Stanford's Shaw followed father into coaching

January 16, 2011, 5:49 am
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Jan. 15, 2011STANFORD PAGE

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Willie Shawremembers when he first took his teenage son to Lions training camp.David Shaw, in junior high at the time and an aspiring receiver, stayedin the dormitory with his father, shagged balls for the wideouts andeven sat in on their position meetings.He spent about three weeks workingbehind the scenes for Detroit that summer of 1985. It was then whenWillie Shaw - a longtime NFL and college assistant - realized his sonmight one day have the coaching bug, too.Two and a half decades later, DavidShaw is Stanford's new coach, promoted from offensive coordinator toreplace Jim Harbaugh and keep this program rolling on the heels of a12-1 season and Orange Bowl victory."The receivers started coming to meand saying: 'Coach, your son, he knows what we're doing. He watcheswhat we're doing in meetings, how we're putting in plays and he asksquestions about it,'" said Willie Shaw, always a defensive coachhimself. "After that, he would come to training camp every year and Iknew he was probably going to go into coaching because he was around itso much. I've got pictures of him when he was 3 years old and I wascoaching at Stanford and he was on the practice field."Still, when David Shaw broke the newsto his mother, Gay, that he did indeed want to coach, she could barelytake the news. Her son was following in his father's footsteps in apressure-packed profession."'Haven't you seen what has happenedin our lives?'" David Shaw said, repeating his mother's words andreaction. "'Don't you understand what this profession does to peopleand their families?'"Shaw's dad became emotional Thursdayfor other reasons - namely the pride he felt seeing his son step intothe top job at Stanford at age 38. This family has come full circle onThe Farm, where Willie Shaw was a finalist for the head coaching job in1992 - with his son then on the team - when the late Hall of Fame coachBill Walsh decided at the last minute to return for a second stintcoaching the Cardinal.Willie Shaw instead went to the Vikings as the defensive backs coach under Dennis Green."I coached here twice. This place isstill in my heart. It's my favorite place I've ever coached," WillieShaw said of Stanford. "It's so rewarding to see this happen 18 yearslater. Now I'm thinking, I didn't get it before, maybe that was why.This is even more rewarding than if I had gotten it back then. I'mreally so proud."David Shaw wound up a receiver atStanford, where he received his sociology degree and initially hadplans of working in the financial world. He played for the Cardinalfrom 1991-94 under Green and Walsh.When Shaw learned of a coaching job at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., he took the leap.And he realized it was the right move "the first day of practice."Clearly, this is in his blood."My father had a huge influence onme getting into coaching. My last two years (as a player) I wasreferred to as coach Shaw by the younger receivers because I was alwaysthe guy who was hard on them with their splits and their depth andtheir routes," David Shaw said."I had this itch. Once we start wecan't do anything else. We dive into it. We sleep in our offices andwork insane hours. Our passion for the game and for the guys we coach,it comes to a point where you can't hide it."Shaw takes over after Harbaughdeparted last Friday to become coach of the San Francisco 49ers. A bigbonus for Shaw: Orange Bowl MVP quarterback and Heisman Trophyrunner-up Andrew Luck is returning for another season rather thandeclaring for the NFL draft."It's nice not having to learn a newplaybook, to be able to hit spring ball running like you were just onthe field in the bowl game," Luck said. "I think that definitely helpsin terms of making a smooth transition."Shaw was an NFL assistant withPhiladelphia, Oakland and Baltimore, before joining Harbaugh as anassistant at the University of San Diego. As passing game coordinatorand receivers coach, he helped lead the Toreros to an 11-1 record andthe top marks in what was then Division I-AA in passing offense, totaloffense and scoring offense.He joined Harbaugh at Stanford thefollowing year and has coached receivers and running backs, while alsoserving as offensive coordinator the past four years."He comes from a tremendous coaching family," Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby said.Shaw once even asked his father as a young boy, "Dad, how do you get to Stanford?"His father, who knew a thing or twoabout hard work as the oldest of seven children, responded byinstructing his son to spend three hours each night at the kitchentable studying. Or, at the very least, just reading if he didn't haveany assigned homework."I said, 'because you're going to have to have that kind of discipline to get to Stanford,'" his father recalled.All that effort, starting way back then, sure has paid off for Shaw.

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