The search for the No. 1 candidate to rise as an African-American superstar in the NFL head coaching ranks stops at David Shaw.
He's got pedigree and he's a winner, and the premier African-American head coach at the college level (64-17 record and two Rose Bowl wins at Stanford since 2011). He's a football lifer and the son of an NFL coach, Willie Shaw. Willie was a Stanford assistant coach under Jack Christiansen from 1974–1976 and Dennis Green from 1989–1991, and an NFL assistant coach with the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, and St. Louis Rams.
The game needs him badly too.
With the exception of Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin -- whose popularity has fallen to the point where ex-Steelers greats are taking pot shots at him -- there are no young, identifiable, rising superstars in the ranks of potential black NFL head coaching candidates. Sure, we have qualified Black coordinators and former head honchos who could shock the world. But we haven’t found that coaching superstar yet. The Black Bill Belichick.
Shaw could be that dude. Like today.
His mastery as one of college football’s elite top shottas have thrust him to the head of the pack as far as elite Black pro coaching candidates go. He continues to build and sustain the excellence of the Cardinals football program while keeping his eye on the coaching carousel but never committing to its temptations.
Shaw was a four-year letter winner at wide receiver for the Cardinal from 1991 to 1994, where he was coached by pioneer Dennis Green and "The Genius" Bill Walsh.
Before returning to Stanford and working under Jim Harbaugh as the Cardinal offensive coordinator, Shaw was Harbaugh's passing game coordinator at the University of San Diego. He was also an assistant coach in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, and Baltimore Ravens. Working with QBs has always been a skill of Shaw’s and it is one of the most coveted aspects of an NFL head coaching candidates arsenal of appeal.
Shaw has continuously said that he is not interested in an NFL coaching job and has turned down interviews in the past. His ability to be picky and choosy is the complete opposite experience of most African-American head coaching candidates.
Most of these guys have to take what they are given, which is usually a really downtrodden franchise. Opportunities are still scarce for a brother in a league where 70 percent of the players are black and there are only four African-American head coaches out of 30 teams (13.3%)
Because of the proximity of his current situation, many journalists, fans and NFL execs agree that Shaw would be an ideal candidate for the LA Rams job or the San Francisco 49ers job. He visited the Rams locker room back in November for what that's worth. Media heads were buzzing about the visit though, showing the kind of excitement Shaw's presence incites.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Fansided offered some good insight into why Shaw should probably consider trading his $4 million salary in for a plush gig as a leader at the ultimate level of football.
“..the shift in power in the Pac-12 and the loss of a key player to the NFL in Christian McCaffrey may be enough to persuade Shaw to trade Stanford for the NFL. A Washington team that crushed Stanford 44-6 this season is likely to remain a significant obstacle to the Cardinal’s hopes of regaining Pac-12 supremacy, particularly with the Huskies boasting a talented quarterback in Jake Browning.”
Better for Shaw to bounce now, with this program still at the top, then to watch the natural order of life take effect and he fall upon some down years, thus devaluing his worth as a potential NFL HC which is still high, but maybe a tad bit lower than it was a few years ago. Ask Chip Kelly.
We can’t blame Shaw for not running to take the Rams or 49ers job. Those teams lack talent, stability at QB and need to be rebuilt. That’s a tough task for any coach. And with the life expectancy of Black NFL coaches (with the exception of Mike Tomlin) being two seasons in most cases, Shaw will wait until the right job comes along.
Denver wouldn’t be a bad spot for him. Gary Kubiak walks away from a 9-7 team that had some problems at QB, but were solid all-round. If Paxton Lynch is really the future, Shaw, who is noted as a QB guru of sorts and an offensive genius, doesn’t have to do too much to get this team back into Super Bowl contention.
San Diego isn’t that far either, but they have an aging QB and a ton of questions moving forward. It’s too messy.
Jacksonville? Maybe. Nine wins will get you an AFC South title these days. Buffalo? No thanks. QB controversies to start a career are bad for a brother's health.
While other Black coaches beg for interviews and quietly wait to be granted that once-in-lifetime opportunity, Shaw just chills in the cut, continues to stay true to Stanford and waits for that perfect opportunity.
He just can’t wait too long.