fantastic coaches, student-athletes and fans," Hart said. "And for that, I'm one of the luckiest coaches ever.
"I have loved each one of my players, and have enjoyed working with every staff member throughout the years. Everyone has to make this decision at some point in time, and this was the right time for me and my family."
Hart coached ten Rose Bowl teams in his tenure as a coach, working for Washington, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, Tampa, and Iowa State before coming to Stanford for the 2010 season. Even more impressive: Hart's teams made bowls 28 times, more than Stanford has in program history.
It's no coincidence that once Hart came to campus, Stanford became a defensive powerhouse. In 2009, the Cardinal were 90th in the nation in total defense, but by the next season, they had jumped to 21st. This season, Hart led an inexperienced, depleted group to rank fourth in the Pac-12 in rushing defense in his final season.
Fittingly, Hart went out in grand fashion in his final Rose Bowl Game. His defensive line thoroughly dominated Iowa's "elite" offensive line in the trenches, holding the Hawkeyes to just 1.3 yards per carry. Hart helped his team rise to the occasion, in fact in such a dominant way that it led many reporters to question whether the playing surface was making Hawkeyes' lineman slip.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz quickly shot down those rumblings: "The surface was excellent. That's part of playing on natural grass. It wasn't the shoes. It's just they're a good football team...They just outplayed us. They outplayed us in every turn, and credit goes to them."
Hart learned a lot as a player from legendary Buckeyes' coach Woody Hayes, who coached Hart and Ohio State to a national championship in 1969. Hayes liked Hart so much that he kept him around as a coach, and the rest is history.
Hart's knowledge surely helped him out with recruiting -- he was the regional recruiter for the East Bay, Northern California, Michigan, Ohio, Washington, and Oregon. Along the way, he picked up Harrison Phillips, Joshua Garnett, and Wayne Lyons, among others.
But don't despair, Stanford fans: coaches around the country will be eager to fill this vacancy. Stanford has the talent and head coach to attract a top-tier coach to replace Hart. David Shaw's system has proven time and time again that it can mold players and prepare them for success, regardless of losses at coaching positions. Unlike that other Bay Area team, Stanford was able to weather the losses of Jim Harbaugh, Vic Fangio, and Co. and remain a football powerhouse.
Whoever ends up filling the role will certainly have their work cut out for them. No one will truly be able to replace Hart --just take his place.