I, along with nearly 3,000 coaches, had the privilege of hearing David Shaw give his philosophy on four key areas of the Stanford University program (not once can I remember him referring solely to Stanford, always Stanford University) on Tuesday at the AFCA Convention. He did not disappoint.
For those that didn't have the privilege of being there, here are some of the the core values which Shaw runs his program on.
"I'm in charge of that environment. Who comes in it." As became very clear throughout his message, Shaw takes everything he is in charge of very seriously.
On taking your time in hiring... "I don't have a position open right now but if I did that position will be open until I find the right guy."
On hiring the right people and delegating... "If you have to constantly check and re-check, you hired the wrong guy. I want to hire the right guy and let him coach."
On the value of a group interview... "We're going to talk ball and see what you know. I encourage my assistants to ask any question that comes to their mind. You're not going to win a lot of games if your staff can't get along."
On valuing trust over X's and O's... "I don't care if you have a power-run guy and a spread guy, if they can talk ball and get along, you can win."
"We win games because of our locker room," Shaw said. For Stanford, cultivating a winning locker room starts well before his players arrive on campus.
On setting a firm standard early in the recruiting stage... "When you recruit a young man, if you let him know right off the bat what your expectations are, he'll let you know if he's up for it."
On his favorite saying in coaching and parenting... "'Start as you mean to go on'. You can't be buddy-buddy with a guy through the recruiting process and then try to be his mentor later. It's like parenting, you can't do things one way and then change things up when your kids are eight years old. They don't understand."
On Stanford's academic standards... "Our academic standards are a strength for us. Guys that come to Stanford University have to be mentally tough finishers. If a guy can play in a playoff game on a Friday night, take the SAT on a Saturday morning with three other schools pressuring him to commit, it tells us a lot about who are they and how they handle tough situations. Kids that can do that, I don't worry about them in the fourth quarter."
On creating a competitive atmosphere... "Everything we do is competitive but we don't allow it to be combative. The arena's going to change, the competitive drive never does."
There is no issue, big or small, on game day that Shaw doesn't preside over.
On uniform uniformity... "I want to play as a team and look like a team with hints of individuality. I don't mind eye black and stuff like that. But if you're going to wear sleeves, you're going to wear two of them. I checked, and they come in two's."
On promoting group celebrations... "I worked in the NFL for nine years, which is why I'm not in a rush to get back. In the NFL, guys talk about how you get three-to-five seconds of camera time after you make a play. That's why you see guys run off by themselves after they score a touchdown or make a sack. We always ask 'How many guys can we get in the frame?'"
On his sideline demeanor... "Since I was 12-years old my sister has called me an old man. I encourage our players to live in the moment, and my job is to think of what's next."
On the one thing he will not tolerate... "You give anything less than your best, I'm going to lose my mind. It's disrespectful to what we're trying to accomplish and disrespectful to the game of football."
"I'm not just an old-school football coach, I'm an old-school human being," Shaw said. But even an old-school human being has to have a plan when dealing with the hear-and-now of social media.
On the power Twitter... "Twitter is the scariest thing around. It's dangerous if the people that use it don't respect the power it has."
On the best use of Twitter... "Twitter is to be used as a running commercial to how great your life is."
On avoiding mistakes in social media... "My old boss Bob Bowlsby told me the best thing to do when you're angry is to write a letter, address it, stamp it, seal it and put it in your desk. Go home and sleep on it, and if you still feel like sending it, then you can send it. I tell (my players) all the time, pause before you hit send."