Stanford eyeing Sac State’s Troy Taylor and Jason Garrett as finalists for coaching job

Xavier Mascareñas/xmascarenas@sacbee.com

Multiple national reports have identified Sacramento State coach Troy Taylor and former Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett as finalists for the Stanford football post that was vacated when David Shaw resigned last month.

Taylor is a well-known name in Northern California. He earned his third Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year award this season in addition to being named AFCA Region 5 FCS Coach of the Year this week. Taylor has led the Hornets to a 12-0 record and the No. 2 national FCS ranking heading into Friday night’s quarterfinal playoff game against Incarnate Word of San Antonio.

Taylor, 54, was The Sacramento Bee’s Player of the Year in 1985 when he quarterbacked Cordova High School to a 14-0 record. He set a number of career passing marks and was named team MVP three times at Cal from 1986-89. Cal, of course, is Stanford’s chief rival. Would the Cardinal hire a Golden Bear?

Taylor visited the Stanford campus earlier this week. He has led Sacramento State to a 30-7 record after taking over a program in steep decline, fostering an environment of love and commitment with a continuous theme that players are to have these priorities in order: to graduate and to play fun football.

Garrett, 56, has never coached college football. The Princeton graduate and longtime Cowboys backup quarterback was on the NBC television broadcast as an analyst when Stanford upset Notre Dame in October, but otherwise he has no real ties to Stanford or much of any college football. Garrett led the Cowboys to an 85-67 record from 2011-19, winning three NFC East championships. He was fired following the 2019 season and was the New York Giants’ offensive coordinator for two seasons before joining NBC.

Taylor told The Sacramento Bee recently he has “no intention of leaving here.”

“I’m having a great time,” Taylor said. “I love where we live. I love our football program, love our players, our coaches.”

However, Taylor added, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m really happy here.”

The Stanford job will be a monumental challenge for any coach. The Cardinal went 96-54 in 12 years under Shaw, who stepped down last month after a second consecutive 3-9 season. Stanford’s academic requirements make entry into the school a hurdle, and it is a program that has not been big on the NCAA transfer portal in terms of landing players.

The Stanford job would, of course, mean a significant boost in salary if Taylor is offered the job and he accepts. Taylor makes about $250,000 in base salary with Sacramento State, which can be surpassed with a number of bonuses, such as Coach of the Year honors. Stanford paid Shaw in excess of $6 million annually. Even half of that salary would be a towering figure over what Sacramento State could offer.

Sacramento State athletic director Mark Orr has told The Bee multiple times that his biggest concern is losing Taylor, and the one-time Cal cornerback added last week, “Every big college football job should have Troy Taylor on their list. He’s that good. Of course, we don’t want to lose him.”

Taylor signed a seven-year deal with the Hornets before the 2019 season, and it is a roll-over deal for as long as he wants it.

Taylor helped lead Folsom High School to a 59-3 record and the 2014 CIF State Division I-AA championship with a 16-0 record. He was then approached by Eastern Washington of the Big Sky Conference to be offensive coordinator. He took the job, a pay cut, and helped the Eagles set school and FCS passing records. Taylor was later hired as offensive coordinator at Utah, where the Utes won the Pac-12 Conference South in 2018 for the first time.

Taylor was drafted by the New York Jets in 1990 and was on their roster for two seasons. He coached receivers at Colorado in 1995 and was an assistant coach at Cal from 1996-2000, including one year as Cal’s recruiting coordinator.