David Shaw: 'You have to have another hobby outside of football'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday January 09, 2017

David Shaw doesn’t want players who live and die by the game of football.

Shaw joined The MMQB’s podcast recently and was asked about coaching Andrew Luck. The quarterback obviously had all the talent in the world and showed up in a position to succeed, but Shaw pointed to his ability to get away from the game. He was able to be a regular guy on campus, as Shaw put it, and that made focusing on football easier when it was time.

The coach recalled a conversation with Luck while walking to a practice.

“I said, ‘Tell me about soccer.’ He talked my ear off the rest of the walk,” Shaw said. “The best teams, the worst teams, the best players, the best players’ signature moves, who you only have to worry about their right foot, all those things. I just laughed and said, ‘Stop. I get it. You love soccer.’

“Some people see it as a negative, because you’re not this football player that lives, eats and breathes football. You’ve gotta have something else to make football special in your life. You have to have another hobby, something you’re interested in. Something else that, so when you get into football, you give it your all. But you also take a break mentally, something you’re interested in.”

Shaw said Luck has tried to continue that in the NFL.

“Andrew was a well-rounded person,” Shaw said. “He’s got a book club and all types of stuff going on. Now, when it’s time for football, there’s nothing else in the world, this guy is focused and as good as anybody who’s ever played. But when he’s away from football, he’s a guy. He’s a regular person. He wants to watch soccer, go hang with his friends, go to restaurants and be a normal person.

“He doesn’t strive to be ‘Andrew Luck, The Colts Quarterback' 24/7 and run around signing autographs and doing promos. That’s not the Andrew Luck he wants to be 24/7.

Stanford uses its academic standards in recruiting to push the idea of the whole student-athlete, but Shaw points to the other aspects of the college experience. He says too many programs steer kids to easy majors just to get through school, and it leads them to only focus on football. 

“What gets missed is the formative years of college that we all grow through, good things, bad things, in the dorms,” Shaw said. “There’s a feeling at a lot of places to pull guys out of that, make them into these creatures that we go watch on gameday, but we forget they’re between 17 and 22 years old. Being a college kid, a lot of growth happens there. Some of that needs to be intellectual growth.

Some of these guys don’t take real majors at other places. They’re just trying to get through school so they can be superstars in the NFL. You miss something. When you talk to Andrew Luck, you see he didn’t miss that. He enjoyed that.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.

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