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Lake and Shaw Just Missed Sharing a Football Team Together

Both were bound for Western Washington University before Jimmy changed course.

Jimmy Lake and David Shaw will stand on opposing sidelines this weekend in the Bay Area, trying hard to beat each other. 

They'll meet for the second time as Pac-12 football coaches for Washington and Stanford, respectively, a year after Shaw won the first encounter, 31-26.

A long time ago, unbeknownst to each other, they nearly joined forces on the same college team as player and assistant coach.

In 1995, Lake was a strong safety for Spokane's North Central High School who committed to play for Western Washington University. He was all set to join the NAIA team near the Canadian border, until he received a better offer, which likely involved increased financial aid from a higher-level school — to stay home and play for FCS Eastern Washington.

By sending his regrets to the Bellingham, Washington, school, Lake missed out that year in teaming up with Shaw, the Vikings' new linebackers coach who recently was graduated from Stanford, where he had played as a wide receiver.

"I almost went to Western, but I don't remember that Coach Shaw was there," Lake said on Monday. "But that would have been interesting, for sure."

Shaw, 49, coached at WWU in 1995 and 1996 to get his career started, taking ownership of the Vikings tight ends in his second season. He was part of the staff for Rob Smith, a former Husky fullback who would lead Western football for 17 seasons.

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With Shaw on board, Western enjoyed two of it finest seasons in program history, finishing 9-1 and 11-2, in that second year advancing to the NAIA national championship game and losing to Sioux Falls 47-25. The up-and-coming assistant coach left to take a quality-control coaching job in the NFL

Lake, 44, played at Eastern Washington from 1995 to '98, sharing in 3-8, 6-5, 12-2 and 5-6 seasons with coach Mike Kramer. As a senior, he was named as a team captain and earned All-Big Sky honorable-mention honors.  

Maybe as a purveyor of things to football things to come, Lake had trouble beating Montana way back then, too. He lost three of the four meetings to the Big Sky rival, by a resounding 63-7 in the first outing. 

The Western football program, for that matter, was discontinued in 2008.  

With all of that behind them, Lake will take aim this weekend at evening the score with Shaw, as two coaches who seem to mutually respect each other, who just missed being on the same side.

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