Oakland Raiders: Five Potential Future Head Coaches
September 13, 2014; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal head coach David Shaw instructs against the Army Black Knights during the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. Stanford defeated Army 35-0. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
4. David Shaw
If the 49ers decide to retain Jim Harbaugh – or if Harbaugh goes off to another job somewhere more promising – the Raiders simply have to look at another Stanford coach: David Shaw. David Shaw may be the best “dark horse” coaching prospect among the college ranks, and a good candidate if Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie can’t interest a more seasoned, experienced head coach.
Shaw, at only 42 years old, has a long coaching resume already, having begun his coaching career in 1995, a year after finishing his final year as a wide receiver at Stanford. Shaw spent four years with the Raiders on Jon Gruden’s staff, including as the Raiders QB coach in 2001, working with Rich Gannon, and then spent four years with the Ravens, coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers on Brian Billick’s staff. He left Baltimore to go coordinate Jim Harbaugh’s passing game at San Diego, and followed Harbaugh to Stanford, where he served as Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator for four years before succeeding him as head coach.
As the head football coach of Stanford, Shaw was lucky enough to inherit a high quality group of players that included quarterback Andrew Luck. Shaw led the 2011 Stanford team to an 11-2 record, including a loss in the Fiesta Bowl. A year later, without Andrew Luck, Shaw’s Stanford team finished 12-2 with a Rose Bowl victory. Last year, Stanford went 11-3, including a Rose Bowl loss to Michigan State. So far this year, the Cardinal are 3-1 with the only blemish on their record a 13-10 loss to USC. They have shut out two opponents, and have not allowed more than 13 points in a single game all season.
Shaw is certainly not the most exciting young college coach out there, with that distinction going to Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M. But while Sumlin may have his choice of NFL jobs – and also may decide to stay at Texas A&M with a legitimate opportunity to contend for national titles – Shaw is not as big of a name and may not attract as much attention from NFL teams. He would probably be a relatively easy get for the struggling Raiders, and his offensive play-calling and quarterback coaching background make him a perfect fit for a team looking to develop a young quarterback. His experience running a physical, pro-style offense and a defensive-minded team like Stanford make him a very well-rounded and NFL-ready coach, and his background working with Jon Gruden, Brian Billick and Jim Harbaugh gives him a quality pedigree that very few young coaches around the country can match. Kevin Sumlin, on the other hand, has never coached at the NFL level, runs a spread option, and the biggest-name coach he worked with is Bob Stoops.
Shaw may not want to leave Stanford, of course, but there’s no way of knowing if he could be enticed to leave. As a PAC-12 coach with an NFL pedigree, its unlikely he would get a better offer in the college ranks: SEC, Big 12 and B1G schools aren’t known for hiring away PAC-12 coaches, no matter how successful, and the only jobs better than Stanford in the PAC-12 are already filled and look pretty set for years to come. With USC emerging from their NCAA sanctions, Stanford may find it increasingly difficult to compete for recruits in California against them, UCLA and Oregon, and it may be the right time for Shaw to get out while he still can. The Raiders opening may be the best move he can make, and he may be the best option the Raiders have come early January.