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Walsh to step down as Stanford head football coach

STANFORD -- Bill Walsh held a news conference Monday, Nov. 28, to announce something that had been the subject of widespread speculation for weeks - that he was stepping down as head coach of the Cardinal football team.

"I felt this was an appropriate time to move to another phase of my life," Walsh told more than 100 reporters, photographers and others at the Arrillaga Family Sports Center. "I thoroughly enjoyed the past three years."

Walsh will remain with Stanford as an assistant to the director of athletics for special projects.

In his second tour of duty as head coach at Stanford, Walsh compiled a 17-17-1 record; this season, the Cardinal went 3-7-1, ending with a one-point loss to California in the Big Game. It was the third one- point loss in a season noteworthy for prolific offense but little else.

"I had hoped to do better this year, that's quite evident," Walsh said. "Any coach would. I would prefer to have had a better year - we didn't. [But] that's not the crux of the matter.

"I know this," Walsh said. "I never worked harder than I have here as far as being a coach. We have, I think, rebuilt the program; this is a very talented young group and [is] a team that I think is destined to be very successful."

Athletic Director Ted Leland said a nationwide search for a successor would begin immediately, and that the existing corps of assistant coaches would be retained at least until a new head coach is named. The assistants, he said, would "hit the road" immediately to begin recruiting the next class of freshmen.

Leland admitted that Walsh's resignation would complicate the recruiting process in a year when Stanford has a large number of scholarships to offer, about 25.

"We're going to have to work hard and move quickly," Leland said.

A possible internal candidate for the head coaching position is Terry Shea, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. When Walsh was hired in January 1992, he lured Shea to Stanford from San Jose State University, where Shea had been head coach.

Leland said there was no "deal" guaranteeing Shea the job after Walsh, but said, "We expect him to be a candidate, and if he is a candidate, he'll be a strong one."

Resignation a 'natural' decision

Walsh, who turns 63 on Nov. 30, said his health was not a factor in deciding to step down.

"I've never felt better," he said. "Maybe it's that crest - just before you fall off," he joked.

"I love the game of football," Walsh said. "It's been my entire life. I've thrived on it and thoroughly enjoyed it. But the job of head coach is an exhausting job. It's for, at this stage of my life, another person to do. I think it's quite natural" to retire, he said.

"I mentioned in assuming this position that [returning to Stanford] would be my bliss," Walsh said. "And it is, maybe more to that extent now than before. Now, I can effectively interact with faculty at graduate and undergraduate levels and with students themselves without the trappings of the head coaching position and the formality of it."

In his new role, Walsh said, he would be the "lowest- paid person on the staff."

But, he said, "The head coach's salary and the trappings that go with it aren't that important" to him anymore.

Leland said that as assistant to the director, Walsh would be closely involved with fundraising, particularly in wrapping up the athletic department's Campaign 2000 development drive. The campaign, which ends next winter, is about $10 million short of its $60 million goal.

Also, Walsh will work on a coaching development program, both for coaches from Stanford and outside, and the establishment of a Stanford Sports Institute, to centralize teaching and research on athletics and sports medicine.

"A lot of our team physicians, Stanford Health Services and Dr. Rick Schavone in our department have been working on this project for some time," Leland said. "Bill is uniquely qualified to play a role" in the new venture.

In addition, Walsh said he hoped to strengthen links between the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation and academic departments on campus. He already is working on a conference on sports and society to be sponsored jointly with the Department of Comparative Literature. The conference is scheduled for May 11-13, 1995.

Walsh said it was unlikely that he would ever seek a head coaching position again.

Groomed quarterbacks, other coaches

Walsh's first year in his second tenure at Stanford was his most successful. Taking over a squad built largely by his protégé Denny Green, Walsh led the Cardinal to a 10-3 record in 1992. The season ended with a convincing 24-3 win over national powerhouse Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl on New Year's Day.

The following year Stanford stumbled to a 4-7 mark, and this season dropped to 3-7-1.

However, as Leland noted, in the second Walsh era, Stanford once again became recognized as a "national factor" in college football, and television revenues doubled. Also, he said, Walsh played a key role in securing a regular game-scheduling agreement with Notre Dame that runs though the year 2008.

The future of that historic rivalry had been in doubt three years ago, Leland said.

In Walsh's previous stint as head coach, 1977-78, the Cardinal had a 17-7 record and won two bowl games, the Sun Bowl in 1977 and the Bluebonnet Bowl in 1978. (For all five years at Stanford, Walsh's record stands at 34-24-1.)

After that, Walsh went on to become head coach of the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL. He took an inept team and within three years led it to its first Super Bowl victory.

Walsh guided the Niners to three Super Bowls and presided over what became known as "the team of the 1980s." His record with the 49ers was 102-63-1. Walsh is among 14 coaches to have been elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Walsh had been an assistant coach at Stanford from 1963 to 1965 before going to work for a number of NFL teams as assistant coach.

In both the NFL and in college, Walsh built a reputation for offensive innovation. He is particularly known for his work developing quarterbacks, including Kenny Anderson, Dan Fouts, Joe Montana and, most recently, Stanford's Steve Stenstrom.

A number of former assistant coaches for Walsh have gone on to head coaching positions. They include Green, who went from Stanford to the Minnesota Vikings, George Seifert of the San Francisco 49ers (who in his first year succeeding Walsh won the team's fourth Super Bowl), Mike Holmgren of the Green Bay Packers and Sam Wyche of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After retiring from pro coaching, Walsh spent three years as an analyst for NBC Sports before returning to the Farm. He said he has no plans to return to the broadcast booth. He did say that, in addition to his new duties in the athletic department, he would be playing a lot of golf and tennis.

In a joint statement, Stanford President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoleezza Rice said they were "grateful to Bill for his outstanding service to the university and delighted that he will be staying at Stanford and contributing in valuable ways off the field."


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