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David Shaw: "If you have to choose between school and football, you choose school."


David Shaw appeared on ESPN's Championship Drive podcast on Wednesday and fielded a question from Adam Rittenberg about how he manages the Cardinal's rigorous academic demands and the effort required from players to win three Pac-12 titles in four seasons.

His response was essentially the oral version of this tweet.

"For me, the biggest thing is the environment," Shaw said. "We've always said we're not going to choose one over the other, we want to be great at everything. For me as a head coach, I'm going to allow our guys to come to practice late so they're not missing class and I'm not going to give them a hard time about it... If you watch our practice, you're going to see a couple guys get there late and a couple guys leave early that have 7 o'clock classes and need to get off the practice field, and making sure there's an emphasis on doing extremely well in both. If you have to choose between school and football, you choose school. We're going to make up that time, that's fine, when you have the time.

"I think there are unbelievable time management skills that are essential that these young men are learning now. They also learn what's important and what's not. I think that's huge. Any thing that these young people do, particularly on a campus like Stanford University, if they love it, they're going to spend time on it.... I think counting the hours that somebody spends something extra and then blaming football for it, I think, is the wrong approach to take."

Shaw closed his answer by positioning Stanford as a northern star for others who are so inclined to fix themselves upon. "If nothing else, you can look at us and see that it's a model that can be duplicated other places," he said.

The NCAA will spend the next few years tied up in the federal court system, paying its lawyers to twist itself into knots to argue football players are student-athletes and nothing more.

Those lawyers would be wise to send Shaw to the stand and have him explain the way he runs the Stanford football program. It's a better defense than they could possibly construct on their own.