David Shaw is one of the hottest coaches in college football and with good reason. After taking over for Jim Harbaugh in 2011, all Shaw has done is lead Stanford to three straight 11-plus win seasons and two straight Pac-12 titles.
That kind of performance is going to get you noticed by the NFL. With several head jobs about to come open, Shaw should be a hot candidate at least among rumor-mongering types. Peter King for one believes Shaw is most definitely on NFL radar screens.
The Vikings will be one of the teams with their coach-seeking radar on. Leslie Frazier is almost certain not to be retained after the team’s brutal 2013 campaign. The meltdown hasn’t entirely been Frazier’s fault, but Frazier’s performance amid the meltdown hasn’t been particularly encouraging either.
What kind of coach will the Vikings pursue this offseason? Will they go after a big name retread, a hot NFL coordinator or a highly-touted college guy?
The college route may be attractive to the Vikings as they attempt to shake off the malaise of the Frazier era and inject some fresh energy into their organization. If they do decide to pluck a guy from the college ranks, Shaw could be at the top of their candidate list.
In the past college guys were looked at as bad gambles, but that perception may be changing. Yes there have been some high-profile swings-and-misses with college coaches in recent years – Bobby Petrino anyone? – but there have also been a couple resounding success stories.
Jim Harbaugh made the leap a few years ago and is now one of the NFL’s most highly-respected coaches at least from a results standpoint. Chip Kelly took the jump from Oregon to the NFL this year and has the Eagles headed for the playoffs. Pete Carroll, on his second go-around in the league after a run at USC, is headed for a possible Super Bowl appearance with Seattle.
Is David Shaw the next Harbaugh or Kelly? That might be asking a lot. But the resume is certainly there.
Shaw has three years under his belt running a big-time college program. He may not be an innovative offensive mind by reputation like Chip Kelly, but he’s paid his dues as an offensive coach. He ran Stanford’s pro-style offense for four years before being elevated to head coach. Before that he had stints as a position coach with the Eagles, Raiders and Ravens.
So there’s NFL experience in Shaw’s background, which is always a plus. Not that it matters much, but Shaw even has a connection to Minnesota. He is the son of Willie Shaw, who had two stints as Vikings DB coach, first under Dennis Green in the early ’90s and again under Green and Mike Tice from 2001-2002.
Is Shaw the sexiest name out there in the college ranks? No. That would be Baylor’s Art Briles, the second-coming of Chip Kelly as an offensive wizard.
Shaw may not excite the fans’ imaginations the way Briles would. He may not be a fan-friendly name like some big-time coach with an NFL pedigree. Fans don’t drool when they hear the name “David Shaw” the same way they do when they hear “Jon Gruden” or “Bill Cowher” or “Mike Tomlin.”
Well guess what? You’re not getting any of those guys anyway. Some of those guys are just retreads in the first place. And do you really think Rick Spielman wants to bring in a big-money guy who will demand personnel authority?
Spielman will look for a young coach with a lot of energy and a solid offensive mind. Someone he can work with. Someone who can help develop young players. He will hire either a top college guy or a rising coordinator.
Shaw would seem to be an ideal candidate, if he decides to move to the next level. There are some who believe Shaw is entrenched at Stanford however, and has no intention of moving on. But people who make those sort of statements are very often dead wrong.
Whether the guy ends up being Shaw or not, the Vikings must bring fresh blood to the operation. Things have stagnated under Leslie Frazier, who is respected by his players but terrible at evaluating talent and embarrassingly bad with the media.
And don’t talk to me about your Rob Ryans, your Jon Grudans and your Bill Cowhers. Those guys have the name recognition, but so what? This isn’t politics. Name recognition doesn’t matter.
I don’t care if I’ve never heard of the guy they bring in, as long as he’s not some clueless cliche-belching stooge.