It might seem very Jim Harbaugh-y that new Stanford coach David Shaw is so eager to get to work that he's schedule his first spring practice for Monday, when the calendar says we're still in winter. But Shaw is fully aware that he's not Jim Harbaugh. He's not going to adopt a Harbaughian pose. It's not likely he will talk about "enthusiasm unknown to mankind" or not bowing down to any program or comparing his quarterback (Andrew Luck) to his wife because both are "perfect."
Harbaugh was often a colorful quote but a prickly interview. He was unpredictable and edgy, incredibly competitive and just a little nutty.
Shaw is polished and measured. As Stanford's head coach, he's going to be David Shaw, and plenty of folks on the Farm think that's going to be a good thing -- see recent good news on ticket sales.
"I just have a different personality," he said. "I'm a different person."
That doesn't mean, however, he's any less competitive. During a short phone conversation Friday, he talked about being "single-minded" and "focused" and getting better each practice. The first task for Stanford this spring is moving past a scintillating 12-1 campaign in 2010. If the Cardinal start believing they've arrived, they surely won't.
As to the business at hand, Shaw announced a couple of staff additions. Mike Bloomgren, a New York Jets offensive assistant, is the Cardinal's new offensive line coach and running game coordinator, and Mike Sanford, a former Stanford assistant who was Western Kentucky's quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator last year, has been hired as running backs coach.
Shaw said the last void on his staff is at tight ends coach. "I'm not going to rush," he said. "I'm not just hiring guys for spring ball."
Previously, Shaw announced that Pep Hamilton had been promoted to offensive coordinator and will work with quarterbacks and receivers and that Derek Mason and Jason Tarver, a former San Francisco 49ers assistant, would serve as co-defensive coordinators. Mason will oversee the secondary and call plays, while Tarver will coach linebackers.
Spring practices will be split into two minicamps. The first session runs Feb. 21 to March 5. The second starts March 28 and ends with the spring game on April 9.
When asked about his primary concerns, Shaw quickly named the offensive line, which must replace three starters, including All-America center Chase Beeler and guard Andrew Phillips.
Other issues: Who's Luck's backup? Who replaces Nate Whitaker at kicker? What about two voids at linebacker and on the defensive line? And who steps in for Richard Sherman at cornerback?
Shaw isn't eager to provide lists of possible answers. He obviously wants to create as much competition as possible. The good news is the Cardinal, who are almost certain to be ranked in the preseason top 10, appear to have plenty of up-and-coming players who are ready to step in.
As for Luck, Shaw isn't worried that a guy touted as the surefire No. 1 pick in the NFL draft this spring had he not decided to return will try to shoulder too much of a burden.
"I love his leadership style because it's a performance-based leadership," Shaw said. "He wants to be one of the hardest workers on the team. He wants to lead by example. He doesn't want to give a whole bunch of speeches."
In other words, Shaw expects Luck to be Luck. Just like Shaw plans to put his mark on the program instead of trying to be the second-coming of Harbaugh.