I’ve been delaying this article for as long as I can. It will be my last for Rule of Tree.
I could write about how I believe these new California laws are doing more harm than good. I could write it about Kobe’s sudden, heartbreaking death. Or, I could write it as a thank you to my Rule of Tree readers and fellow Cardinal fans. Instead, I’ll just give my crazy take on Stanford football one last time.
KJ Costello is transferring. Some might interpret the move as a bad sign for the Cardinal program, but I view it as a sign of hope.
Costello is good, and he could start at many Division 1 programs, including Pac-12 North rival Washington, which apparently was his runner-up option. One place he could not have started next season: Stanford.
Davis Mills is better, plain and simple, but David Shaw seems to always choose the more experienced quarterback over the more talented younger one. I wrote about it this possible dilemma after the Washington game.
Think about if Costello had stayed.
I predict a Costello vs Mills competition would bring the best out of both players, but history tells us Shaw would mistakingly choose the older player.
Josh Nunes vs Kevin Hogan? Nunes didn’t last the season.
Ryan Burns vs Keller Chryst? Burns also didn’t last the season.
Keller Chryst vs KJ Costello? Costello didn’t even get a chance until Chryst got hurt.
In every case, Shaw chose the wrong guy because of their experience, and he didn’t realize his mistake until a couple losses revealed his mistake.
There won’t be any growing pains from a quarterback battle next season. Davis Mills will come into training camp knowing he’s the guy. This is his team now. He was recruited with Osiris St. Brown and Connor Wedington—two of his main options next season. He will be protected by the other two five-stars in his recruiting class, Walker Little and Foster Sarell.
Stanford, in my opinion, has lacked an identity in recent years, which has been the biggest issue of many. They haven’t flexed their brutal, physical style of play since the Shayne Skov era. They haven’t been a dynamic, flashy offense since Christian McCaffrey left for the NFL. Now, with an obvious starting quarterback, David Shaw and company have the chance to make a new identity.
What that new identity will be is still a question mark. I believe Stanford could, and should, be one of the most efficient teams on offense in the league. Mills, a (somewhat) mobile and precise quarterback, will keep drives moving and keep drives long with short, accurate throws. Sometimes your best defense is your offense, and next season, long, efficient drives will be the Cardinal’s best friend.
It’s crazy to think that I started writing for Rule of Tree four years ago. I was a sophomore in high school then. Now, I’m in my second year of college. I look back at my original articles and cringe over my grammar and word choices, but I’m proud of everything—some pieces more than others—that I’ve written. When I think of my favorite articles, I think about my thank you letter to Christian McCaffrey or my recent feature about the physical identity of Stanford football. I’ve had so many other ideas for features, but it’s hard to get access to athletes older than you for interviews.
These past four years, Rule of Tree has been my main extracurricular and my favorite hobby. I’ve been in the press box and interviewed some of my Stanford heroes. I’ve become a better writer and more creative person—all thanks to Rule of Tree.
Will this be the end of my writing career? I don’t know, but I do know it doesn’t mean the end of my Stanford fandom. I’ll still go to as many games as I can and still try to not freak out when I see someone like KJ Costello at the airport (which did actually happen).
Thank you Rule of Tree, to my editors Matt Vassar and Jack Blanchat, and to my readers. I’ve shared some crazy takes and ideas, and you listened to all of them.