I'll take you back to the end of the 2009 season, Toby Gerhart, Stanford's All-American running back graduates after leading the team to its first Bowl game and winning season since 1999. Everyone thought that Stanford would be a firework and go back to its predictable losing seasons. The star player went away and no other player looked set to be the next leader of the team.
Up stepped Andrew Luck, the Quarterback in his second year, who had an explosive 2010 season finishing second in the prestigious Heisman Trophy award and helping Stanford to its first 12 win season after winning the Orange Bowl. Yet again the critics said Stanford would flicker away after the coach Jim Haubaugh accepted a position in the NFL as a Head Coach, but 2011 saw Stanford not flicker, but excel yet again.
Under new Head Coach David Shaw, and Andrew Luck in his final year, Stanford had an 11 win season and came within a missed field goal of back to back bowl wins at the Fiesta Bowl. 2012 was meant to be the end of Stanford's unlikely rise to prominence but it turned out better than the last three combined.
With Andrew Luck graduating, a new quarterback was chosen to lead the team. Josh Nunes stepped up, but after a decent start, defeating the #1 ranked Southern California team, and a dubious referee call at Notre Dame (who ended up in the National Final) that resulted in a loss along with a pitiful loss to lowly Washington State, Josh was replaced with Kevin Hogan.
Kevin proved to be the spark that Stanford needed, leading them to a 5 game win streak that included the defeat of arch nemesis Oregon, at their home stadium, in overtime. Did I mention that Oregon averaged 56 points per game but against Stanford scored only 14? With that win Stanford went on to claim the conference title and play in the greatest bowl game in college football – the Rose Bowl.
The Rose Bowl is full of tradition being played annually on New Year's Day. Stanford played Wisconsin in a match-up that was "big on defence", and Stanford hung on to win 20-14 and win the Rose Bowl - to finish the spectacular 2012 season.
Stanford reminds me of a favourite Bible verse of mine:
1 Corinthians 9:24 – Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win
This illustrated once again to me, that no matter the circumstance, whether it be a loss of a player, coach or a change in position, Stanford preserved and 'ran' in such a way that they could win.
Christopher Archibald lives in Sydney and is an under-graduate student.
Christopher Archibald's previous articles may be viewed at: www.pressserviceinternational.org/christopher-archibald.html