What happened to Stanford’s football program? | College Football Enquirer

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss the steep decline in Stanford’s football program over the last few years, and debate if the Cardinal could rebound back to relevance in the future.

Video Transcript

[CHEERING]

DAN WETZEL: So speaking of Stanford also out there, you got a theory on this? I mean, Stanford was-- obviously, Harbaugh got them going really good. And then David Shaw comes in and continues it, elevates it. I mean, Harbaugh had one great year, 12 and 1.

David Shaw's first-- this is his first six, seven years. 11 and 2, 12 and 2, 11 and 3. Those are back-to-back Rose Bowls. There was a Fiesta Bowl in there. 8 and 5, then 12 and 2, then 10 and 3, 9 and 5, 9 and 4, 4 and 8, 4 and 2, 3 and 9. They have fallen off a cliff.

PAT FORDE: Yep.

DAN WETZEL: I don't know of a more impressive person that I've met who is a college football coach than David Shaw.

PAT FORDE: Yeah, he's something.

DAN WETZEL: I don't know anybody I wouldn't want coaching my kids than David Shaw.

PAT FORDE: Yep.

DAN WETZEL: Stanford is still Stanford. The competition in the Pac-12 has not gotten tougher. Why has this just fallen apart?

PAT FORDE: Well, a couple of theories there. One, the transfer portal is basically a one-way thing there, OK? So they've lost a lot of guys to the transfer portal. Some of that may be academics, but that's also part of the problem on getting guys in. It's hard to be academically at a point where Stanford will say, yeah, we'll take you.

There's probably not a lot of guys at Arizona State or at Auburn or wherever that are like, yeah, I've got the credits to transfer in and become a whatever major, a management science and engineering major at Stanford. So it's hard. They're losing ground in that respect.

Secondly, they built their program on winning the line of scrimmage, offensively and defensively. And once that goes bad, that can be hard to fix, especially again if you cannot work the portal to go out and get three great linemen on either side. And so their recruiting, I think, now is suffering as a result of having lost that traction. They were not terribly creative ever offensively. And as things have become more open, they look a little bit like a fish out of water.

Doesn't mean you can't win that way, but you have to beat teams at the line of scrimmage, and they're no longer dominant up front there. So kind of a combination, a compilation, I think, of things. But I'm very surprised. Because I'm with you. If David Shaw came into my house to recruit, [WHISTLES] he'd be a tough one to turn down.

DAN WETZEL: So I can go two ways on this. One is this is not a school that is built for what's coming--

PAT FORDE: Right.

DAN WETZEL: --OK? I got a hard time believing that Stanford-- now they have more motive than anybody, but do they have football fans that want to do a collective?

PAT FORDE: No.

DAN WETZEL: Probably not. Now if they did, they could stack that thing with billions.

PAT FORDE: Oh, yeah. If they--

DAN WETZEL: They only really need one alum, one of their many billionaire tech alums, to say, screw it, I'm doing this.

PAT FORDE: Right. Yeah, they got plenty to choose from there, but I don't know whether any of them care. I did--

DAN WETZEL: Right.

PAT FORDE: When we were out at graduation in June, the commencement speaker was the co-founder of Netflix, who's an alum, but--

DAN WETZEL: Right.

PAT FORDE: --he didn't seem to be talking much about sports.

DAN WETZEL: Founders of Yahoo, Google. I mean--

PAT FORDE: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: A million others. So you don't need much. That's the thing. A lot of these other collectives, they're like, well, I'm a manager of a three-store chain of sporting goods.

PAT FORDE: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: I got the biggest gravel pit in the state.

[LAUGHTER]

You know, good money.

PAT FORDE: There's money in a gravel pit. I guarantee it.

DAN WETZEL: There's always money in gravel. I got a trucking and hauling company. Now I'm going to pop some bucks in there. Let's get some recruits. These are the kind of guys at Stanford are like, I'm going to build a rocket ship and go to Mars.

[LAUGHTER]

Oh, sure, I'll give 1% of that, and let's get an offensive line. So they could get the collective going.

PAT FORDE: Theoretically.

DAN WETZEL: This is the true sleeping giant of college football.

PAT FORDE: Yes.

DAN WETZEL: Anytime Stanford wants to do this, get out the way.

PAT FORDE: Yeah.