Derek Mason is no longer the defensive coordinator for the Stanford Cardinal. Instead, he is now considered the Willie Shaw Director of Defense.
According to Go Stanford, the position has been endowed as a gift from an anonymous donor in honor of Willie Shaw, who is a former Stanford defensive assistant and the father of current head coach David Shaw:
"The honor of this endowed position is all about these kids, this staff and this program, with what we have achieved, worked toward and aspired to become: one of the best defensive units in the country," said Mason. "What our defense has been able to accomplish has been nothing short of a blessing. People are now starting to take notice that Stanford's brand means playing physical, unrelenting football on both sides of the ball."
This isn't the first time this has been done. Earlier this season, the offensive coordinator position was named after the legendary Andrew Luck. There is nothing like paying tribute to the guys that helped put this football program on the map.
Mason has been an assistant coach on the Stanford staff since 2010, taking over the duties as defensive coordinator in 2011. Since being the man in charge, the Stanford defense has made huge strides over the years, including finishing second in the Pac-12 last year and 20th in the entire country in total defense.
A physical and feisty bunch, Mason has helped take this unit to another level, which has played a big role in the Cardinal reaching three consecutive BCS bowls.
Receiving this honor is special to Mason, who has worked closely over the years with the older Shaw and has picked up many things along the way:
"The honor of being the Willie Shaw Director of Defense has special meaning to me because of how he has believed in and empowered me through a relationship of nearly two decades," said Mason. "Coach Shaw has profoundly helped foster my growth and understanding in what it takes to lead young men with lessons that extend to and far beyond the field of play. In the last two years, Coach Shaw has spent countless hours walking me through 40-plus years of experience and accelerated my development and leadership which has, in turn, translated into the everyday exhaustive progress and growth of our young men."
Shaw coached the Stanford defensive backs and linebackers from 1974 to 1976. He returned in 1989 to work with the secondary and later became the defensive coordinator, which is a position he held until 1991.
He is most known for the job he did in 1990, when he turned around one of the worst defenses in the span of one season. Shaw spent time coaching 14 different teams in his career, including various NFL franchises, but the time he spent with Stanford is what he remembers most over the years:
"It is hard to find the words to express how much I appreciate the Stanford experience which has changed my life and my family's life for nearly 40 years now," said the elder Shaw. "To be connected with Stanford Football into perpetuity like this is unbelievable. All of my associations and my family's associations with Stanford have made us complete and blessed."
This is a day to celebrate Stanford football. And if the head coach can continue to doing the job he has done in his first two seasons, something tells me another honor will be handed to the Shaw family later down the road.