Stanford is a Viable Long-Term Threat to USC in the Pac-12, Due to Recruiting


The Stanford Cardinal have the dubious task of finding a quarterback to fill the shoes of Andrew Luck, and motivation to keep the team moving forward for a prolonged period. But for as much trouble as they’ve had in the past at maintaining a long-term success, they now seem likely to do so, despite a troubled past.


Ted Miller of ESPN’s Pac-12 Blog, highlighting the pressures of Stanford in an article this morning, hinting that the glory days of Stanford football may be hard to come by without Luck.

"Three consecutive Heisman Trophy runners-up, two consecutive BCS bowl games and final top-10 rankings: Hey, Stanford’s special run of football success was fun to watch. It was neat seeing the most academically elite university playing BCS football whipping the big boys. But we all know it can’t possibly last, right? Jim Harbaugh built it and he’s gone. Andrew Luck was a once-in-a-generation quarterback, and he’s gone. And he took with him three other offensive players among the first 42 selections in the NFL draft over the weekend."

But while Miller goes on to make a case that Harbaugh planted the seeds for a prolonged success and David Shaw is cultivating those seeds, the telling sign that Stanford could be very successful long term is their recent history on the recruiting trail. Remember ten to fifteen years ago when no one could recruit at Stanford? Tyrone Willingham could only take them so far, and Dennis Green could only have limited success, due to the pressures of the university’s world class education.

While those used to be road blocks, Stanford is now taking advantage of them, like they should. They’re not just resorting themselves to a style of recruiting a la one of the military academies, they’re seeking out the best talent possible and using their education as a recruiting tactic now, rather than an elephant in the room.

You look at guys like Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy, both of whom could have played anywhere in the country, including USC. Even the recruitment of Chris Owusu, Aziz Shittu and Stephan Taylor. These are talented players that had options, and proof that Stanford hasn’t just got lucky with one super star, Andrew Luck.

While it may be easy to put Stanford in the same boat as Hawai’i in the post-Colt Brennan era, or Utah in the post-Alex Smith era, the truth is that much like Boise State, Stanford has a plan for recruiting that takes advantage of their disadvantages.

Yes, they’re still a north-south, plodding, power football team as opposed to the speedy attack seen in Eugene. But, that gets you drafted, as evident with there being only four Pac-12 players drafted in the first round of last Thursday’s NFL Draft, two Trojans and two members of the Stanford Cardinal. Again, another bargaining chip for the Cardinal to exploit: pro-style offenses get players to play on Sundays.

When the North and South divisions in the Pac-12 were drawn up, many fans in California were outraged that the four traditional California rivals were broken up. Plus, it was clear that the Pac-12 offices were dreaming of a USC-Oregon title game for the modern fan, or a USC-Washington matchup for history’s sake. Little did they know, that with a looming NCAA demise of the Oregon Ducks, it’s a USC-Stanford rivalry that may take precedence in the Pac-12 Championship Game for years to come.