ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos interviewed former Stanford head coach David Shaw, 50, on Wednesday. Shaw resigned from Stanford on Nov. 27 after 16 years with the program, the final 12 of which were as head coach. He leaves as the program’s all-time winningest head coach. He has not been reported to have interviewed with any other teams since his departure.

Shaw joined Jim Harbaugh’s initial Stanford staff as a 34-year-old offensive coordinator with five years as an NFL position coach under his belt. Over four seasons, Harbaugh’s staff took Stanford from a 1-11 dumpster fire to a 12-1 record and a No. 4 end-of-season ranking.

Then Harbaugh jumped for his alma mater, Michigan, and Shaw took over at Stanford, his own alma mater.

Shaw’s teams averaged more than 10 wins per season over his first eight years as a head coach. He won two Rose Bowls and appeared in another. He won three Pac-12 Championships. He was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year four times.

Over the past four seasons, the results have fallen off; he was 14-28 and didn’t make a bowl game. He resigned after Stanford’s 35-26 season-ending loss to BYU, which capped off a five-game losing streak.

The general consensus is that a lack of talent caused Shaw’s downfall. Recruiting to Stanford has always been difficult, given its high academic standards, but changes to NCAA transfer rules created more challenges. Gaining admission to Stanford is even more difficult as a transfer, so players could leave the program easily but the Cardinal struggled to replace them.

The Cardinal hardly benefited from the additional year of eligibility the NCAA granted all student-athletes after the pandemic. Gaining acceptance to graduate school at Stanford is even more challenging, so most of Stanford’s veterans transferred to another school to end their careers.

At the end of the day, Shaw’s resume is his record but it’s worth remembering that recruiting won’t be part of his NFL duties.

Now, Shaw is hitting the market for the first time since 2007, and it’s tough to predict the results. His recent record is poor, but he has plenty of success in his past and is still relatively young at 50 years old. He was the eighth highest-paid head coach in college football in 2022 with a salary of nearly $10 million per year, according to 247Sports. For what it’s worth, that’s more than Harbaugh—another candidate for the Broncos’ job—made at Michigan.

Shaw has been linked to multiple NFL openings over the past half-decade but has never accepted an interview request. Living in Palo Alto as one of the highest-paid people in his industry and making appearances in the NCAA’s top 10 in six of 12 seasons is tough to say goodbye too.

Broncos CEO Greg Penner and Carrie Walton-Penner, two of the six members of the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group, earned master’s degrees from Stanford. Another member, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is the director of the Hoover Institute at Stanford and has been involved with Stanford’s football program for more than a decade.

The ownership group, which is the wealthiest in the NFL, has indicated that it is looking for a head coach with experience and strong leadership skills. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the group will be “ultra-aggressive” in courting their targets.

The Broncos also interviewed Harbaugh this week. The interview was conducted virtually. The Broncos have met with two other candidates; former Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and current Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. Some candidates, like former Saints head coach Sean Payton, cannot be interviewed until next week. The Broncos will be the first team to interview Payton, on Tuesday.

If the Broncos don’t offer Shaw a head job, they could hire him as an offensive coordinator. He was Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator for all four of his years at Stanford, and Payton has publicly praised Shaw in the past. Either coach could choose Shaw to run his offense, though Shaw would take a hefty paycut to accept the position. Shaw has roots in the West Coast offense and likely uses similar terminology to what the Broncos’ used in 2022, which could simplify the transition.


Henry was born in Columbia Falls, Montana and graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 2015. He earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Montana in 2019. After graduation, he joined DNVR. He spent three years covering the University of Colorado before moving to the Broncos beat ahead of the 2022 season. Henry joined DNVR as a remote staff writer in 2017, providing support to BSN's Broncos beat reporters. He interned at DNVR headquarters in the summer of 2018 and accepted a full-time position after graduating from UM. Follow Henry on Twitter - @HenryChisholm