Stanford football head coach David Shaw called former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice his "cleanup hitter" when it comes to recruiting football players for the program on the rise.
Stanford's football team started its rise in 2007 under head coach Jim Harbaugh, who vowed the team would win with "character and cruelty," and Shaw, who was his offensive coordinator, took over seamlessly after Harbaugh went to the NFL to coach the San Francisco 49ers.
The Cardinal have gone to three straight BCS Bowl games, something which has not been accomplished by any school in the SEC conference, which has won college football's last seven BCS titles.
“All of our recruits, their families, our coaches and our players just truly appreciate the fact that she’s accessible and that she is clear in her passion,” Shaw said. “It’s something special to know that someone of her stature chose to be at Stanford football games rooting for Stanford University.”
Shaw said Rice "relates well" to recruits and and their families, and Stanford football players like Barry Sanders Jr. came to the Farm in part because of Rice's efforts.
“I never say that Stanford is the only option, but Stanford is about excellence, and you should want to go to a place where excellence is appreciated,” Rice told the Stanford Daily. “Here, you won’t be odd or unusual for caring about both academics and athletics.”
For years, Stanford, the school that has the toughest academic standards in college sports and has an admissions committee that ruthlessly enforces them, could not field quality football squads because of the limited number of players the school could recruit. But Harbaurgh started to use the school's academics as a bargaining chip in recruiting, and Rice has done the same.
And that seems to fit Rice's mentality, for Shaw says Rice "hates prevent defenses" and "loves defenses that are aggressive at the end of the game.”