STANFORD, Calif. (AP)Stanford hired Sacramento State coach Troy Taylor on Saturday to replace David Shaw and lead a Pac-12 program that has fallen off dramatically recently, with three losing seasons in the last four years.

Taylor, 54, has spent the last four seasons as head coach at Sacramento State, leading the Hornets to the FCS playoffs three times. Sacramento State did not field a team during 2020 because of the pandemic.

Sacramento State went 30-8 with a 23-1 record in a tough Big Sky Conference under Taylor. The Hornets lost a wild quarterfinal playoff game Friday night, 66-63 against Incarnate Word.

”The opportunity to lead the finest student-athletes in the country is truly a dream come true, and I would like to thank President (Marc) Tessier-Lavigne, Provost (Persis) Drell and (athletic director) Bernard Muir,” Taylor said in a statement. ”I believe that Stanford football is perfectly positioned to become champions on the football field while maintaining our world-class reputation for academic excellence.”

Shaw stepped down last month after 12 seasons following the final game of a 3-9 season. The winningest coach in school history was struggling to change the trajectory of a program that was the predominant team in the Pac-12 during the first half of his tenure.

Stanford’s downfall coincides the loosening of transfer rules across major college football. The elite academic school is not able to add to its roster through transfers as easily as most of its competition in the Pac-12 and nationally.

Taylor, a native Californian, played quarterback for Stanford’s rival, Cal, and had a short NFL career in the early 1990s before getting into coaching at the high school and college levels.

”Troy is a proven winner who has experienced success at many levels of football,” Muir said in a statement. ”Throughout our visits together he demonstrated an understanding of what makes Stanford special, and a deep desire to capitalize on our unique strengths. He possesses an incredible football mind and has a long history of caring deeply for the student-athletes he leads.”

Taylor was offensive coordinator at Utah in 2017-18 before landing his first head coaching job at Sacramento State in 2019.

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