The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Stanford’s David Shaw says ‘It’s time,’ steps down as head coach

Stanford's David Shaw resigned after the team's 3-9 finish with a loss Saturday night to BYU. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/AP)
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David Shaw resigned Saturday, effective immediately, after 12 seasons as Stanford’s coach following the team’s 35-26 loss to BYU in its season finale.

“I prayed about it, I thought about it,” Shaw said. “With every hour it seemed, it was more cemented in my head. The phrase that kept coming to me is: ‘It’s time.’ ”

Shaw, 50, said he began to consider stepping down at his alma mater only last week and added he is not interested in coaching any team at this point.

“I’m not burnt out by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “I’m healthy and feel good. But at the same time, 16 years is a long time — 12 as a head coach, 16 here. I’m so proud of our accomplishments, so proud of our student-athletes, so proud of the guys that have gone on and done other things in the NFL and outside of the NFL in different walks of life. But like I said, the phrase just kept coming back to me that gave me peace, which was ‘It’s time.’ ”

Playoff picture getting clearer (college football winners and losers)

Shaw is the winningest coach in Stanford history with 96 victories against 54 losses. He led Stanford to five double-digit winning seasons, with three Pac-12 titles and three Rose Bowl appearances — with two wins in that game — in his first six years as head coach.

But his teams have finished 3-9 in each of the past two seasons. Since 2019, the Cardinal has gone 14-28.

“A week ago, 10 days ago, I was gung-ho to be the person to lead us there, and over the last few days I realized it was time,” Shaw said after a late arrival to his postgame news conference. “It was time for me to step aside, time for the next group to come in, and hopefully whoever they hire next wins more games than I do. That would be awesome.”

The Cardinal is 3-15 in the Pac-12 in the past two seasons and has posted consecutive losses to rival California.

“There are a lot of people that think this program is down. That’s what our record says,” Shaw said, “but I look at the components. I look at the people here, the support that I’m hearing coming from our athletic director, from our university president, the people that are behind the scenes. We’re not that far away.”

A wide receiver for Stanford in the early 1990s, Shaw was Jim Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2010 and replaced Harbaugh as head coach in 2011. Shaw was an NFL assistant for nine seasons before joining Harbaugh, first at the University of San Diego and then at Stanford. Together, they turned the program around and Shaw continued that success when he succeeded Harbaugh, instituting a physical style nicknamed “Intellectual Brutality.”

Athletic Director Bernard Muir thanked Shaw in a statement, saying he “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. I hope Cardinal fans everywhere will join me in thanking David and his family for their extraordinary years of service and wishing them all the best in their next chapter.”