So what’s the deal with Stanford?
In a college climate driven by TV, what becomes of the nation's most successful athletic department, one that also happens to top every FBS academic ranking?
Troy Taylor was standing in a Sin City hallway less than three weeks ago talking about his recruiting pitch for Stanford, the most selective FBS school around. He was attending his first Pac-12 media day, a one-day event at Resorts World — a luxury hotel where commissioner George Kliavkoff kicked off the day with a news conference hours earlier inside Zouk Nightclub, a space that will host a Tiesto concert next week that is commanding a $12,500 minimum per table.
Things were good, if not glamorous. Stanford football had fallen on hard times in recent years, yes, but here came a charismatic new coach with deep roots in the conference, a man with a plan for restoring glory to a Cardinal program that had spent much of the previous decade atop the Pac-12.
“The great thing is we do have a national appeal and a national brand so that when we go to the East Coast and we walk into a school and a living room, people go, ‘Stanford’s here,’ so it's a big deal in terms of national recruiting,” Taylor told The Inside Zone. “I love that.”
Is it still a big deal in national recruiting circles? That will be put to the ultimate test in the immediate future, as Stanford is now one of just four remaining schools in the same conference that Taylor had represented with 11 other schools back in Las Vegas last month.
For all intents and purposes, Taylor’s first Pac-12 media day may have been the last Pac-12 media day ever.
College sports is run by television networks, a reality that can no longer be ignored. It’s why the power structure was flipped on its head on Friday, with six different Pac-12 schools leaving the self-proclaimed conference of champions for more security (Big 12) and more money (Big Ten) elsewhere.
If you’re a school like Stanford, though, where do you fit in amid this current landscape?
The Cardinal won the Learfield Directors’ Cup this past summer. For the uninitiated, the Directors’ Cup is given annually to the nation’s most successful college athletics program.
Stanford has won the Cup 26 times.
The Cup has existed for 29 years.