April 5, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford Athletics announced today that its defensive coordinator position has been endowed by a generous gift from an anonymous donor, named in honor of Willie Shaw, the former Cardinal defensive coordinator and father of current head coach David Shaw.
"This is another sign of how unique Stanford University is," said Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw. "Our donors and alumni have a passion for Stanford Football and feel a close connection to our program. Generous endowments are the result of those great relationships. Gifts like this make it possible for us to attract and retain the best coaches in America. Also, it is important to recognize how vital our defensive performance has been to our recent success, helping to elevate this program to the upper echelon of college football."
Associate head coach Derek Mason is Stanford's first Willie Shaw Director of Defense.
"The honor of this endowed position is all about these kids, this staff and this program, with what we have achieved, worked toward and aspired to become: one of the best defensive units in the country," said Mason. "What our defense has been able to accomplish has been nothing short of a blessing. People are now starting to take notice that Stanford's brand means playing physical, unrelenting football on both sides of the ball."
Mason is in his fourth year coaching at Stanford and his third coordinating the defense. In 2011 and 2012, he led the Cardinal to consecutive top-15 national standings in defensive efficiency. An historic defense under Mason's leadership last season broke Stanford's sacks record (57) and led the Pac-12 in scoring defense (17.21), total defense (336.21), rushing defense (97.0), sacks (4.07) and tackles for loss (9.00). The Cardinal ranked first nationally in sacks, second in tackles for loss, fifth in rushing defense and 11th in scoring defense. Over the last six games of the year Stanford held opponents scoreless in the fourth quarter and overtime. In 2011 Mason's defense ranked third nationally in rushing defense (84.38), sixth in third-down defense efficiency (31.10) and 11th in sacks (3.00).
An internship with St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Willie Shaw in 1995 boosted a young Derek Mason at the start of his coaching career, and that mentorship has continued to drive Mason today in his coordinating role at Stanford.
"The honor of being the Willie Shaw Director of Defense has special meaning to me because of how he has believed in and empowered me through a relationship of nearly two decades," said Mason. "Coach Shaw has profoundly helped foster my growth and understanding in what it takes to lead young men with lessons that extend to and far beyond the field of play. In the last two years, Coach Shaw has spent countless hours walking me through 40-plus years of experience and accelerated my development and leadership which has, in turn, translated into the everyday exhaustive progress and growth of our young men."
The honor bestowed upon his father in the naming of the endowed directorship surprised and affected Cardinal head coach David Shaw.
"I was emotional when I heard that this endowed directorship was named in my father's honor," said the younger Shaw. "My dad coached here two separate times, and the thing to me that stands out more than anything is how he impacted the lives of the men he coached here. My entire life, I have heard from the guys he coached here in the `70s and `90s how the original Coach Shaw made such a profound impact upon their lives. My dad identified Stanford legends like John Lynch, Ron George and Darrien Gordon, and he moved them to new positions to help them achieve extraordinary success. My dad's name being associated with the Stanford defensive coordinator to me is associating the position with toughness, intelligence, innovation and the spirit of mentoring young scholar-athletes."
Willie Shaw coached two times for three years each on The Farm. In 1974 he arrived as the outside linebackers and special teams coach before taking over the secondary in 1975-76. Shaw's return to Stanford in 1989 reprised his role with the secondary before he was named defensive coordinator for 1990-91. In 1990, Shaw engineered one of the Pac-10's great turnaround stories by leading the Cardinal to the top half in each of the conference's defensive statistics one year after being mired near the bottom.
A similar tale unfolded when Shaw took the defensive reins for the Oakland Raiders in 1998, lifting the NFL's last-ranked (30th) defense to the fifth-ranked unit in just one year.
Shaw's first Division I coaching job and first defensive coordinator opportunity both came at Stanford. Perhaps nobody has found more joy and pride witnessing the Cardinal's meteoric ascent and unparalleled success in recent years.
"It is hard to find the words to express how much I appreciate the Stanford experience which has changed my life and my family's life for nearly 40 years now," said the elder Shaw. "To be connected with Stanford Football into perpetuity like this is unbelievable. All of my associations and my family's associations with Stanford have made us complete and blessed."
During his 33-year coaching career, Willie Shaw coached 15 years in the NFL, including six as defensive coordinator or assistant head coach. He spent 12 years coaching in the Pac-10, and now his name takes a preeminent place in the leadership of Pac-12 Football for 2013 and beyond.