AP Sports Writer
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- The day David Shaw became Stanford's head coach almost two years ago, he said he never wanted to interview for another football job again. He walked out of his first news conference and up to his new office, where he spent about 90 minutes reflecting with his father, Willie Shaw, who had lost out on the same position to Bill Walsh two decades prior.
"There was a tear or two shed in there," Willie Shaw said.
At the rate his son is going, job security no longer seems to be an issue. Instead, Shaw will likely have suitors calling from all over soon -- though he still insists he's not going anywhere.
The former Cardinal wide receiver and assistant has not only kept his alma mater a national power, he has started to build his own legacy on The Farm. Shaw won the Pac-12 Conference's Coach of the Year award for the second straight season Monday, becoming only the fifth coach in league history to take home the honor in consecutive years.
Shaw also has a chance to do something even his more prominent predecessor, Jim Harbaugh, never could: win the league title and secure a Rose Bowl berth when eighth-ranked Stanford (10-2, 8-1) hosts No. 17 UCLA (9-3, 6-3) in the league championship game Friday.
"Very seldom do you get to see somebody live their dream, whether they're your son or not," Willie Shaw said. "He's living that dream."
While Harbaugh turned Stanford into a surprising contender, Shaw's steady hand has kept the program going strong since the San Francisco 49ers hired Harbaugh away in January 2011.
Shaw led the Cardinal to an 11-1 record before a 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State in last season's Fiesta Bowl. This year has perhaps been even more impressive: Shaw helped Stanford overcome the departure of No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck, seamlessly made a midseason quarterback change from Josh Nunes to redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan and overtook Oregon to win the league's North Division crown.
Even still, when asked after Monday night's practice what he thought of winning the award in his first two seasons, Shaw said, "Crazy, isn't it?"
"I was surprised," Shaw said. "To be honest, I didn't even think about it. I'm very appreciative. Very grateful. There are a lot of guys in this conference that I respect very, very highly. And for those guys to vote for me, it's humbling."
Shaw's relentless recruiting also has put Stanford in position to contend in the Pac-12 -- and perhaps even more -- for the next several years with a roster stacked with underclassmen who are already key contributors. So much so that Shaw figures to be the latest in a long line of Cardinal coaches whose name begins to gain traction for even bigger jobs in the offseason.
New Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir takes that as a compliment. While he won't publicly discuss whether he plans to extend Shaw's four-year contract after two years this offseason, Muir said he knows that Shaw "wants to be here for quite some time, and we've got to be here to support him."
"It's just been so impressive to watch him work and do his craft and do it so well," said Muir, who took over in mid-August after Bob Bowlsby left to become the Big 12 Conference commissioner. "I'm just so impressed by his demeanor, just taking everything in stride and being able to execute his plan and his vision for the program."
That vision has started to become clearer.
All of 40 years old, Shaw has showed the ability to bond with players in ways even Harbaugh couldn't, understanding as he does the intricacies of a rigorous academics university that practically raised him: as a coach's son, student, player, assistant coach, husband and father -- he even proposed to his wife, Kori, outside of Stanford's Memorial Church, then convinced her to wait more than a year "because it takes that long to get married in the Stanford church."
"He came here, he played here, he knows what the type of players who go here are like," said fifth-year linebacker Chase Thomas, who was recruited by Harbaugh. "The strenuous activities of school and athletics. He knows what Stanford is about, and he definitely shows that."
Shaw has emerged from the shadow of the man who rebuilt Stanford and put his own stamp on the program.
He doesn't sleep in his office, work 20-hour days or show emotion the way Harbaugh often did. He avoids scheduling early morning meetings so assistant coaches can have breakfast with their kids and take them to school.