Stanford Cardinal football
2024 Stanford Cardinal football team
First season1891; 133 years ago[n 1]
Athletic directorBernard Muir
Head coachTroy Taylor
1st season, 3–9 (.250)
StadiumStanford Stadium
(capacity: 50,424)
FieldFoster Field
Year built1921
Field surfaceGrass
LocationStanford, California
NCAA divisionDivision I FBS
ConferenceAtlantic Coast Conference
Past conferencesIndependent (1891–1905)
PCC (1919–1958)
AAWU (1959–1967)
Pac 8 (1968–1977)
Pac 10 (1978–2010)
Pac 12 (2011–2023)
All-time record665–478–49 (.578)
Bowl record15–14–1 (.517)
Claimed national titles2 (1926, 1940)
Conference titles15
Division titles5
RivalriesCalifornia (rivalry)
USC (rivalry)
Notre Dame (rivalry)
San Jose State (rivalry)
Heisman winnersJim Plunkett – 1970
Consensus All-Americans37
Current uniform
ColorsCardinal and white[1]
Fight song"Come Join The Band" (official)
"All Right Now" (de facto)
MascotNone[n 2]
Marching bandLeland Stanford Junior University Marching Band

The Stanford Cardinal football program represents Stanford University in college football at the NCAA Division I FBS level and is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The team is known as the Cardinal, adopted prior to the 1982 season.[2] Stanford was known as the "Cardinal" for its first two decades of athletic competition,[3] then more commonly as the "Cardinals" until 1930.[4] The name was changed to the "Indians" from 1930 to January 1972,[5] and back to the "Cardinals" from 1972 through 1981. A student vote in December 1975 to change the nickname to "Robber Barons" was not approved by administrators.[5][6]

Stanford has fielded football teams every year since 1892 with a few exceptions. Like a number of other teams from the era concerned with violence in the sport, the school dropped football in favor of rugby from 1906 to 1917. The school also did not field a team in 1918 (due to World War I) or in 1943, 1944, and 1945 (due to World War II).

The school participated in the first-ever Rose Bowl against Michigan in 1902, in which they were routed 49–0. Its annual Big Game against California is the oldest and most storied rivalry in the Pac-12 and western United States. The Cardinal also compete for the Legends Trophy against independent rival Notre Dame.

The program has an all-time record of 664–478–49 for a winning percentage of .578[7] and has winning series records against all of its Pac-12 North rivals, except for the Washington Huskies, against whom they are tied 43–43–4.[8][9] Stanford claimed national championships in 1926 and 1940. In 1926, led by coach Pop Warner, the team was undefeated in the regular season and tied Alabama in the 1927 Rose Bowl. The 1940 team went unbeaten and untied after defeating Nebraska 21–13 in the 1941 Rose Bowl, but the team ranked No. 2 in the final AP poll released before the game was played.

Pop Warner's era predated the AP poll, but Stanford has finished at least one season in the Top 10 in six different decades under seven different coaches: Claude E. Thornhill in 1934, Clark Shaughnessy in 1940, Chuck Taylor in 1951, John Ralston in 1970 and 1971, Bill Walsh in 1992, Jim Harbaugh in 2010, and David Shaw in 2011, 2012, and 2015. Coach Shaw, as of the 2017 season, has the most wins of any Stanford coach in history. Stanford's most recent season finish in the top 5 was in 2015 after the No. 5 Cardinal dismantled Big Ten West Division Champion No. 6 Iowa Hawkeyes 45–16 in the 2016 Rose Bowl to finish with a record of 12–2 (Stanford's third 12-win season ever, after 2010 and 2012) and a final ranking of No. 3 in the final AP Poll and the final Coaches Poll (Stanford's highest AP Poll ranking since 1940 and its highest Coaches Poll ranking ever).

The Cardinal have played in 30 bowl games in their history, including 17 appearances in bowls now comprising the College Football Playoff, specifically 15 Rose Bowls (the third-most appearances of any team, behind only USC's 33 appearances and Michigan's 22),[citation needed] the 2011 Orange Bowl, and the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.

Quarterback Jim Plunkett is the only Stanford player to win the Heisman Trophy, doing so in 1970. Stanford players have finished second in Heisman voting six times: quarterback John Elway was second to Herschel Walker in 1982; running back Toby Gerhart was second to Mark Ingram II in 2009; quarterback Andrew Luck finished second to Cam Newton in 2010 and to Robert Griffin III in 2011; running back Christian McCaffrey finished second to Derrick Henry in 2015; and running back Bryce Love finished second to Baker Mayfield in 2017.[10]


See also: List of Stanford Cardinal football seasons, List of Stanford Cardinal bowl games, and List of Pac-12 Conference football standings

Early history (1891–1979)

The Stanford team of 1892, that would play the first Big Game ever

Stanford first fielded a football team in 1891. The team was without a coach and only played a few games. Early football pioneer Walter Camp served as Stanford's head coach in 1892 and from 1894 to 1895. Football on the Pacific Coast had been on the rise since the late 1910s.[n 3]

Pop Warner era

Early in 1922, Pop Warner signed a contract with Stanford University in which he would begin coaching in 1924, after his contract with Pitt expired.[12] Health concerns, a significant pay raise and the rising status of Pacific Coast football made Warner make the big change. Years later, he wrote:

I felt my health would be better on the Pacific coast. Weather conditions at Pittsburgh during the football season are rather disagreeable, and much of the late season work had to be done upon a field which was ankle deep in mud. At the close of every season I would be in poor physical condition, twice being rendered incapable of coaching while I recuperated in a hospital. Doctors advised me that the climate of the Pacific coast would be much better for a man of my age and in the work in which I was engaged.[13]

In 1924, Warner began his nine-year tenure at Stanford.[n 4] When he began coaching, Stanford was one of nine teams in the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC). Warner inherited a notable squad from the previous year, including Ernie Nevers (whom Warner considered his greatest player)[15] and All-American ends Ted Shipkey and Jim Lawson.[16]

A season highlight was the final game against Stanford's arch-rival California at California Memorial Stadium, the last game of the regular season. Before the game, both teams were undefeated and Stanford had not beaten California since 1905.[n 5][16] Nevers did not play due to a broken ankle.[17] Late in the game, California was leading 20–3; California coach Andy Smith, sure the game was over, began substituting regular players.[18] Warner seized the opportunity to combine passing with the trick plays for which he was known (a fake reverse and a full spinner), and Stanford made a comeback. The game ended in a 20–20 tie.[18]

Warner called Ernie Nevers (pictured) his greatest player.

Because the game was California's second tie, Stanford was chosen to play in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day against the University of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish coached by Knute Rockne. Like Warner, Rockne is considered one of the greatest coaches in football history. According to journalist Allison Danzig, "With the exception of Knute Rockne of Notre Dame, Pop Warner was the most publicized coach in football."[19] The game was thus a test of two different and highly influential systems of football:[20] "the Warner system with the wing backs, unbalanced line and gigantic power [and the] Knute Rockne system with its rhythmic, dancing shift, lightning speed, balanced line and finely timed blocking".[21][22] Notre Dame's backfield was composed of the renowned Four Horsemen. Nevers played all 60 minutes of the game, and rushed for 114 yd (104 m) (more yardage than the Four Horsemen combined).[23] Warner's offense moved the ball but was unable to score, and Notre Dame won 27–10.[24]

During the 1925 season, Stanford lost just one PCC game (to Washington);[25] California was finally defeated, 27–7. It was the first year of a new rivalry, with coach Howard Jones and the University of Southern California (USC) team.[n 6] In their first game, at the Los Angeles Memorial Colosseum, Stanford scored twice in the first half but had to hold off the charging Trojans in a 13–9 win. Because of the loss to Washington, Warner's team was not invited to the Rose Bowl.[25] Stanford won all its 1926 games, crushing California 41–7 and narrowly defeating USC 13–12.[28] Warner's team was invited to the Rose Bowl to play Alabama. Like the game against the Fighting Irish, Stanford dominated but the result was a 7–7 tie.[28] After the game, both teams were recognized as national champions by a number of publications.[29][n 7] The 1927 season was one of underachievement and ultimate success. Stanford lost its third game to non-conference St. Mary's College.[31] Stanford's next loss was against non-conference Santa Clara. The game against USC was a 13–13 tie.[31] However, that year, Stanford defeated California 13–6. The game included a bootleg play, the invention of which some credit to Warner. Powers stated that,

Stanford put the game on ice in the fourth period when Pop introduced the bootlegger play, which was to be widely copied and still is in use. On the original bootlegger, Warner made use of Biff Hoffman's tremendous hands. Hoffman would take the pass from center and then fake to another back. Keeping the ball, he would hide it behind him and run as though he had given it to a teammate. Sometimes defensive players would step out of Hoffman's path, thinking he was going to block. Hoffman "bootlegged" for the touchdown against California ...[32]

Despite the two losses, Stanford finished the season as PCC co-champion. They were invited to the 1928 Rose Bowl against Pitt, Warner's former team now coached by protégé Jock Sutherland. Warner broke his losing Rose Bowl streak, defeating Sutherland 7–6.[33] The win was Warner's last appearance at the Rose Bowl.[34] The 1929 season is known for Warner's regular use of the hook and lateral, a play that involves a receiver who runs a curl pattern, catches a short pass and immediately laterals the ball to another receiver running a crossing route.[35] According to the October 25, 1929 Stanford Daily, "The trickiness that Pop Warner made famous in his spin plays and passing is very evident ... The frosh have been drilling all week on fast, deceptive forward and lateral pass plays, and together with the reverses will have a widely varied attack".[36] That season brought Warner his second straight loss to Jones, with Stanford defeated by the Trojans 7–0. USC won the conference, and went to the Rose Bowl.[35] Jones went on to win every year thereafter, including 1932, Warner's last season at Stanford. Because of the five consecutive defeats, Warner was severely criticized by Stanford alumni.[n 8] In all, Warner and Jones played eight games; Jones won five, Warner two and one was a tie.[38] Against Stanford's main rival, California, Warner won five games, tied three and lost one.[37]

Vow Boys

Bobby Grayson, one of the "Vow Boys"

After Pop Warner's departure, Claude E. "Tiny" Thornhill was promoted from line coach and named head coach prior to the 1933 season. Players of the Stanford class of 1936 had seen Stanford's 13–0 home loss to rival USC during their freshman season, 1932. This caused quarterback Frank Alustiza to proclaim, “They will never do that to our team. We will never lose to the Trojans.”[39] A few minutes later, Bob "Bones" Hamilton said,[40] “Let’s make that a vow.”[39] and the team became known as the "Vow Boys".[41]

The press reported on the vow, but it was forgotten until the next fall—facing USC during Thornhill's first season, the Stanford varsity was suddenly called upon to make good on it.[39] The team kept its pledge, winning each of their contests over USC: 13–7 in 1933, 16–0 in 1934, and 3–0 in 1935. Four of the Vow Boys—Bobby Grayson (fullback),[42] "Bones" Hamilton (halfback),[40] Jim "Monk" Moscrip (end),[43] and Bob "Horse" Reynolds (tackle)[44]—were later inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Other notable players whose careers overlapped with the Vow Boys included David Packard (class of 1934), who went on to co-found Hewlett-Packard,[45] and Bill Corbus, a guard and kicker during the 1931–1933 seasons who was also inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame.[46]

In his first three years, Thornhill led his Indians to the Rose Bowl Game each season. Thornhill was the first Stanford coach to lead his team to postseason play in his first three seasons, a feat not matched until David Shaw's 2011 to 2013 teams. Stanford lost the first two appearances, but won the 1936 Rose Bowl over SMU, 7–0. After those first three seasons, Thornhill's teams went steadily downhill, culminating in a 1–7–1 season in 1939, after which Thornhill was fired and replaced by Clark Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy coached the team for two seasons, posting an undefeated record for the 1940 season—that team ran the T formation and was nicknamed the "Wow Boys"[47]—culminating with a win in the Rose Bowl over Nebraska.[48]

World War II and later

Marchmont Schwartz led Stanford's football program from 1942 to 1950 (Stanford did not field a football team from 1943 to 1945 because of World War II). During his tenure, Stanford made one bowl appearance, a win in the 1949 Pineapple Bowl. Chuck Taylor led Stanford's football team from 1951 to 1957. Taylor's 1951 team finished 9–2 and lost in the Rose Bowl. The tenure of Jack Curtice was a dismal one. The Indians compiled a record of 14–36 from 1957 to 1962, which included an 0–10 campaign in 1960.

John Elway played quarterback at Stanford from 1979 to 1982

John Ralston came to Stanford in 1963 and helped revive a sagging program. Over nine seasons, Ralston guided the team back to national respectability while building a mark of 55–36–3. In his last two seasons, 1970–1971, Ralston's teams won two Pacific-8 titles and notched back-to-back Rose Bowl victories over Ohio State and Michigan, both of whom were undefeated coming into the Rose Bowl game. Under Ralston's tutelage, Stanford quarterback Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy in 1970. Plunkett and a stout defense led the team to a 9–3 record in 1970, an effort which resulted in a Rose Bowl victory, the program's 4th. Plunkett also won the Heisman trophy that season, and he remains the only Stanford player to receive the award. Stanford won the Rose Bowl again the following year, 13–12 over Michigan, as Stanford kicker Rod Garcia booted a 31-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in the game. Ralston left Stanford following the 1971 season to take his talents to the NFL, accepting the position of head coach for the Denver Broncos.[49] In January 1972, when Ralston left to coach the NFL's Denver Broncos, Jack Christiansen was promoted from assistant coach and hired as Stanford's head coach.[50] Christiansen spent five years as Stanford's head coach, compiling a winning record each year and a 30–22–3 overall record. He was criticized for starting Mike Cordova rather than Guy Benjamin at quarterback during the 1975 season and for switching between quarterbacks during the 1976 season. One day prior to the final game of the 1976 season, Stanford announced that it was terminating Christiansen as its head coach.[51] Under Christianson, Stanford never had a losing season, though Christiansen's tenure was largely marked by mediocrity. He left Stanford in 1976, having amassed a 30–22–3 record.[52] In 1977, Bill Walsh was hired as the head coach. He stayed for two seasons. His two Stanford teams were successful, posting a 9–3 record in 1977 with a win in the Sun Bowl, and 8–4 in 1978 with a win in the Bluebonnet Bowl. His notable players at Stanford included quarterbacks Guy Benjamin and Steve Dils, wide receivers James Lofton and Ken Margerum, linebacker Gordy Ceresino, in addition to running back Darrin Nelson. Walsh was the Pac-8 Conference Coach of the Year in 1977. Walsh left Stanford after the 1978 season to move to the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, where he would earn a reputation as one of the NFL's greatest head coaches of all time.[53] In 1979, Rod Dowhower was promoted from wide receivers coach to Stanford's head coach.[54] In his lone season, Stanford compiled a record of 5–5–1.[55] Future NFL hall of famer John Elway enrolled at Stanford in 1979. Elway became one of Stanford's most iconic and successful players; however, the team struggled during his tenure.

Paul Wiggin era (1980–1983)

New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Paul Wiggin was hired as head coach at his alma mater on February 1, 1980. Despite the presence of quarterback John Elway on the team during his first three years, Wiggin was unable to lead Stanford to a bowl game during his tenure and was dismissed following the 1983 season with a 16–28 record over four years. Wiggin's efforts to reach a bowl game had come agonizingly close in 1982, when his team fell victim to what simply became known as The Play on November 20. In an incredible finish against Cal, the school's arch-rival, Stanford, led by quarterback Elway, drove down the field to kick a go-ahead field goal with just seconds left. On the ensuing kickoff, Cal lateraled five times to score the winning touchdown. Elway's career culminated in that game's loss, a game Stanford athletic director Andy Geiger said cost Elway the Heisman Trophy.[56] Wiggin was fired following a poor 1–10 campaign in 1983.[57]

Jack Elway era (1984–1988)

Succeeding Wiggin as the Cardinal's head coach was John Elway's father, Jack Elway, who came to Stanford from San Jose State.[58] Under his tutelage, the Cardinal compiled a record of 25–29–2.[59] The best season during the Elway era was an 8–4 campaign in 1986, which culminated in a loss in the Gator Bowl.[60] That season would be the only winning campaign during Elway's tenure as head coach. He was dismissed after 3–6–2 season in 1988.[58]

Dennis Green era (1989–1991)

In 1989, former Northwestern head coach Dennis Green left the 49ers, where he was serving as wide receivers coach, and took the head coaching position at Stanford, inheriting a team that had graduated 17 of its 21 starters from 1988. Green led the Cardinal from 1989 to 1991. During that time, his teams finished with an overall record of 16–18,[61] going 3–0 in the Big Game against the California Golden Bears. In 1990, his Stanford team defeated the top-ranked Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. His tenure culminated with an 8–4 record (Stanford's best since 1986).[62] A loss to Washington in the opening game of the season was the deciding factor for the Pac-10 championship. The Cardinal made an appearance in the 1991 Aloha Bowl, where his team lost to Georgia Tech on a last-minute touchdown. Green left Stanford after three seasons to accept the head coaching position with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.[63]

Walsh's return (1992–1994)

Bill Walsh returned to Stanford as head coach in 1992, leading the Cardinal to a 10–3 record and a Pacific-10 Conference co-championship. Stanford finished the season with an upset victory over Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl on January 1, 1993 and a # 9 ranking in the final AP Poll. In 1994, after consecutive losing seasons, Walsh left Stanford and retired from coaching.[64]

Tyrone Willingham era (1995–2001)

Tyrone Willingham

Despite lacking experience as a head coach or coordinator, Tyrone Willingham was appointed head coach of the football program at Stanford, succeeding Bill Walsh.[65] In his seven seasons as head coach, he led the Cardinal to a 44–36–1 record and four bowl game appearances.[66] In 2000, he was presented with the Eddie Robinson Coach of Distinction Award that is given annually to honor "an outstanding college football coach and role model for career achievement".[67] His best team was the 1999 team, which won the school's first outright Pacific-10 Conference title in 29 years and appeared in the 2000 Rose Bowl. Willingham's 44 wins were the most by a Stanford coach since John Ralston. Troy Walters was arguably Stanford's best player during this time, receiving All-American honors and the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 1999, and setting school career records in receiving yards and receptions. Willingham left Stanford following the 2001 season to accept the head coaching position at Notre Dame.[68]

Buddy Teevens era (2002–2004)

Buddy Teevens coached Stanford from 2002 to 2004.[69] In his three years at the Farm, his teams posted a 10–23 record,[69] beat BYU twice and San Jose State three times.[70] However, Stanford failed to improve much during his tenure. Teevens went winless against rivals USC, Cal, and Notre Dame, and never posted a win against a team that finished the season with a winning record.[70] Teevens was fired on November 29, 2004.[71] The Associated Press noted that Teevens was "respected for his class and loyalty" and that he even appeared at the official announcement of his firing.[72]

Walt Harris era (2005–2006)

Walt Harris was the head coach at Stanford for two seasons. In his first season as head coach there he posted a record of 5–6. In his second season as head coach the team posted a 1–11 record, the school's worst since going 0–10 in 1960.[73] Harris was notorious for the extremely rare and bizarre decision to punt on 3rd down while trailing UCLA 7–0 on October 1, 2006, during his second season.[74] He was fired on December 4, 2006, two days after Stanford's regular season ended. By the end of his tenure at Stanford, Harris had surpassed Jack Curtice with the lowest winning percentage in the history of Stanford football, with a .261 mark.[75]

Jim Harbaugh era (2007–2010)

Coach Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh was named the head football coach at Stanford University in December 2006, replacing Walt Harris.[76] Harbaugh's father, Jack, was Stanford's defensive coordinator from 1980 to 1981, while Harbaugh attended Palo Alto High School, located directly across the street from Stanford Stadium.[77]

2007 offense lined up for a play

Harbaugh stirred some intra-conference controversy in March 2007, when he was quoted as saying rival USC head coach "Pete Carroll's only got one more year, though. He'll be there one more year. That's what I've heard. I heard it inside the staff." Upon further questions, Harbaugh claimed he had heard it from staff at USC. The comment caused a rebuke from Carroll.[78] (In fact, Carroll would be at USC for three more years.) At the Pacific-10 Conference media day on July 26, 2007, Harbaugh praised the Trojans, stating "There is no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the country and may be the best team in the history of college football." The declaration, especially in light of his earlier comment, garnered more media attention.[79][80] Later in the season, Stanford defeated No. 1 USC 24–23 with a touchdown in the final minute. With USC being the favorite by 41 points, it was statistically the greatest upset in college football history.[81][82] Although Stanford lost to USC in 2008, Harbaugh and the Stanford Cardinal upset USC at home again with a score of 55–21 on November 14, 2009.[83] Stanford's 55 points was the most ever scored on USC in the Trojans' history until Oregon scored 62 in a 62–51 win over USC on November 3, 2012. It was Pete Carroll's first November loss as USC head coach. Harbaugh never lost in USC's home stadium, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In January 2009, Harbaugh was confirmed to have been interviewed by the New York Jets for the head coach position,[84] although the job was eventually offered to Rex Ryan.[85]

In 2009, the Cardinal had a comeback season, finishing the regular season at 8–4, finishing No. 21 in the polls, and receiving an invitation to play in the 2009 Sun Bowl, the Cardinal's first bowl appearance since 2001. Running back Toby Gerhart was named a Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing second to Mark Ingram II in the closest margin of voting in Heisman history. On December 13, 2009, Harbaugh was rewarded with a three-year contract extension through the 2014 season.[86] The 2010 season brought more success for Harbaugh and the Cardinal. The team went 11–1 in the regular season, with their only loss coming from Oregon, a team that was undefeated and earned a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. The first 11 win season in program history earned the Cardinal a No. 4 BCS ranking and a BCS bowl invitation to the Orange Bowl. Stanford defeated Virginia Tech 40–12 for the Cardinal's first bowl win since 1996 and the first BCS bowl victory in program history.[87] Second year starting quarterback Andrew Luck was the runner-up to for the Heisman Trophy, the second year in a row that the runner-up was from Stanford.[88] Harbaugh's 4-year record at Stanford was 29–21 (.580). Harbaugh was named the winner of the Woody Hayes Coach of the Year Award.[89]

David Shaw era (2011–2022)

Inheriting a robust program from Jim Harbaugh, David Shaw oversaw the Cardinal's deterioration from a dominant football program vying for national championships to a struggling and demotivated team that was consistently blown out week after week. After Harbaugh left to coach the San Francisco 49ers, the team's offensive coordinator David Shaw became head coach.[90] Shaw led the team to three consecutive BCS bowl games, including two Rose Bowls. The team was led by its quarterback, Andrew Luck, and its dominating defense. After Luck departed for the NFL draft, Kevin Hogan became the team's starting quarterback. Hogan led the team to a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.[91] The team returned to the Rose Bowl again the following year in the 2013 season, but lost a heart-breaker to Michigan State. After a rebuilding season in 2014, the 2015 season saw Shaw, Hogan, and Heisman runner up Christian McCaffrey lead Stanford to its third Pac-12 championship in four years, and consequently, its third Rose Bowl in four years. With the 2015 conference title, Shaw became the first Stanford coach in 80 years to win three conference titles and only the third ever in program history (after Tiny Thornhill from 1933 to 1935 and Pop Warner in 1924, 1926, and 1927).[92] In 2017, Shaw once again led Stanford to a Pac-12 Championship appearance with Heisman runner up Bryce Love only to lose to rival USC. After two consecutive 3–9 seasons, Shaw resigned as head coach, effective immediately, on November 27, 2022, just over an hour after the end of Stanford's last game of the 2022 season.[93]

Troy Taylor era (2023–present)

Former Sacramento State football coach Troy Taylor was named the 35th head football coach in Stanford history on December 10, 2022. Taylor graduated at archrival Cal and served as an assistant coach there from 1996-99 and as a radio color analyst from 2005-11. Prior to Sacramento State, he was offensive coordinator at Utah and Eastern Washington. Taylor's tenure began with a win against Hawaii, but was followed up with four consecutive losses against USC, Taylor's previous school Sacramento State, Arizona, and Oregon. After staging a 29 point comeback against Deion Sanders' led Colorado, the fourth biggest comeback in Pac-12 history, the Cardinal proceeded to lose all but one of its remaining games, beating Washington State and losing to UCLA, Washington, Oregon State, Cal, and Notre Dame. Stanford finished 129th out of 130 teams in points allowed (37.2), yards allowed (461.7), and passing yards allowed (298), and finished 110th in points (20.6) and 92nd in yards (351.4). They were the only team in FBS without a home win and lost five games by 33 points or more.[94]

Conference affiliations


National championships

Stanford has won two (1926, 1940) national championships from NCAA-designated major selectors.[95][96] Stanford claims both of these national championships.[97]

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl Result Final AP Final Coaches
1926 Pop Warner Dickinson System, Helms Athletic Foundation, National Championship Foundation, Sagarin (ELOChess) 10–0–1 Rose Bowl T 7–7
1940 Clark Shaughnessy Billingsley Report, Helms, Poling System,[98] Williamson System[99] 10–0 Rose Bowl W 21–13 No. 2

Conference championships

Stanford has won 15 conference championships, with four shared. They have the fourth most in the Pac-12 Conference, behind UCLA, USC, and Washington.

Season Conference Coach Conference Record Overall Record
1924 Pacific Coast Conference Pop Warner 3–0–1 7–1–1
1926 4–0 10–0–1
1927 4–0–1 8–2–1
1933 Claude E. Thornhill 4–1 8–2–1
1934 5–0 9–1–1
1935 4–1 8–1
1940 Clark Shaughnessy 7–0 10–0
1951 Chuck Taylor 6–1 9–2
1970 Pacific-8 Conference John Ralston 6–1 9–3
1971 6–1 9–3
1992 Pacific-10 Conference Bill Walsh 6–2 10–3
1999 Tyrone Willingham 7–1 8–4
2012 Pac-12 Conference David Shaw 8–1 12–2
2013 7–2 11–3
2015 8–1 12–2

† Co-championship

Division championships

Season Division Coach Opponent CG result
2011 Pac-12 – North David Shaw N/A lost tiebreaker to Oregon
2012 Pac-12 – North David Shaw UCLA W 27–24
2013 Pac-12 – North David Shaw Arizona State W 38–14
2015 Pac-12 – North David Shaw USC W 41–22
2017 Pac-12 – North David Shaw USC L 28–31

† Co-championship

Bowl games

Main article: List of Stanford Cardinal bowl games

Stanford has participated in 30 bowl games. The Cardinal have a 15–14–1 bowl record.[100]

Year Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1901 Charles Fickert Rose Bowl Michigan L 0–49
1924 Pop Warner Rose Bowl Notre Dame L 10–27
1926 Pop Warner Rose Bowl Alabama T 7–7
1927 Pop Warner Rose Bowl Pittsburgh W 7–6
1933 Claude E. Thornhill Rose Bowl Columbia L 0–7
1934 Claude E. Thornhill Rose Bowl Alabama L 13–29
1935 Claude E. Thornhill Rose Bowl SMU W 7–0
1940 Clark Shaughnessy Rose Bowl Nebraska W 21–13
1951 Chuck Taylor Rose Bowl Illinois L 7–40
1970 John Ralston Rose Bowl Ohio State W 27–17
1971 John Ralston Rose Bowl Michigan W 13–12
1977 Bill Walsh Sun Bowl LSU W 24–14
1978 Bill Walsh Bluebonnet Bowl Georgia W 25–22
1986 Jack Elway Gator Bowl Clemson L 21–27
1991 Dennis Green Aloha Bowl Georgia Tech L 17–18
1992 Bill Walsh Blockbuster Bowl Penn State W 24–3
1995 Tyrone Willingham Liberty Bowl East Carolina L 13–19
1996 Tyrone Willingham Sun Bowl Michigan State W 38–0
1999 Tyrone Willingham Rose Bowl Wisconsin L 9–17
2001 Tyrone Willingham Seattle Bowl Georgia Tech L 14–24
2009 Jim Harbaugh Sun Bowl Oklahoma L 27–31
2010 Jim Harbaugh Orange Bowl Virginia Tech W 40–12
2011 David Shaw Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma State L 38–41 OT
2012 David Shaw Rose Bowl Wisconsin W 20–14
2013 David Shaw Rose Bowl Michigan State L 20–24
2014 David Shaw Foster Farms Bowl Maryland W 45–21
2015 David Shaw Rose Bowl Iowa W 45–16
2016 David Shaw Sun Bowl North Carolina W 25–23
2017 David Shaw Alamo Bowl TCU L 37–39
2018 David Shaw Sun Bowl Pittsburgh W 14–13

Head coaches

Main article: List of Stanford Cardinal head football coaches

The following are Stanford's head coaches through the 2023 season.[101]

Coach Tenure Record Pct. Bowl record
No coach 1891 3–1–0 .750
Walter Camp 1892, 1894–1895 11–3–3 .735
C. D. Bliss 1893 8–0–1 .944
Harry P. Cross 1896, 1898 7–4–2 .615
George H. Brooke 1897 4–1–0 .800
Burr Chamberlain 1899 2–5–2 .333
Fielding H. Yost 1900 7–2–1 .750
Charles Fickert 1901 3–2–2 .571 0–1
Carl L. Clemans 1902 6–1–0 .857
James F. Lanagan 1903–1905 23–2–4 .862
Bob Evans 1919 4–3–0 .571
Walter D. Powell 1920 4–3–0 .571
Eugene Van Gent 1921 4–2–2 .625
Andrew Kerr 1922–1923 11–7–0 .611
Pop Warner 1924–1932 71–17–8 .781 1–1–1
Claude E. Thornhill 1933–1939 35–25–7 .575 1–2
Clark Shaughnessy 1940–1941 16–3–0 .842 1–0
Marchmont Schwartz 1942, 1946–1950 28–28–4 .500
Chuck Taylor 1951–1957 40–29–2 .577 0–1
Jack Curtice 1958–1962 14–36–0 .280
John Ralston 1963–1971 55–36–3 .601 2–0
Jack Christiansen 1972–1976 30–22–3 .573
Bill Walsh 1977–1978, 1992–1994 34–24–1 .585 3–0
Rod Dowhower 1979 5–5–1 .500
Paul Wiggin 1980–1983 16–28–0 .364
Jack Elway 1984–1988 25–29–2 .464 0–1
Dennis Green 1989–1991 16–18–0 .471 0–1
Tyrone Willingham 1995–2001 44–36–1 .549 1–3
Buddy Teevens 2002–2004 10–23 .303
Walt Harris 2005–2006 6–17 .261
Jim Harbaugh 2007–2010 29–21 .580 1–1
David Shaw 2011–2022 96–54 .640 5–3
Troy Taylor 2023–present 3–9 .250

Individual honors

See also: Stanford Cardinal football statistical leaders

Award winners

Stanford Cardinal playing the UCLA Bruins in the Rose Bowl Stadium
Christian McCaffrey – 2015
Jim Plunkett – 1970
Toby Gerhart – 2009
Bryce Love – 2017
Troy Walters – 1999
Jim Plunkett – 1970
Ty Montgomery – 2013
Christian McCaffrey – 2015
Andrew Luck – 2011
Elic Ayomanor – 2023
Jim Plunkett – 1970
Andrew Luck – 2011
Joshua Garnett – 2015
Owen Marecic – 2010
Christian McCaffrey – 2015
Dick Norman – 1959
Guy Benjamin – 1977
Steve Dils – 1978
John Elway – 1982
Jim Plunkett – 1970
Andrew Luck – 2011

Retired numbers

See also: List of NCAA football retired numbers

Stanford has retired the following numbers.[102]

No. Player Pos. Career
1 Ernie Nevers FB 1921–24
7 John Elway QB 1979–82
16 Jim Plunkett QB 1968–70

College Football Hall of Fame

The following Stanford players and coaches are members of the College Football Hall of Fame:[103]

Pro Football Hall of Famers

The following Stanford players are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame:[104]

Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame

The following Stanford players and coaches are members of the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame[105]



Main article: Big Game (American football)

Stanford's main rival is California (Cal). The rivalry between the two schools is one of the oldest in college football. The two teams play in the Big Game with the winner receiving the Stanford Axe. The most famous moment of the rivalry occurred in the 1982 Big Game, when Cal used a series of laterals to defeat Stanford 25–20 as time expired. Stanford leads the series 64–47–11.[106]


Main article: Stanford–USC football rivalry

Stanford maintains an active rivalry with USC. In 2007, an unranked Stanford team upset a No. 1 ranked USC team 24–23. Stanford was a 41-point underdog prior to the game, and many observers have called it the greatest upset in college football history. In 2009, Stanford defeated USC 55–21, resulting in a post-game verbal confrontation between Harbaugh and USC head coach Pete Carroll. In 2013, USC returned the favor by defeating No. 5 Stanford 20–17. In 2015, un-ranked Stanford went into L.A. and left with a 41–31 win over No. 6 USC, with Stanford QB Kevin Hogan playing the majority of the second half with a sprained ankle. USC leads the series 62–33–3.[106]

Notre Dame

Main article: Notre Dame-Stanford football rivalry

Notre Dame and Stanford have been rivals since 1925. The two teams have met every year since 1988, with the exception of 1995 and 1996. Notre Dame leads the series 23-14.[106]

San Jose State

Main article: Bill Walsh Legacy Game

Stanford and San Jose State have been rivals since 1900. These two institutions are separated by approximately 23 miles in the Silicon Valley. The rivalry was named after Bill Walsh, who was a SJSU alumnus and positively contributed to Stanford Cardinal football through head coaching, notably the win against No. 21 Penn State in the 1993 Blockbuster Bowl, which later became the Cheez-It Bowl. Stanford leads the series 52–14–1, where the vast majority of matches have been played at Stanford.[106]

Future opponents

Conference opponents

On October 30, 2023, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced the future schedules for SMU for the 2024 season to 2030.[107] The 17-team ACC will play an eight-game conference schedule with just one division, with four non-conference contests. All 17 teams will play each other at least twice in 7 years, once at home and once on the road. The new scheduling model gives Stanford two protected games to play each year with California (rivalry) and SMU and rotate the remaining 14 teams each year.[108]

Non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of November 1, 2023.[109]

No games are scheduled for the 2034 season.
2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032 2033 2034 2035
TCU at Hawaii Hawaii at TCU at Fresno State Fresno State Hawaii at BYU Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt at San Jose State
Cal Poly at San Jose State San Jose State Vanderbilt San Jose State
at Notre Dame


  1. ^ From 1905 to 1917, Stanford played rugby instead of football. In 1918, Stanford did not field an official team due to World War I, though an unofficial squad made up of volunteers from the Students' Army Training Corps stationed at Stanford (some of whom were not Stanford students) hurriedly organized to play several games, all blowout losses.
  2. ^ The Stanford Tree is the mascot of the Stanford Band.[2]
  3. ^ At the 1917 Rose Bowl, the University of Oregon defeated University of Pennsylvania 14 to 0. While at the 1920 Rose Bowl, Oregon lost to one of the recognized national champions, Harvard, by one point: 6 to 7. The next year, Andy Smith's University of California team beat an undefeated Ohio State 28 to 0, making California the widely agreed national champions of the 1920 season.[11]
  4. ^ Stanford was founded in 1887 and had fielded a football team every year since 1892, with the exception of 1906 to 1918, when football was dropped due concerns over the sport's increasing numbers of injuries and deaths. Along with other west coast schools the sport of rugby was played instead.[14]
  5. ^ In 1906, concerned with the growing levels of violence in football, both schools stopped playing American football and switched to rugby as their university's main sport. California switched back to football in 1915, with Stanford following in 1919.[14]
  6. ^ Jones won 1921 and 1922 Big Ten conference titles while heading the University of Iowa.[26][27]
  7. ^ Parke H. Davis selected the Lafayette Leopards, coached by Herb McCracken, Warner's former player at Pittsburgh, as national champion.[30]
  8. ^ During Warner's latter years at Stanford, USC became the undisputed leader of the west, winning multiple national championships.[37]


  1. ^ "Stanford Identity Toolkit: Color". Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "What is the history of Stanford's mascot and nickname?". Stanford University Athletics. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  3. ^ Hamilton, E.H. (December 1, 1899). "How the Gritty Athletes Fought Up and Down the Field". The San Francisco Examiner.
  4. ^ Leiser, William (November 24, 1929). "Cards Outdo Bears in All Kinds of Play But Passing". The San Francisco Examiner.
  5. ^ a b "Stanford vote favors "Robber Barons" tag". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. December 5, 1975. p. 17.
  6. ^ "Prince Lightfoot objects to name". Victoria Advocate. Texas. Associated Press. December 6, 1975. p. 2B.
  7. ^ "Season-by-Season Results". Stanford University Athletics. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  8. ^ "Record vs. Opponents". Stanford University Athletics. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  9. ^ According to the Stanford Football media guide, the all-time series records against the rest of the Pac-12 North are: California, 64–47–11; Oregon, 49–33–1; Oregon State 58–25–3; Washington State 40–29–1.
  10. ^ Groke, Nick (December 12, 2015). "Derrick Henry wins Heisman Trophy, Christian McCaffrey finishes second". The Denver Post. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  11. ^ "1920 National Championships". Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  12. ^ Powers 1969, p. 48.
  13. ^ Miller 2015, p. 135.
  14. ^ a b "From Football to Rugby—and Back, 1906–1919: The University of California-Stanford University Response to the "Football Crisis of 1905"" (PDF). Journal of Sport History. 11 (3 (Winter 1984)): 23 & 28.
  15. ^ Pope 1956, p. 299.
  16. ^ a b Powers 1969, p. 55.
  17. ^ Powers 1969, p. 57.
  18. ^ a b Powers 1969, p. 50.
  19. ^ Danzig 1956, p. 221.
  20. ^ Danzig 1956, p. 224.
  21. ^ Powers 1969, pp. 58, 59.
  22. ^ Nelson 1994, p. 156.
  23. ^ "Bowl Game Recaps" (PDF). p. 129. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  24. ^ Powers 1969, p. 61.
  25. ^ a b Powers 1969, p. 62.
  26. ^ "Gridiron Glory 100+ Years of Iowa Football 1921". Archived from the original on June 26, 2016.
  27. ^ "Gridiron Glory 100+ Years of Iowa Football 1922". Archived from the original on June 26, 2016.
  28. ^ a b Powers 1969, p. 63.
  29. ^ "Recognized National Championships by Year". Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  30. ^ National Collegiate Athletic Association 2015, p. 108.
  31. ^ a b Powers 1969, p. 65.
  32. ^ Powers 1969, p. 66.
  33. ^ "Rose Bowl 1928". Archived from the original on July 18, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  34. ^ Powers 1969, p. 67.
  35. ^ a b Powers 1969, p. 68.
  36. ^ "Bruin Frosh Invade Farm Tomorrow". The Stanford Daily. October 25, 1929. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  37. ^ a b Powers 1969, p. 70.
  38. ^ Pope 1956, p. 300.
  39. ^ a b c "Tradition: Great Moments in the First Fifty Years of Cardinal Football". The Stanford Review. Vol. XXXVII, no. 8. December 1, 2006. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007 – via Wayback Machine.
  40. ^ a b "Bob "Bones" Hamilton (1972)". Retrieved July 21, 2023.
  41. ^ "Stanford Vow Team Arrives". Anaheim Bulletin. AP. November 8, 1935. p. 8. Retrieved July 22, 2023 – via
  42. ^ "Bobby Grayson (1955)". Retrieved July 22, 2023.
  43. ^ "James "Monk" Moscrip (1985)". Retrieved July 22, 2023.
  44. ^ "Bob Reynolds (1961)". Retrieved July 22, 2023.
  45. ^ "Stanford mourns loss of David Packard" (Press release). Stanford University News Service. March 26, 1996. Archived from the original on April 8, 2015 – via
  46. ^ "Bill Corbus (1957)". Retrieved July 22, 2023.
  47. ^ Kiefer, David (September 24, 2019). "Stanford 125: The 1940s". Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  48. ^ "Clark Shaughnessy (1968)". Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  49. ^ Paige, Woody (3 February 2016). "Paige: Why John Ralston must be remembered in Broncos history". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  50. ^ "Stanford Job To Assistant Christiansen". The Des Moines Register. January 22, 1972. p. 19 – via Open access icon
  51. ^ "Stanford Fires J. Christiansen". The Terre Haute (IN) Tribune. November 20, 1976. p. 8 – via Open access icon
  52. ^ "Jack Christiansen Coaching Record". College Football at Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  53. ^ "Bill Walsh dies at 75; led 49ers to three Super Bowl titles". ESPN. 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  54. ^ "Rod Dowhower". 12 December 2010.
  55. ^ "Ron Dowhower Coaching Record". College Football at
  56. ^ "Stanford to retire John Elway's No. 7 jersey". Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  57. ^ "Paul Wiggin Shown Door At Stanford". Washington Post. 12 November 1983.
  58. ^ a b "Jack Elway Dies at Age 69 / John Elway's dad coached Stanford, San Jose State". 17 April 2001.
  59. ^ "Jack Elway Coaching Record". College Football at
  60. ^ "1986 Stanford Cardinal Schedule and Results". College Football at
  61. ^ "Dennis Green Coaching Record". College Football at
  62. ^ "1991 Stanford Cardinal Schedule and Results". College Football at
  63. ^ Mather, Victor (22 July 2016). "Dennis Green, Pioneering Coach of the Vikings and the Cardinals, Dies at 67". The New York Times.
  64. ^ "Coaching legend Bill Walsh dies at 75". 31 July 2007.
  65. ^ Crouse, Karen (1 November 2012). "With Football in Past, Tyrone Willingham Is at Peace". The New York Times.
  66. ^ "Tyrone Willingham Coaching Record". College Football at
  67. ^ "Tyrone Willingham Presented Eddie Robinson Coach of Distinction Award". Stanford University Football. Stanford University. November 30, 2000. Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. Retrieved 2010-08-17.
  68. ^ "Willingham gets six-year deal to coach Notre Dame". ESPN College Football. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  69. ^ a b "Buddy Teevens Bio". Dartmouth Varsity Sports.
  70. ^ a b "Eugene "Buddy" Teevens All-Time Coaching Records by Opponent". College Football Data Warehouse.
  71. ^ "Stanford Ends Buddy Teevens' Tenure as Head Football Coach". Stanford University Athletics. November 29, 2004. Archived from the original on March 18, 2012.
  72. ^ "Coach won 10 games in three losing camapigns". Associated Press. November 29, 2004.
  73. ^ Maisel, Ivan (2006-12-06). "Harris out as Cardinal coach following 1–11 season". ESPN. Stanford, California. Associated Press.
  74. ^ "Stanford vs. UCLA Play-By-Play".
  75. ^ "Stanford 2009 Football Media Guide". Stanford University. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19.
  76. ^ "Harbaugh takes over program that went 1–11". ESPN. 2006-12-19. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  77. ^ "Stanford to Introduce Jim Harbaugh as Head Football Coach" (Press release). Stanford University. December 18, 2006. Archived from the original on January 4, 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
  78. ^ Miller, Ted (April 7, 2007). "Spring look around the Pac-10". ESPN. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  79. ^ Peters, Ken (July 26, 2007). "Trojans top preseason poll for fifth straight year". ESPN. Associated Press."
  80. ^ Forde, Pat (July 27, 2007). "Harbaugh declaration delivers Pac-10 jolt". ESPN. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  81. ^ Jake Curtis (October 7, 2007). "Upset for the Ages; Stanford Stunner: The Cardinal, 41-point underdogs, pull off an inconceivable win over No. 2-ranked USC". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007.
  82. ^ Mark Schlabach (November 16, 2009). "Strong personalities leading teams down the stretch". ESPN.
  83. ^ Klein, Gary (November 14, 2009). "USC's November reign ends with shocking 55–21 loss to Stanford". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
  84. ^ Bonjour, Douglas (2009-01-14). "Rumor Roundup: Coaching Search Winding Down". Archived from the original on 2009-03-20. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
  85. ^ Evans, Simon (2009-01-19). "Jets appoint Rex Ryan as new head coach". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
  86. ^ "Jim Harbaugh staying at Stanford through 2014". Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 18, 2009. Also published on as "Harbaugh, Stanford have 3-year deal".
  87. ^ "Stanford Post-Game Notes vs. Virginia Tech, January 3, 2011". CBS Interactive. 2011-01-03. Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  88. ^ "Luck second in Heisman voting, again". 10 December 2011.
  89. ^ Schefter, Adam (2011-01-07). "Sources: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers agree to 5-year deal". ESPN. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  90. ^ "Stanford promotes O-coordinator Shaw to coach". 13 January 2011.
  91. ^ "Wisconsin vs. Stanford – Game Recap – January 1, 2013".
  92. ^ "David Shaw – Football Coach".
  93. ^ "David Shaw Steps Down as Stanford Head Football Coach". Stanford Cardinal. November 27, 2022.
  94. ^ Gutmann, Harold (2023-11-26). "Stanford football: Wreckage behind, Stanford looks ahead to ACC". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2023-11-26.
  95. ^ Christopher J. Walsh (2007). Who's #1?: 100-Plus Years of Controversial National Champions in College Football. Taylor Trade Pub. pp. 89–91. ISBN 978-1-58979-337-8.
  96. ^ 2018 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. August 2018. pp. 111–112. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  97. ^ "Stanford Football History". Stanford University Department of Athletics. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  98. ^ Poling, Richard R. (1941). "Top Teams of 1940". The 1940 Supplement of the Football Review. Mansfield, Ohio: Poling's Football Ratings. We predicted that STANFORD would beat NEBRASKA by from seven to ten points, and this game came home to us right – final score STANFORD 21 NEBRASKA 13. This game bore us out and thus made STANFORD NATIONAL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS OF 1940. [...] No. 1 Stanford 45.06, No. 2 Minnesota 43.13, No 3. Boston College 43.0
  99. ^ Williamson, Paul B. (January 7, 1941). "Williamson Votes National Title to Stanford". Nasheville Banner. Retrieved January 3, 2023.
  100. ^ "Bowl History". Stanford University. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  101. ^ "Coaching History". Stanford University. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  102. ^ "Stanford set to retire John Elway's No. 7 jersey". The Associated Press. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  103. ^ "Hall of Fame: Select group by school". College Football Hall of Fame. Football Foundation. Retrieved 2007-05-20.
  104. ^ "Colleges: Pro Football Hall of Fame". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2007-05-12. Retrieved 2007-05-20.
  105. ^ "HALL OF FAME ALL-TIME RECIPIENTS". Stanford Department of Athletics. Retrieved 2017-09-26.
  106. ^ a b c d "Record vs. Opponents". Stanford University. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  107. ^ Adelson, Andrea (2023-10-30). "ACC unveils 7-year football slate for new 17-team league". ESPN. Retrieved 2023-11-01.
  108. ^ Wilner, Jon (2023-10-30). "Future arrives for Cal and Stanford as ACC releases the 2024-30 football schedule rotation". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2023-11-01.
  109. ^ "Stanford Cardinal Football Future Schedules". Retrieved November 1, 2023.