Packers Head Coach Candidate: David Shaw

A typical cliche you’ll find accompanying descriptions of great coaches is that they’re ‘like the CEO of a football team.’

Stanford head coach David Shaw is a good embodiment of that idea, as he described his typical day in a conversation with Chat Sports in 2016.

"I don't spend much of my time coaching. I'm now a big-time manager,” Shaw said in the interview. “There are a lot of times when I'll have no time at all to talk football. I'll actually have to go talk to the media, go talk to my boss, go talk to alumni. Spend time doing things off the football field."

The details on David Shaw

Most recent job: Head Coach at Stanford (2011-present)
Record as a head coach: 81-26
First job: Outside Linebackers Coach at Western Washington (1995)
Packers connection: In 1997, Shaw was a quality control coach for the Philadelphia Eagles under future Packers head coach Ray Rhodes. From 1998-2001, Shaw worked under Jon Gruden in Oakland.

The background on David Shaw

Design a football coach in a laboratory, and compare your result to Stanford head coach David Shaw. It’s likely there’s not much of a difference.

He played football and basketball at Stanford, graduating with a sociology degree. He then went into coaching, where he learned under Ray Rhodes, Jim Harbaugh, and Jon Gruden. Oh, and his father coached for major college programs and NFL teams for more than four decades.

The son of college and NFL coach Willie Shaw, David played wide receiver for Stanford in the early 1990s under Bill Walsh and Dennis Green. He pursued a career in coaching after graduation, spending close to ten years as an assistant in the NFL for the Eagles, Raiders and Ravens.

In 2006, Shaw joined the San Diego State coaching staff as the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach under head coach Jim Harbaugh. When Harbaugh left for Stanford the following year, Shaw followed him and became the team’s offensive coordinator.

Harbaugh’s eventual move to the 49ers elevated Shaw to head coach, where he’s been since 2011.

David Shaw’s biggest moment

The 2013 Rose Bowl Game is a sour memory for Packers fans who follow the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturdays, but it’s Shaw’s finest moment at Stanford. The entire lead-up to the bowl was dominated by the Badgers – their head coach Bret Bielema had accepted the head coaching position at Arkansas, leaving Wisconsin without a coach for the game.

Enter athletic director, legendary Badgers football coach, almost-Packers head coach (a story for another day) and Hall of Famer Barry Alvarez. Alvarez vowed to coach the Badgers for the bowl game. He was facing a familiar opponent – his Badgers team had beaten the Cardinal in the 2000 Rose Bowl Game.

Stanford bottled up Badgers running back and Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball and won 20-14. The victory was Shaw’s first bowl win as head coach, and made him the first African-American to win a Rose Bowl or BCS game.

In David Shaw’s own words

As the head coach of the biggest college football program near Silicon Valley, it’s not all that surprising that Shaw has given a TED Talk.

In the speech, he answered an interesting question: Is Stanford football changing the world? His answer and commentary on coaching and life is worth watching.

What are the chances David Shaw is the next Packers head coach?

Jon’s Rating: 0/5

People are wont to draw subliminal connections between David Shaw and Jim Harbaugh, his predecessor at Stanford. But Shaw is no Harbaugh, at least not when it comes to switching jobs.

After experiencing the early-career job churn common to football coaches, Shaw has posted up at Stanford and shows no interest in leaving. Seriously, just ask him. His name has come up in connection with NFL jobs in 2018 and 2017 and 2016 and 2015, and each time the answer from Shaw has been exactly the same: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Shaw seems perfectly comfortable doing what he’s doing: cashing big checks from Stanford, winning the vast majority of his games, and appearing in a bowl game in a warm-weather state. And really, why shouldn’t he be?

Gary’s Rating: 0/5

The job security afforded to David Shaw at Stanford is a luxury no NFL team can match. Few high-profile college football programs do not lower their academic standards to accept recruits with sub-par grades. To play football at Stanford, you first must be the intellectual equal of the university’s students. That Shaw is able to put together winning records is a testament to his pedigree as a coach, and it’s why he’s often brought up in coaching searches.

Green Bay’s head coaching opening is an attractive job, but the sacrifices a coach like Shaw would make include a significant step down in job security, greater performance scrutiny, and a higher bar for success. Shaw makes a reported $6 million annually – the same as McCarthy did in his final season.

There are never any guarantees in life. If David Shaw coaches in the NFL again, he may not be as successful as he is at Stanford. Given the comfortable situation he has in Palo Alto, it’s unlikely he moves east to Wisconsin.