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Posted Jan. 7, 2011

Analyzing Andrew Luck's Decision

There are a ton of ways I'm going to analyze Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's decision to return to school for his redshirt junior season - not just why it was another terrible decision by an underclassman quarterback, but what you as a fan or draftnik can learn from it.

Let's talk about why Luck is returning to Stanford. First, he believes nothing bad is going to happen to him. His dad probably told him, "The NFL will always be there" about a hundred billion times. Luck doesn't envision himself regressing next season. He also loves college. I'm sure he loves the college culture - the girls, the partying, the friends, and the overall college environment. Hey, I understand - college is the greatest years of many people's lives.

However, none of us have the chance to be a franchise quarterback in the National Football League. None of us hit the lottery - born into the right family with the right genetics and upbringing to live the dream. And none of us will ever earn enough money to make Scrooge McDuck jealous.

It's a bad decision, and just because you are being a nonconformist in going back to school doesn't make it the right decision.

What does a college diploma mean when you are an NFL quarterback? Why is a degree important if you can make life-changing money and you have a career making millions for the next 15 years? You can always go back to school and get your degree.

I feel like there is a lot to be said for wanting to play against the best competition in the world and own the burden of being a franchise quarterback - it's similar to wanting the ball in your hands in the fourth quarter. You want the pressure because you want the adversity so you can feel the happiness of success.

Is this what Luck wants? Most of us dream of becoming a famous athlete when we are kids - the fame, the money, playing sports for a living. How badly does Luck want to play at the next level? Is he not ready for the pressure of being a franchise quarterback?

If you want to compete against the best in the world and prove yourself - you go pro.

Andrew Luck has nothing left to prove, and the worst part about this decision is his stock inevitably must go down - but he could still go No. 1 next year. Jim Harbaugh is an elite play-caller - one of the best in college football. He was always one or two steps ahead of the defense, and his receivers always seemed to be open due to orchestrating creative route combinations, predicting coverages and creating mismatches. Whoever replaces him will make Luck look less efficient.

Luck is also losing fullback Owen Marecic, receivers Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen, and three starters on the offensive line. I think we can also expect the defense to take a step back.

Lucks' stats certainly won't stay the same, and they can't be any better.

Luck is perceived as this perfect quarterback. Draftniks tend to knock quarterbacks who are big, athlete, and have strong arms - these are very positive qualities individually, but a quarterback like Luck isn't very flashy and Draftniks love this. It's a wrong line of thinking because talent is a positive trait, but Luck's skill set makes him very appealing.

The problem with being perceived as perfect is people expect you to stay perfect, and this is where Jake Locker comes into the discussion. Locker was everybody's No. 1 pick to start the year. Everyone expected Locker to perform better than he did in 2009 because he had another year of experience. However, the expectations were too high, his supporting cast was absolutely pitiful, and it was simply too much for any quarterback to overcome. The higher the expectations are, the more is expected of you. The bar is impractically high, and Luck will enter the 2012 NFL Draft after a year that wasn't as good as 2010, and there will be some questions regarding his makeup. Maybe some will view Luck as a product of Harbaugh if he somehow starts throwing a lot more interceptions and he can't move the sticks as often.

Another factor - what if something really bad happens to Luck? What if he suffers a fatal injury? What if he becomes injury-prone and has to wait until 2013 to declare? Anything can happen. Going back to school is a massive risk.

I'm thinking Luck really doesn't care if he goes No. 1 overall now or No. 12 overall in 2012. It's all the same - and quite frankly, if $10 million can't make you happy, then neither will $50 million.

To me, it's about wanting to be great. It's about pushing yourself and wanting to prove yourself against the best in the world. It's about that dream you have of wanting to become one of the greatest ever to play the game and win championships.

I've got news for Luck - your public perception can be sunny on one day, then four months later it can turn into complete darkness and negativity. Ask Locker. You have no talent around you and a defense that can't stop anyone. You put up some pitiful stats, lose some games, and all of a sudden you go from accurate, productive and a "winner" to inaccurate, inconsistent and a "loser." It can be gone in the blink of an eye.

It's Luck's life; not mine, but I want to see athletes chase greatness. Can you imagine if Michael Jordan had said he wanted to get his degree at North Carolina instead of coming out as a junior, and then he subsequently tore his ACL and never fully recovered? We ALL would have lost something as sports fans.

Don't say it is impossible. A big part of the reason why we love sports is the element of unpredictability. It's why we watch games. Yeah, we think we know, but you have to play the games.

Luck is flirting with fire, and the fire known as the NFL Draft can be as brutal and cruel as anything.

Leave a comment

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Melanna 01-02-2014 02:51 am (total posts: 1)
1     1

Awesome goals and very doable! Glad thigns are calming down. I know how life can mess thigns up and I'm glad that you are able to join us again.
Stephen 02-25-2012 01:50 pm (total posts: 1)
11     12

I'm just posting this here to point out what a complete $*&^ing idiot you sound like 15 months later.
Carlie 11-02-2011 01:12 am (total posts: 1)
16     17

Going to put this atircle to good use now.
Eric 01-28-2011 04:55 pm (total posts: 1)
15     19

I don't think you can bash anyone's decision to go back to school. Just cause he is a high profile athlete and the best one in college, doesn't mean he has to come out just to appease fans. He most certainly could get injured and his stock might plummet, but that's his choice to make. Look at Sam Bradford, I'd say he did ok.

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Austin L 01-10-2011 09:08 pm (total posts: 1)
13     17

What if Peyton Manning came out a year earlier, got drafted by the Jets in the '97 draft, and St. Louis never gets Pace. The greatest show on turf likely never happens, and the Colts could be looking at multiple years of futility and Dungy would be elsewhere. Whatever happens, we never know. Luck very well could still be a franchise QB and he very well could bust. We as non-athletes hate it when one throws away an opportunity, but we are not in a position to criticise. If Luck has confidence in himself as a player and enjoys a Stanford education that very few can receive, then more power to him.

When you're that good and that competitive, tell me you won't do what will bring you the most joy, letting the common man bring you down.
Vince 01-10-2011 06:00 pm (total posts: 2)
14     17

Same thing with Locker last year. He committed to his hometown team to give them the respect and prestige he feels they deserve. He went there to make them a winner, which he hadn't yet done. The job was unfinished, so he went back to do it again. Sometimes these players have other things on their mind when they go back. Leinart loved playing with Bush & co and had so much fun at USC.
Vince 01-10-2011 05:59 pm (total posts: 2)
16     21

Why must you rip his choice? Maybe he has more fun at college. Maybe he'd feel a lot better about himself if he finished his degree. Maybe he's afraid of the CBA issue. Maybe he wants to lessen the blow to his school of Harbaugh leaving. If Luck truly loves Stanford, he won't let them wither away after such a great season by leaving them with absolutely nothing. Also, he's only a sophomore. He has so much football ahead of him.
Yorktown 01-09-2011 09:01 am (total posts: 8)
16     17


I doubt it's just Carolina, but I would include Buffalo also, and all the other whacked-out/loser franchises. He will force his way onto a small group of teams that he feels will set him up for success. He's holding most the cards, just like Elway & Manning. They refused to go...forced trades and ended up where THEY wanted to play, and it worked for them! He's doing the right thing.
Yorktown 01-09-2011 08:57 am (total posts: 8)
16     17

Jar Jar,

I wrote down below, after reading a very good article on another website, that Luck's father is an NFL executive, and this author pointed out that because Luck decided to go back to school that it's not a good sign for a quick settlement on the CPA. He believes there may be an extended delay and he doesn't want his son to have to sit.
I believe he's trying to get his son into the best possible winning situation. Meaning, pulling an Eli Manning & John Elway...refusing to sign with a franchise they feel will put Luck in a losing situation. It's the right move...force teams to trade. All we can do is wait a year plus and see if he ends up with a solid team...say the 49ers???
Jar Jar Binx 01-09-2011 07:17 am (total posts: 1)
15     21

I wonder if the possibility of a lockout isn't a factor in Luck's decision...
Still, he should have declared.
Corey 01-09-2011 03:53 am (total posts: 1)
19     18

I seriously have to ask everybody who is supporting Luck's decision to stay in school because they believe he wants to be put in a better situation than being the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers this very simple question: have you ever been to Buffalo mid-winter?
paul 01-08-2011 03:56 pm (total posts: 1)
21     16

M. Mcguire, I'm just tired of hearing you make excuses for Locker everytime he plays terrible, its always his teams bad, no blocking, wide outs aren't open etc...There comes a point where you just have to look at him and say wow, you didn't win one game your junior season, or holy crap you went 4-20 one game..maybe you aren't what we thought. Instead of just looking and seeing he has the physical tools, really look and see if he knows how to use the physciall tools he has on the football field. ENough with the excuses!
Ohana 01-08-2011 12:10 pm (total posts: 1)
17     18

Maybe someone already posted this thought but maybe NFL teams should be applauding him for going back. If he personally doesn't feel the need to go or feel ready right now it would be inevitable he flops. It doesn't really matter what other people think, it matters what Andrew Luck thinks. He may have just saved Carolina millions. Patience is a virtue.
RHSC 01-08-2011 04:19 am (total posts: 1)
14     16

I sgree with the main point, that Luck should have declared. The article was very well written, IMO. Nice job.
Scott 01-08-2011 03:36 am (total posts: 1)
16     20

Great Article Matt! I'm glad someone is pointing out the absolute arrogance he is showing by trying to shoulder this load by himself. Stanford will miss Jim Harbaugh next year. His leadership and coaching style really helped this team. I doubt that any coach that Stanford hires will have a similar impact to Harbaugh's.

It just makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

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