Stanford Head Coach David Shaw Retires After Calling “Play of His Career”

Stanford Head Coach Retires

Stanford head coach David Shaw abruptly retired in the second quarter of last Saturday’s game against Colorado. News of Shaw’s retirement has spread throughout Nerd Nation, leaving players, coaches, students, and fans stunned and confused. As a Stanford alumnus and former football player, Shaw has strong ties to the Cardinal community. He has had tremendous success in his four years as head coach; including three consecutive BCS bowl appearances. On more than one occasion, Shaw has called being the Stanford head coach his “dream job” and at only 43 years old, many assumed that he would coach at Stanford for at least another decade or two.

Shaw announced his retirement immediately following a fourth and one play from the 6-yard line with 1:55 to go in the second quarter. After Christian McCaffrey was stopped short on third down, Shaw called a timeout. Most fans expected him to bring out the field goal unit and pick up the easy points; the game was 14-7 at this time. Other fans pleaded for him to make the “Wright” decision and give the ball to short yardage specialist, Remound Wright, as he had already done on four occasions in this game. Some fans even expected Shaw to punt from the 6-yard line. But what happened next was even more shocking.

Out of the time out, Stanford lined up in run formation; Hogan faked the handoff to Wright and the defense bit hard. As the pile collapsed, Hogan stepped back and lofted an effortless pass to sophomore tight end Dalton Schultz, who was standing unmanned in the endzone. The stadium went silent, as Shaw whispered his resignation in the ear of offensive coordinator, Mike Bloomgren, and then was gone.

In a press release, Shaw thanked Stanford for the “tremendous privileges that being the Cardinal head coach has afforded [him]: the beautiful weather, the ability to work with football players who can read, and more than anything, the play call” that led to his retirement. Shaw called the play the “pinnacle” of his coaching career and said that he has decided to retire and “go out on top” instead of “regressing to mediocre football like what Brett Favre did when he was with the Vikings.” He plans to spend his spare time golfing, going to museums, and watching replays of the fourth and one play on a loop. When asked if this decision was right for him and his family, Shaw responded, “No question.”

Shaw’s abrupt retirement left running back/returner and Heisman hopeful Christian McCaffrey to coach the remainder of the game. However, since McCaffrey sees so much playing time, he was forced to appoint the Stanford Tree as interim head coach while he was on the field for offensive and special teams plays. The Tree had to Skype in from Stanford’s campus since the Tree and the rest of the band have been banned from road games this year. The question remains: who called the McCaffrey pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter up 35-10 on a 4-5 Colorado team: was it McCaffrey himself or the often barely coherent student who plays the Stanford Tree? Both remain mum on the issue.

Meanwhile, the search for Stanford’s next coach is in full swing. TMZ reported a picture of Lane Kiffin at San Francisco International Airport and implied that an interview in Palo Alto was imminent. In response to the rumor, Stanford Athletic Director, Bernard Muir released the following statement: “We are not considering Lane Kiffin for our head coach position. In fact, Stanford would not employ Lane Kiffin to empty all the recycling bins on campus. In our search for a coach, Kiffin ranks right below the Stanford Tree. And the Tree is only ranked so low because she can’t travel with the team for road games.”

 Obviously (well, at least I hope it’s obvious), this is an entirely satirical piece. Shaw has taken some heat for his vanilla, run-of-the-mill red zone play calls; but on this occasion, he zigged when everyone thought he’d zag. Man, what a call.

Main Photo