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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.

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Snidely 01-08-2011 01:37 am (total posts: 1)
15     17

Luck was probably afraid of competing with the godly talents of your pickle-boy Clausen.
Mike 01-07-2011 11:02 pm (total posts: 1)
14     17

Aaron 01-07-2011 10:15 pm (total posts: 3)
15     15

@Walter- Your point that his ultimate goal in life must be to be an NFL QB in order for you to take him in the first round is asinine--the mere fact that he is entering the draft suggests that he is committed to being a QB, so why not take him in the first round?

Your indictment of Luck seems to stem from a refusal to accept that he is fully aware of the risks. Assuming that he is a smart guy (he goes to Stanford, class valedictorian etc..), he knows what could go wrong and concluded that those are acceptable risks.

Your assertion that his action is "indefensible" speaks to your inability to comprehend how someone could act on a differing set of values. Owning a website (one that I enjoy btw) does not grant you a monopoly on the evaluative possibilities for a given action of a football player.
Bill 01-07-2011 09:58 pm (total posts: 1)
14     13

Fatal injury = dead. So... not very applicable.
Yorktown 01-07-2011 09:00 pm (total posts: 8)
15     15

One last comment now that I'm reading some of the discussion, then I'll shut up.
Please learn to hear rhetoric, when Belichick was praising Moss that may have some truth, but he's not going to come out and say he's a jerk or a distraction, or anything negative.
When Luck says he wants to return to school to finish his degree, or whatever, there may be a strong sincerity to this, but he's not going to come out and say he's worried about the CBA, wants to manipulate where he goes etc...

It's all rhetoric...means absolutely nothing. The actions are what we are left to deal with. Moss is a jerk, Luck is wanting to go to a team where he can succeed...he's going to try and max this thing out.

Stop being children please...grow up.
Yorktown 01-07-2011 08:29 pm (total posts: 8)
15     14

If he ends up with a better team...the team of his choice, and wins games, has success, doesn't look like bum every week by being around losers, then he'll be making the best decision of his life.
The money will be's a slight risk and it upsets draftniks a bit, big deal. He'll have insurance also for big bucks.
He'll do fine...
Or he could go to Buffalo, Cinn, Carolina and be considered a big loser, playing for losers in places he doesn't want to be.
He's a free man, and can control his future...control his chances of success...and greatly...the team matters/the coach matters.
William F. 01-07-2011 07:54 pm (total posts: 1)
14     15

I could never pass up on that much money....even if my parents had money, i'd want my is always there....NFL isn't....His goals are ass backwards....great article Matt!
Yorktown 01-07-2011 07:44 pm (total posts: 8)
15     15

Don't forget what happened with Steve Young either...he was with Tampa, and could very easliy have rotted away, and been another bust. But, he went to Walsh/49ers and sat for a while, the took over and won Super Bowls and is in the Hall of Fame.

Smart people realize they can control where they go, and if they don't want to be in a bad situation they have to play hardball and set themselves up for success. I'd do it for my's the right move. Many a great QB turned bust because of a franchise/coach/lousy team drafting them!
Yorktown 01-07-2011 07:34 pm (total posts: 8)
15     14

Did we all forget what Elway did? Don't rule them out of this equation. Elway was drafter by the Colts, then a terrible team, and he didn't go...went to play baseball...similar message from a smart kid from Stanford, with smart parents and money (not desperate and not a pawn).
These people know that they do NOT have to go and play by the "rules"...they can make the rules and actually dictate where they play their careers.
It's something the NFL doesn't deal with much, but a player doesn't have to play...they can make it very difficult for teams and force their hand.
Yorktown 01-07-2011 07:29 pm (total posts: 8)
15     15

Well, My entry seems to have gone off into space, so I'll re-submit.

I'm going to be watching for Luck and his dad to be pulling an Eli Manning, together with Harbaugh, and getting him to the 49ers. I know the CBA may be playing a big role in this, but this may buy time to make all this happen; and it also sends a message to all the bad franchises that he's not interested, so step aside or you'll be in a situation like SD was with Eli...not going there...he's going to where he can succeed best, and his father is an NFL exec, ex pro QB, who may be the one pulling this off. It's as simple as sending the message that he's not coming, so don't bother, and make the deal if you have the pick or you'll have a hold-out that makes your franchise look even worse.

That's what I'm seeing here...we'll have to wait and see
Yorktown 01-07-2011 07:23 pm (total posts: 8)
14     14


Where have you been? Where's your next mock???
MattMcMoron 01-07-2011 07:05 pm (total posts: 1)
14     14

LOL Matt way to keep shilling for Locker. That really worked out well for you last year with Clausen, huh?
Incredulous 01-07-2011 06:55 pm (total posts: 1)
15     14

It's judgmental to rip a guy for making a well-thought decision that you are only looking at from one angle. From the standpoint that Luck could make more money, yes, he certainly would make more money by entering the draft this year. But taking the stance that the risks far outweight the benefits of returning to school is akin to viewing his decision as a stock sale - a one-time transaction where the goal is to sell at the highest peak of perceived value.

What you are forgetting, or choosing to ignore, is that much of the success of NFL quarterbacks depends on the situation they are placed in. For Luck to declare might earn him more money, but is he really prepared to lead an NFL team right now? Today? He has two seasons of game experience, which is very short when considering the numerous failed NFL prospects who left school early with similar game experience. What if Carolina were to start him right away, he flops miserably, and never regains his former luster? Yes, that would be the coaching staff's fault, but Luck would be the one criticized for not being ready to face NFL pressure.

Walter 01-07-2011 06:49 pm (total posts: 3)
14     14

@Aaron - Way to read what I wrote. I said I wouldn't touch Luck in the first round if "being a franchise QB isn't Luck's ultimate goal in life."

If Andrew the Architect wants his degree, he can take spring classes and graduate a bit late. Sorry, but his decision is indefensible, and your defense of him is myopic and contrarian.
Peeb 01-07-2011 06:37 pm (total posts: 1)
14     15

I don't want to sound like a dick Matt (though I probably will), but I think you coming back just to bash Luck a little... unclassy. In the last months, during the which your guys Clausen and Locker kind of sucked (while Locker's supporting cast is terrible and Arkansas loss to Ohio State shows how much bad play at WR can hurt a QB) I don't think you either explained to us or to yourself why Sam Bradford overplayed Jimmy Clausen, who was the superior QB. Hey, everyone makes mistakes, but if you were a class act like walter is you would have acknowledged your own mistake and gave it an explanation.
You didn't to that, and on top of it, you come back with a populist article no one can really disagree with, so you can re-gain popularity as a draftnik while bashing a QB prospect you never really liked? Please.

I apologize in advance if you were absent due to personal issues, but I thought you had to know what this article says to someone who, like me, liked and agreed with your pre-draft analysis of Bradford, Clausen and Locker, but had to re-think his own positions due to hard facts (Clausen sucking, Bradford rocking. Dunno about Locker yet, still a fan of him).

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