As we're all well aware, nothing about recruiting is an exact science. Chasing around 16-18 year old kids on social media and on the phone giving your best pitch alongside numerous other programs after the same kid is anything but scientific.
Some FBS staffs offer 100 scholarships, others offer 200, or even 300 in rare cases. Then there's Stanford, the most selective of the selective.
They have a certain player and student that they want...perhaps more specific than any other program in the country. If they find a player that fits that certain mold, they'll offer him and sell him a pitch that few programs can match; a great school with an outstanding worldwide reputation, and a chance to play a hard nosed brand of football that (if we're being honest) is rare in today's college football landscape.
In the 2015 class so far, Stanford has extended just 64 scholarship offers, according to their Rivals affiliate site. On the other side of the spectrum, Louisville (who went from Charlie Strong's staff to Bobby Petrino's) has offered 300 scholarships to the same class and Alabama has offered over 200. The only other programs that finished in the top 25 and have currently offered less than 100 scholarship to the 2015 class were Oklahoma State (71), Baylor (79), and USC (97).
The original article further breaks down the previous class (2014) by Pac-12 institutions, Top-50 US News and World Report rankings, offers per signee (which Stanford also leads nationally) in conference and among the top 25 and no matter what way you slice it, Stanford's staff is the most selective when it comes to offering.
Another note that I found quite impressive; In the 2014 class, Stanford offered 84 scholarships, and signed 20 of them, good for 4.2 offers per signee,. It should go without saying that ranks as the best in the nation. Defending national champ Florida State offered 246 guys in that same class, signing 28 (8.79 offers per signee).
The wide range of offers among top programs proves that there is certainly value in each method, you just have to find what works for you and your staff. There's no doubt that David Shaw knows what works for them.