Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw announced after Saturday’s 35-26 loss to BYU that he will step down after 12 seasons at the helm of Stanford’s football program.
“After many prayers and multiple discussions with my wife, one phrase keeps coming to me — it’s time,” Shaw said. “There are not sufficient words to describe the love and gratitude I feel for my family, all of my former and current players, my staff, this administration and the entire Stanford family. Thank you all.”
The winningest head coach in program history, Shaw led the Cardinal to heights previously unimaginable. The four-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year secured three conference titles for the university, along with four New Year’s Six bowl appearances. Those seasons included Rose Bowls victories in 2012 and 2015, with the Cardinal finishing the 2015 season at No. 3 in the AP poll, the third of six top-20 finishes under Shaw.
A Stanford man himself, Shaw was a wide receiver for the Cardinal from 1991 to 1994, then worked his way through the college and NFL coaching ranks before landing back at Stanford to serve as the offensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh. After four years in this role, Shaw was promoted to head coach after Harbaugh was named the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
As head coach, Shaw continued the impressive streaks he helped spark while he was offensive coordinator. While Shaw was on the staff, Stanford reached 10 straight bowl games, played 10 straight seasons with at least eight wins and established a series-long nine-game winning streak over Cal.
However, the pinnacle of Stanford football came crashing down fast. Few expected finishing in the top 12 of the AP Poll in six of seven years to be sustainable, and the Cardinal appeared to have leveled off from their peak into nine-win seasons in 2017 and 2018. But Stanford could not sustain that success, as the Cardinal went 14-28 from 2019 to 2022. During that period, Stanford held an 11-game losing streak to FBS teams and lost the Big Game in three of four seasons.
Shaw coached countless phenomenal athletes during his time on The Farm. His squads featured three Heisman Trophy runner-ups, in Andrew Luck ‘12, Christian McCaffrey ‘17 and Bryce Love ‘19. Multiple Cardinal were drafted each year under Shaw until this past year, with the program producing six first-round selections in that period.
Beyond his leadership on the field, Shaw is one of the most respected members of his profession off the field. He is on the Board of Trustees for the American Football Coaches Association and is the Chair of the NCAA Football rules committee.
“I would like to thank David for his immense contributions to Stanford,” Jaquish and Kenninger Director of Athletics Bernard Muir said. “David has represented Stanford football, as both a player and a coach, with unwavering grace, humility and integrity. He has cared tremendously for each and every student-athlete in his program while helping them pursue their full academic and athletic potential. David will forever remain a valued member of the Stanford football family and an integral part of the storied history of the program.”