By Antonio Gonzalez
The Associated Press
STANFORD, Calif. — David Shaw has a message for anybody who believes he’s going to leave Stanford for the NFL after this season: no chance.
The Cardinal coach said Monday night that the growing mention of his name for NFL jobs is “very flattering.”
He said he was bothered by the speculation last year but now “it’s just a testament to being a really good college football program.”
“No matter what I say, the rumors aren’t going to stop,” Shaw said. “It doesn’t bother me. Every good football program in the last 15 years, after two good years, the head coach is going to be rumored to go someplace else. I take it as a compliment.”
Shaw was promoted from offensive coordinator after Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers in January 2011. While Harbaugh built the foundation for the program’s renaissance, Shaw has taken his alma mater to even greater heights.
Shaw has led Stanford to a 34-6 record in three seasons, going to three straight BCS bowls and winning the past two Pac-12 titles. The fifth-ranked Cardinal (11-2) will go for their second straight Rose Bowl victory against No. 4 Michigan State (12-1) on Jan. 1.
The day Shaw became Stanford’s head coach, he said he never wanted to interview for another football job again. Asked if he still felt that way, Shaw said: “Absolutely.”
“I think when he says to the media that he’s found his dream job, he’s one of the coaches that I truly believe what he’s saying,” senior safety Ed Reynolds said. “It’s his alma mater. His dad (Willie Shaw) coached here (as an assistant). He’s been around this environment for so long. He knows what he’s getting and I think he’s definitely in a spot where he feels comfortable for him and his family.”
Shaw agreed to what the school termed a “long-term contract extension” after last season. Shaw has declined to discuss details of his contract but has said repeatedly that he wants his three young children to grow up around Stanford.
Despite Shaw’s insistence on staying, his background and success running pro-style systems makes him a natural candidate for NFL teams.
Shaw had been an assistant in the NFL for Philadelphia, Oakland and Baltimore before joining Harbaugh as an assistant at the University of San Diego, then following him to Stanford before the 2007 season.
Harbaugh’s success at the next level — taking the 49ers to the NFC championship game and the Super Bowl in his first two seasons — has only generated more conversations about Shaw’s potential in the NFL.
Shaw won Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors his first two seasons. Arizona State’s Todd Graham won the award this year, though Shaw’s Cardinal routed the Sun Devils twice, including in the Pac-12 championship game.
Stanford lost the Fiesta Bowl in an overtime thriller to Oklahoma State in Shaw’s first season — and Andrew Luck’s last. Shaw still led Stanford to its first Rose Bowl win in 41 years when the Cardinal beat Wisconsin without the school’s record-setting quarterback last season.
All of 41 years old, Shaw has showed the ability to bond with players in ways even Harbaugh couldn’t, understanding as he does the intricacies of a rigorous academics university that practically raised him: as a coach’s son, student, player, assistant coach, husband and father — he even proposed to his wife, Kori, outside of Stanford’s Memorial Church.
When he started coaching, Shaw said he set his sights on the NFL. After spending time as an assistant in the pros, he said he’s happy at Stanford now.
“That’s also just kind of how I am. If I’m going to start doing something, I’m going to see if I can be as good as I can be and go as high as I can go,” Shaw said.
“So I thought about being a head coach. I didn’t necessarily set a plan for it. I know growing up in this business you can’t ever plan to be a head coach. You either have the opportunity or you don’t. The opportunity thankfully came my way here (at Stanford) and it’s been great here ever since.”
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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