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Pac 12 Tour - Stanford

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Stanford is a special place. Visit campus and you'll see and feel what I mean. 

After having lunch at the 49ers facility, Mike and I arrived at Stanford's campus about 30 minutes before our projected time so we drove around campus a bit. I'm having a hard time finding the words to explain how nice Stanford University is. The campus is huge and it's immaculate. With total undergraduate enrollment of less than 7,000 students, Stanford must have the best ratio of faculty to students anywhere. 

Quick side note, Mike (@OT_Software) is a bit of a software geek. As we drove around campus, multiple times he sensed the brilliance of a student walking nearby and seriously considered offering them a job on the spot. Yes, he was in software coder heaven...and he was happy. 

At 2pm on the nose Stanford assistant athletic director for football operations Matt Doyle met us and brought us in to see the place. First stop was the coaches offices. Head coach David Shaw and several of the assistants (along with a couple of the players) were watching the last few minutes of one of the basketball games that day. All of the coaches were extremely welcoming and hospitable. Shaw was a great choice to replace Jim Harbaugh as head coach and he has made a number of equally impressive personnel decisions...and the results continue to show up on the field. We'll write more on this topic in the coming weeks, but there is no doubt in our mind that coach Shaw and his staff will keep Stanford football at the highest level for a long time to come. 

First stop on the tour was down to the weight room where I had the opportunity to present head strength coach Shannon Turley with his award (2011 FootballScoop Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Year). 

Doyle then brought us over to see the stadium. In the tunnel, Stanford has some very cool graphics. 

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The stadium itself is as picturesque as you would expect. Inside the appearance is crisp, clean and has a very classic feel to it. New grass will go in this Summer. 

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The training table and dining options at Stanford are excellent and blend well with rest of the student population. Next we had the opportunity to visit the training / medical facilities. These are truly world class and both in terms of injury prevention and in rehabilitation the treatment at Stanford is top notch. 

We continued the tour of campus and were consistently impressed with the people we met, the facilities we saw, student life in general at Stanford and everything we learned about the Univeristy. Anyone who has the opportunity to go to Stanford needs to take that visit. When visiting the world famous Stanford business school we noticed a familiar name from our trip...Phil Knight (who earned an MBA from Stanford) has an entire program, and several buildings, named after him. 

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We headed back to the football offices as running backs coach / recruiting coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. had asked Mike to demo their software apps for him. As they were sitting down I noticed tight ends coach Ron Crook teaching his son a sweet post route down on the basketball court within their offices. The kid has a future in the game! 

I sat in on a few minutes of the idea session raging between Sanford and Mike with OT. Some of the things that Sanford and their staff are doing in terms of recruiting are incredibly smart...things I haven't heard of other programs doing. These guys are smart. This is Stanford. We'll write more about this subject over the next few weeks as well. 

With Stanford being located in tech-mecca Palo Alto (yes, Mike had us drive by the headquarters of Facebook, Google, Apple, etc...he said something about he and I becoming smarter simply though osmosis) real estate is extremely expensive. About a year ago, the University built a number of homes on campus for their coaches to live in (coaches of all sports). 7 current assistants live in these homes which are very nice new construction. I believe the head coach and two coordinators livd in off campus homes the university purchased as well. All of this was made economically feasible through a donation from one man, John Arrillaga who has generously supported Stanford athletics and the University for many years and for several projects. 

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We were invited to join a couple of the coaches at their homes and saw a vibrant mini-community filled with coaches and their families. No doubt this type of idea comes with a significant price tag, but every coach we spoke with raved about the homes and how much they enjoy living so close to so many of their peers. We think this is a great idea. 

We went out to dinner Friday night with Doyle and several of the coaches and couldn't have had a better night. Huge thanks to Mike Bloomgren and Mike Sanford and their wives and children for opening their homes to us and to Matt Doyle for taking time away from his previously scheduled speaking engagement to host us. 

Thousands of high school students and their parents dream of getting accepted to Stanford University. After meeting Coach Shaw and his staff and experiencing 24 hours at Stanford, it's hard to imagine that there aren't also thousands of coaches out there that dream to one day have the opportunity to join the staff here as well. Amazing place. 

We'll write more about our visit to Stanford and some of the unique things they are doing over the coming weeks. We've got visits with UCLA and USC on Monday. Stay tuned for for more reports on our Pac 12 Tour on the site and on twitter @FootballScoop.