No matter how you slice it, Stanford football has arrived. Though we've since assumed all the trappings of a football powerhouse – the three straight runner-up finishes in Heisman voting, the two straight BCS bowl berths and top-10 finishes, the top-ten 2012 recruiting class, or the eminent graduation of top pro prospect of the last decade – it wasn't that long ago that Stanford football was an afterthought.
On December 19, 2006, new athletic director Bob Bowlsby hired Jim Harbaugh, a former star quarterback, but an unproven coach who had never worked at the FBS level. The rest, as they say, was history.
We are pleased present Stanford football's 40 most memorable moments, trends, games and personalities from the magical five-plus years that followed that December 2006 announcement.
18. Continuity Unknown to Mankind
David Shaw promoted to head coach after Jim Harbaugh's departure
So, when the savior left up 101 to Candlestick Park, how would the suddenly smooth-smailing, dominant Stanford football program avoid the iceberg?
On January 13, 2011 David Shaw was annointed the successor. His job would be to keep Stanford afloat. Avoiding the despair of the Buddy Teevens-Walt Harris era was, of course, a prerequisite. But would the new man in charge be able to continue Harbaugh's dominant push forward?
The first 2011 returns were positive. First, Shaw was able to seal the deal with almost all of Harbaugh's 2011 recruiting class, despite the rather unfortunate timing of his predecessor's departure. Then, he oversaw another dominant Stanford BCS season.
But even though the coach passed his first major test, Andrew Luck's presence under center undoubtedly eased the transition. The naysayers were still out. It wasn't until after his inaugural campaign that the new man in charge truly made his mark.
February 1, 2012 was the watershed moment.
Enter what is (at least on paper) Stanford's most impressive recruiting class ever. That glorious day finished a campaign during which Shaw and his staff managed to ink blue chip offensive linemen Andrus Peat, Kyle Murphy, and Joshua Garnett on top of touted running back Barry J. Sanders.
Harbaugh had always been lauded as a phenomenal recruiter, but he never accomplished what Shaw managed to do with the 2012 Stanford class. The new Cardinal man had amassed a Top 5 class that boasted what was, on paper, the greatest offensive line group since recruiting rankings had been seriously tallied.
Now that's continuity unknown to mankind.
50-41. More memorable moments - Loukas, Luck, and a phantom clipping call
40. Fake out - Luck stuns UW with a naked bootleg in 2010
39. Polls and bowls - Stanford climbs into college football's beauty contests
38. Steamrolled - Card run for 446 yards in 2011 beatdown of UW
37. Opening act - 2009 win over Ducks launches a November to remember
36. Going bowling - Loss to Sooners doesn't ruin first bowl game since 2001
35. "Shut up and play football" - Cal jaws pregame, falls behind 45-0 in 2010
34. Look ma, no legs - Luck throws a 52- yard dart while in free fall
33. Sit down - Burfict's head leads to go- ahead TD, Wilkerson's ices W at ASU
32. Injury bug - Despite multiple injuries, 2011 Card manage to rally
31. Whale watching - Stanford starts recruiting at an elite level
30. Suck for Luck - The media machine anoints the next football savior
29. Outta my way - Luck bounces off Cattouse for a 50-yard run
28. 0 for 3 - Card post three shutouts in 2010 campaign
27. Laying the wood - Luck lays out Wright
26. Concussed - Owusu is knocked out of four games
25. Jumping ahead - A 21-3 lead vanishes in Autzen in 2010
24. So close, yet so far - Luck's worst game costs Card 2009 Big Game
23. Run, Toby, run - Gerhart takes over against the Irish
22. Xs and Os… and Ys and Zs - Stanford toys with defensive coordinators
21. "The perfect football player" - Marecic makes purists weep
20. Rumor Mill - Report: Harbaugh to take every NFL job
19. "What's Your Deal?" - Stanford hands USC worst home beatdown ever
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