Mitch Sherman: Stanford is unique

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- More so than perhaps any spot in America, the campus at Stanford fosters an environment in which you never know whom you'll encounter.

Just this week, in fact, David Shaw, the school's first-year football coach, spoke with a doctor he'd met recently. Shaw knew the doctor followed football, so in the days before the unbeaten and third-ranked Cardinal host No. 6 Oregon (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on ABC), they talked football. But only briefly.

The doctor, according Shaw, is working with a group to find progress toward a cure for cancer. The campus offers a constant dose of perspective. It can be a humbling place.

No signs or posters appeared on campus this week to encourage the Stanford football team. The Farm, as they call it, remains abuzz with talk of academic pursuits and social gatherings unrelated to the big game. Andrew Luck, the nation's most high profile college athlete, walks among his peers with little or no fanfare.

There's talk that the crowd Saturday for ESPN's College GameDay may actually set a record low for attendance, what with the early morning start and apathetic nature toward football of the Stanford students.