Stanford football is going through its “Golden Years.” Stanford hasn’t missed a postseason berth in a decade. David Shaw has more wins than any coach in school history. You would think that is as rosy as it gets, but it’s not. Stanford has put itself in a place where there is no turning back. The goal is to win championships. Not just conference titles, but a national championship. You might point out that Stanford hasn’t won a national championship since the 40s, but nonetheless this is the expectation that Stanford is continuously building toward.
Now I am as Stanford as it gets, but I am also reasonable. Stanford lost to some great teams this decade: to Oregon in 2010 and 2011, Notre Dame in 2012 and 2018, and Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. But the rest of this decade’s losses weren’t to better teams, and some are flat-out embarrassing for a team that wants to be in the conversation with Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State. Saturday was one of those losses.
So, who is going to show up to reclaim the greatness of Stanford football?
Enter the face of the program, Coach David Shaw. There isn’t a better person to run the program, but let’s take an impartial look at his weaknesses. Shaw will get to 80 wins this year, but over his last 17, he’s 12-5. And since the beginning of last year, he’s 13-7. He’s falling for his upperclassmen, and that has cost him. When he lets the younger guys play, they are tied to a leash like a kid at Disneyland. And there are times where you have to be blunt and just scream WHY IN THE UTE IS GABE REID NOT PLAYING MORE?! Utah had 10 in the box on play 1, and Stanford was still running the ball. Alabama is a smashmouth team, but they know how to adapt.
Enter KJ Costello. I was the Tyra Banks for your fan club screaming for the change last year. I knew you had the moxy to make Stanford better. You do, but when you threw that pick-six and then didn’t even attempt to tackle the guy, that was hard to watch. Mistakes happen, though, and I trust you will get the band back on track.
Enter the offensive linemen. This will be short and sweet. Nate Herbig is extraordinary, but even the Big Island can’t play all five positions. The offensive line needs to coalesce.
Enter the defense. Paulson Adebo, keep balling out. And let me reiterate that when Gabe Reid plays, the defense turns up. The rest of the defense has its moments, but the secondary at times is playing 7-10 yards off receivers, and giving up some very big plays.
Enter Special Teams. You’re the teacher’s pet. Keep it up.
So, who will enter to reclaim Stanford greatness? At this point, there are far more questions than answers.
But 2018 can still be special. Yes, Stanford is already eliminated from the ultimate goal of a national championship, but a conference championship is still within reach. You will be the better team in many of your games. Win those. Then get to Washington with the North hanging in the balance and find a way to win this conference and get back to Pasadena. Prove to me that you still have it in you.