PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The Stanford players were honored by his honor. Former Stanford tight end and Rhodes Scholar, Cory Booker, now the mayor of Newark, N. J., was on hand for homecoming and served as the honorary captain for the Stanford's game Saturday night against Washington. He spoke to the team Friday night, and according to head coach David Shaw, he was captivating.
"I wish we could have played the game after his speech," Shaw said. "He spoke for about 20 minutes and you could have heard a pin drop ... his presence was phenomenal."
Of course, dignitaries and politicians of note are not uncommon at Stanford. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice served as honorary captain for the UCLA game. But being a former player, Booker really connected with the players, Shaw said.
"Mayor Booker basically talked to us about not being ordinary," Shaw explained. "You came to Stanford to be exceptional in everything you do. Don’t take the easy path. Take the hard path. Do what you are capable of doing. See if you can reach your limits. And keep pushing yourself."
Too bad they can't have his honor talk every week. The Cardinal played their strongest game of the season, smashing No. 25 Washington 65-21
In the wake of Stanford's 446 rushing yards -- the best ground performance in school history -- quarterback Andrew Luck naturally spoke highly of his the offensive line and their contributions.
"They want to be able to look back and hang their hat on this (performance)," Luck said. "It will be something special down the road for guys to look back on.
"But hopefully it's broken next week."
It was posed to Shaw Saturday night -- and likely will continue to be posed almost every time a microphone is put in front of his face. Does an undefeated Stanford team deserve a shot at the national title?
"It's not up to us," Shaw said. "It's the biggest pitfall in this profession, and I've lived in this profession my entire life, is to worry about A) Things you shouldn't worry about and B) things that you can't control anyway. The only thing we control is how we work during the week and how we play on Saturdays. If that puts us someplace, great. If not, so be it. We're going to play hard and aggressive and play the best football we can. Hopefully we'll get better."
Return of Howell?
No word from Shaw on whether safety Delano Howell will be back in time for Saturday's game at USC. Howell missed the Washington game with an unspecified hand injury.
"If worst came to worst, he could probably play," Shaw said. "We want to be smart and make sure we have him down the stretch."