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NCAAF Stanford Cardinal

General Information

  • NCAA Division: Division I
  • Conference: Pac-12
  • City: Stanford, California
  • Stadium: Stanford Stadium


  • National Championships: 2
  • Conference Titles:15
  • Division Titles: 5
  • Bowl Record- 15-14-1

Past Conferences

  • Independent (1891-1905)
  • PCC( 1919-1942, 1946-1958)

Stanford Cardinal Football History

The Stanford Cardinals’ inaugural season took place in 1891 under head coach Walter Camp. They joined the Pacific Coast Conference and Pop Warner became head coach in 1924. Warner coached the Cardinals for nine seasons. The Cardinals finished with a winning record in each season under Warner. They made three Rose Bowls. Warner led the Cardinals to a 10-0-1 record and was crowned National Champions. Warner finished his career at Stanford with a 71-17-8 overall record.

Tiny Thornhill was named head coach in 1933. He led the Cardinals to a 25-4-2 overall record through his first three seasons including three straight Rowl Bowls. Over the next four seasons, they posted a 10-21-1 record. He was fired after the 1939 season.

In 1940, Clark Shaughnessy was hired. He led the Cardinals to an undefeated record and led to a Rose Bowl win over Nebraska. The Cardinals were crowned national champions. In 1941, they finished 6-3.

Marchmont Schwartz coached the Cardinals from 1942-1950 (no team in 1943, 1944 and 1945 due to World War II). He led the Cardinals to three winning seasons during his five-year stint. Their best season came in 1949. They finished with a 7-3-1 record and won a Pineapple Bowl.

Chuck Taylor was at the helm from 1951-1957. The Cardinals finished with a 9-2 record and won the PCC in his first season at the helm. The Cardinals were average for the rest of his time at the helm. He finished his career with a 40–29–2 overall record at Stanford.

John Ralston coached the Cardinals from 1963-1971. During his tenure, he led the Cardinals to five winning seasons. 1970 and 1971 were almost identical seasons. In 1970 the Cardinals finished 9-3, won the Pac-8 and beat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. In 1971, they finished 9-3, won the Pac-8 and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. He departed Stanford to coach the Denver Broncos. He left with a 55-36-3 overall record.

Legendary coach Bill Walsh coached the Cardinals in 1977 and 1978. Walsh coached the Cardinals to a 17-7
combined record. They earned bowl games in each season and won both. Walsh was named Pac-8 coach of the year in 1977. After the 1978 season, he went on to coach the San Francisco 49ers.

The Cardinals would enjoy just two winning seasons over the next 12 seasons.

Bill Walsh returned to coach the Cardinals in 1992. He led them to a 10-3 record and a Pac-10 co-conference championship. Additionally, they were ranked as high as 9th in the AP Poll. Unfortunately, the next two seasons resulted in losing seasons and Walsh retired.

Tyrone Willingham coached the Cardinals from 1995-2001. He led the Cardinals to four winning seasons during his seven-year stint. The Cardinals finished with seven wins in both 1995 and 1996 and earned a trip to consecutive bowl games. In 1995, they lost 19-13 to East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl. In 1996, they blew Michigan State out 38-0 in the Sun Bowl. After two middling seasons, the Cardinals finished 8-4 in 1999. Additionally, they finished 7-1 in conference play and won the Pac-10. They lost the Rose Bowl to Wisconsin. The Cardinals went 9-3 in Willingham’s final season before departing for Notre Dame.

After five underwhelming seasons with Buddy Teevens and Walt Harris at the helm, and Cardinals hired Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh’s first two seasons and last two seasons were opposites. He led the Cardinals to a 9-15 combined record in his first two seasons. However, he led the Cardinals to a strong 8-5 record in 2009 behind Heisman Trophy candidate running back Toby Gerhart. They went on to lose the Sun Bowl in a close game to Oklahoma. In 2010, the Cardinals had perhaps their best season in program history. They finished 11-1 behind Heisman candidate quarterback Andrew Luck. The Cardinals were ranked as high as 4th throughout the season. They went on to eBay Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl. Harbaugh finished his career at Stanford with a 29-21 overall record.

David Shaw coached the Cardinals from 2011-2022. The Cardinals finished with winning records in each of Shaw’s first eight seasons at the helm.
Shaw and Luck led the Cardinals to an 11-2 record in 2011. They lost to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. Luck entered the 2012 NFL draft and was drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts. The Cardinals went on to win the Pac-12 in both 2012 and 2013 behind quarterback Kevin Hogan. They also appeared in the Rose Bowl in both seasons. The Cardinals went on a three-year bowl win streak from 2014-2016. Free Cardinals fell off from 2019-2022. He resigned after the 2022 season.

Troy Taylor was named head coach.

All Time Records

Passing Yards

  • Steve Stenstrom: 10,911
  • Andrew Luck: 9,430
  • Kevin Hogan: 9,385
  • John Elway: 9,349
  • Jim Plunkett: 7,809

Rushing Yards

  • Stepfan Taylor: 4,300
  • Darrin Nelson: 4,169
  • Christian McCaffrey: 3,922
  • Bryce Love: 3,865
  • Toby Gerhart: 3,522

Receiving Yards

  • Troy Walters: 4,047
  • DeRonnie Pitts: 3,023
  • Ken Margerum: 2,517
  • Justin Armour: 2,491
  • Darrin Nelson: 2,469

What is the highest win total in program history?

The Stanford Cardinals have won twelve games in two different seasons. The 2010 Cardinals finished with a 12-1 record under head coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Andrew Luck. The 2012 and 2015 Cardinal teams both finished with 12-2 overall records under head coach David Shaw.

What was the worst season in program history?

The 2006 Cardinals finished with a 1-11 overall record under head coach Walt Harris. It was their first time finishing with just one win since 1983 and just their third time finishing with one win in school history.

How many bowl games have the Cardinals appeared in?

The Stanford Cardinals have appeared in 30 total bowl games and currently have a 15-14-1 bowl record.
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