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Looking back at Dennis Green's memorable Stanford tenure

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Jarrett Bell's personal connection to Dennis Green (3:14)

Jarrett Bell looks back on the life of Dennis Green and what he meant to the NFL and future coaches. (3:14)

When news of Dennis Green's passing on Thursday night became public, the internet reminisced on his time as a head coach in college football and in the NFL.

The events of a quarter century ago are a bit shrouded in history now, but it's interesting to remember that Green -- the Pac-12's first African-American head football coach -- led Stanford from 1989 to 1991, leaving a significant impact on the Cardinal that reverberated on the Farm about 15 years later, when Jim Harbaugh arrived and delivered a similar revival.

Green revived a stagnant Stanford football program. His team knocked off top-ranked Notre Dame on the road in 1990 before finishing 8-3 in his final season. Green's defensive coordinator at Stanford was Willie Shaw, father of David Shaw -- the man who would become (and still is) the Cardinal's head coach 20 years later.

"Though our staff, Coach [Tyrone Willingham’s] and Coach Harbaugh's have all had success, Coach Green was the first to win at Stanford with the combination of a physical running game, a West Coast passing attack and an aggressive defense,” David Shaw said. "Stanford football will miss Coach Green and forever be grateful."

Green coached Stanford at a fascinating time filled with future big names, so his breadth of connections doesn't end there. Future Super Bowl champion Brian Billick and Tyrone Willingham were also on his Stanford staff. David Shaw, Ed McCaffrey, John Lynch, Bob Whitfield and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey all played under Green at Stanford. None other than the legendary Bill Walsh replaced Green at the Cardinal helm after the NFL came calling.

It was Green's decision to go for the win by two-point conversion (instead of a tie, which was possible at the time) in the 1990 Big Game that set in motion one of the most memorable finishes in college football history.

"Denny Green doesn't play for ties," the television announcer famously said.

Stanford beat California 27-25 in a game that Cardinal fans dub "The Revenge of the [1982] Play." That was a pivotal moment in Green's college coaching career, as it set Stanford on a winning trajectory for the next season.

Green would parlay that 1991 success into the head gig of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings the following year, and the rest is history.