A Tragic Loss
Dr. Dan Garza, a pioneer in concussion research at Stanford and the
medical director of the San Francisco 49ers, died on Tuesday night. A report from the university confirmed the news.
It had already been a rough week for Stanford football before the
horrible news hit Wednesday night. Suddenly, the Cardinal's loss to
Utah and a poorly-timed deluge of injuries didn't seem so important
Garza, who embodied Stanford's spirit of cutting-edge innovation
through his research on the prevention of traumatic brain injury in
athletes, was only 43 years old when he passed away. He attended a
Cardinal football practice just a few weeks ago.
"Dan Garza was very dedicated to sports medicine, to teaching human
physiology and to his research to improve recovery and treatment
outcomes for athletes," said Dr. William Maloney, the chairman of
Stanford's department of orthopedic surgery. "He was persistent in
his desire to find solutions to one of the most concerning areas in
our field: the prevention of concussions and head trauma. We are
saddened by his loss and the loss to our profession."
Garza had teamed with Dr. David Camarillo at Stanford to conduct
extensive studies on the risks of concussions by fitting Cardinal
athletes with high-tech mouthpieces that measure the impact and
frequency of collisions. He advocated educating athletes and parents
about the potential for injury at the youth sport level.
Just four months ago, Garza
and Camarillo joined The Bootleg Radio to detail their
groundbreaking work. True to his thoughtful form, Garza
brought a 49ers t-shirt as a gift to the recording studio. He
graciously delved into the fascinating details of how Stanford
football players have become active participants in the quest to
understand concussions and brain trauma in sports.
"It starts with coach [David] Shaw and you don't get individuals
like him in many places," Garza said in the interview, which is
embedded below. "He brings to the team the spirit of Stanford, which
is innovation, research, and intellectual curiosity."
Luck, Rice, Willingham All On Playoff Committee
The committee that will determine the four-team field for the
new college football playoff in 2014 will feature three members with
Stanford ties. Oliver Luck (Andrew's father), former coach Tyrone
Willingham, and former provost and Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice will all be part of the 13-person committee. Rice spoke at
length about her football background Thursday, even bringing up
interesting tidbits of Stanford trivia: As provost, she hired Willingham in 1998 and was on the committee that interviewed Denny
Green and Pete Carroll, both of whom were finalists for the Cardinal
head coaching job, in 1988. Green ended up getting the job.
When a reporter asked Rice whether he should refer to her as
"Professor" or "Former Secretary," she responded with a laugh: "Just
call me Condi."
- Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson tweaked a leg muscle, and
Shaw is uncertain whether or not he'll be be available for the
Cardinal's Saturday showdown against UCLA. "He's working through
it, he saw the doctors today," he said. "Not too bad, but he's
gotta be able to swing through [kicks]." Stanford should have
more answers regarding Williamson's status by Friday. Conrad Ukropina, who's been kicking well at practice, is the team's
- Shaw was thrilled with how Stanford practiced on Wednesday,
the final fully physical practice of the week. Since the
Cardinal has reached the midpoint of the regular season,
Thursday sessions will become less grueling to allow players to
better recuperate between games. "It went really well today,"
Shaw said. "Great, great effort today. They understand what it
takes, how we have to play, how we have to practice. They know
that we'll take care of them coaching-wise come Thursday, so
they got after it today."
- Luke Kaumatule is again "a day better" at defensive end after
his position switch from tight end at the start of the week.
"The bottom line: It's high effort," Shaw said. "It's exactly
what we need. Right now, we anticipate him getting some playing
- Shaw also provided more insight into the struggles of
Stanford's other reserve defensive linemen, who just got more
competition for playing time in the form of Kaumatule and
outside linebacker Blake Lueders. No. 43 is expected to
contribute at defensive end against UCLA this Saturday. "[We]
haven't seen the consistency [from them]," Shaw said. "That's
what it takes to get on the field and give us some significant
minutes... Right now, Luke's doing just as well as the guys who
have been there all year, so it looks like he's going to get
some playing time."
- When Kaumatule moved to defensive end on the depth chart
earlier this week, Aziz Shittu's name dropped off the document
entirely. There's been speculation that Shaw is maneuvering to
motivate the sophomore, who was one of the nation's
highly-touted recruit coming out of high school in the Central
Valley. But Shittu has averaged only a couple snaps per game.
"He's in there to spell," Shaw said. "He's not to the point
where we put him out there and leave him out there. He goes in
when somebody's tired, and it's usually when two guys are tired,
because we've got a good little rotation with three guys on the
outside, and if we've got two guys who are gassed, that's when
Aziz goes in... Between Luke and Blake Lueders, I think we've
got a pretty good handle on helping those guys out."
- Nose tackle David Parry (lower abdominal issue) practiced
full-go. "It was good," Shaw said. "He knows Wednesday is his
day. We treat him on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. He gets a lot of
work in Wednesday, minimal -- but good -- reps on Thursday, and
get him ready for Saturday."