SCM: When Shaw arrived as the Broncos line coach in 1929, he’d led college teams in Nevada and North Carolina. How did he learn to become such an effective player’s coach?
KC: Growing up in the Midwest on a farm, he had certain values, a work ethic, and he was humble. I think playing at Notre Dame for Knute Rockne had a tremendous influence on him because Rockne was a great motivator. He had a way of making his players feel good about themselves, and I think Shaw learned that from Rockne, when to push players and when to take the foot off the pedal. Shaw hadn’t had an abundance of talent, so he really had to develop players, and I think he learned that he could really relate well to young men. By the time he took the reins as the Broncos head coach in 1936, he’d built teams that went on to win the 1937 and 1938 Sugar Bowls, both against Louisiana State.
SCM: College football, especially during the 1920s into the ’50s, captivated local Bay Area sports fans. Ironically, the arrival of a pro football team began an exodus from college games. What happened?
KC: In many ways, pro football was a death knell for a lot of the small, independent colleges playing football on the West Coast. Santa Clara, and of course St. Mary’s, USF, and Gonzaga—all of these schools had really strong rivalries going but they just couldn’t keep up with the 49ers cutting into some of their attendance. People who weren’t alumni and didn’t have connections with the schools seemed to bond with the 49ers, and that hurt college attendance.