If you scan the history of college football, you could list the first-year head coaches who have won more than 11 games on one hand.
If coach David Shaw's Stanford team beats Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, you'll need the other thumb.
When Shaw took over for Jim Harbaugh this year, he inherited 12 returning starters, including the incomparable Andrew Luck. So the pressure was on Shaw. Then he and his staff had to weather the loss of leading tackler Shayne Skov from game three on and key offensive threats Chris Owusu and Zach Ertz for the most crucial games of the season. Plus, Stanford essentially went the entire season without a deep receiving threat.
Still, Shaw got the Cardinal (11-1) to a BCS bowl game and the No. 4 BCS ranking. If he wins the bowl game, he will join a select list of rookie coaches who reached the 12-win mark: Penn's George Woodruff (15-1 in 1892), Yale's Walter Camp (13-0 in 1888), Boise State's Chris Peterson (13-0 in 2006), Miami's Larry Coker (12-0 in 2001) and Wisconsin's Bret Bielema (12-1 in 2006). (From the early 1930s to 1969, teams played just 10 regular-season games, so even with a bowl game they couldn't get to 12 wins.)