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Sunday, September 4, 2011
Win No. 1 emotional for Shaw

By Kevin Gemmell

Stanford head coach David Shaw entered the post-game news conference with a football in his hand. The football. The game ball.

It didn't go to running back Stepfan Taylor for his two rushing touchdowns. Or defensive end Henry Anderson for his fumble recovery and 37-yard return. Or linebacker Chase Thomas for his sack and tackle for a loss. Or even Heisman favorite Andrew Luck, who tossed a pair of touchdowns, ran for another, and is eligible for every game ball every week by default.

It went to Shaw. It was a unanimous team decision and it was presented to him by Luck in honor of his first win as Stanford's new head coach.

The gesture was a kind one. But the meaning behind it holds greater relevance. It was the team's way of saying Jim Harbaugh is off in NFL land and no longer our coach. You're our guy. You're our coach, and we're happy to have you as the captain of this redwood ship.

"A bunch of people suggested it to me ... I readily agreed," said Luck. "He's very deserving of the game ball. We're so excited to have him as our head coach. As much as he wanted to win, we really wanted to win for him and start him off on the right foot. We're excited for him and happy that he's coaching our team."

But not even that was the highlight for Shaw. It was his father, Willie, serving as honorary captain for the season opener. Willie Shaw coached at Stanford from 1974-76 and again from 1989-91.

"The most fun part, honestly, was watching my dad go out as a captain," Shaw said. "That was the most special thing. The fact that it was the Bill Walsh Legacy game, that was the icing on the cake for me ... that was special for me to be a part of that."