Second-year head coach David Shaw has repeatedly said he views Stanford as his destination job. After he signed what was termed a "long-term contract extension" Wednesday, perhaps more folks will believe him.
Of course, Stanford didn't provide any details about just what "long-term" means, or about how much Shaw is being paid, because it is a private school that likes keeping secrets. If it were a 10-year deal worth, say, $30 million we could conclude both parties -- Shaw and institution -- are fully invested in each other.
But even without the details, this feels like a reasonably solid gesture of mutual affection.
Shaw played for Stanford. He loves the place. He's also a family guy who's living in a great place to raise one (if you can afford it). He's got a good thing going, both on the field and with recruiting.
On the field? Stanford finished 11-2, won the Pac-12 title and is preparing for its first Rose Bowl in 13 years. It's won 11 games for the third consecutive season, which it has never done before. Stanford is one of just four teams from AQ conferences to win 34 or more games over the last three seasons, joining Oregon (35), LSU (34) and Alabama (34) in an exclusive club, though Stanford's SAT averages are a bit higher than that troika.
The Cardinal’s .872 winning percentage since 2010 is tied for third-best among FBS teams during that stretch.
Not too shabby, which is why Shaw, the two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, is a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award.
When Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers after the 2010 season, some wondered if Shaw could maintain the Cardinal's unexpected rise in the Pac-12. Whereas Harbaugh was edgy and eccentric, Shaw was polished and articulate. And, perhaps, some might have fretted, a bit too mellow.
Yep, Shaw is a smooth dude. But he's 4-2 against USC, Notre Dame and Oregon and playing in another BCS bowl game with a team that appears to have a bright future.
Again, not too shabby.
We will humbly offer up a suggestion to both Shaw and Stanford, though we suspect Shaw is well ahead of us here: Take care of the Cardinal's nine assistant coaches. These guys deserve raises, too.
We've repeatedly lauded defensive coordinator Derek Mason and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Both are strong head coaching candidates. But the entire staff, from veterans such as defensive line coach Randy Hart to youngsters like running backs coach Mike Sanford, have participated in creating an outstanding team culture.
And by "team culture," what we really mean is a team that is on the cusp of a third consecutive final top-10 ranking.