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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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John L. 01-07-2011 06:35 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.140 (total posts: 1)
16     15

Think about it from Luck's perspetive.

1. There's a good chance that 2011 is a lockout year in the NFL (and I think Luck knows something we mere mortals don't)

2. You'd be going to the Carolina Panthers, currently maybe the least talented team in NFL history

3. You are just a redshirt sophmore, and you only need one more year to get your degree

4. Your family is rich. Even if everything falls apart football-wise, you're going to remain rich.

Why play stay in school? The money? He obviously doesn't care that much about it, because he doesn't need to. The challenge? Getting beat up for a hopeless Panthers team (seriously, the franchise needs to be contracted) for 16 weeks is no one's idea of fun. So why?
name 01-07-2011 06:29 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.219 (total posts: 1)
16     13

cool story bro
Classic Silver and Black 01-07-2011 05:33 pm xxx.xxx.xxx4.74 (total posts: 1)
14     11

I agree with Matt: Luck's decision raises a red flag about his will to succeeding, to ultimately become the best football player in the world.
The comparison with Michael Jordan fits perfectly.
Frankly, this is what I like about minorities (particularly black) athletes and what I hate about upper class wasp athletes. The best situation to become the ultimate competitor in your sport is to have no alternative, to be 100% committed to your sport or end up like a bum in the gutter.
Herp 01-07-2011 05:08 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.180 (total posts: 1)
13     12

Don't forget that Luck's looking to take out a 10 million dollar tax-free insurance claim that the NCAA will front the down payment for. (So essentially a 9.9 million dollar free injury/life insurance payout). Couple that with the likely rookie cap for all rookies drafted THIS year. And it seems like at worst he may be out 5-10 million while avoiding an unstable labor situation in the NFL. Rest assured though, no rookies will be signed until the CBA is in place with a rookie class.
Matt McGuire 01-07-2011 05:01 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.175 (total posts: 1)
13     13

@Paul: Josh Freeman went 10-14 his last two years at Kansas State, and as a junior, three of his five wins came against LA Lafayette, N. Texas, and Montana State.

Freeman had elite intangibles - he was a leader. He was tough, he was competitive. Just because you lose, doesn't mean it is all your fault.

Of course , if you think losing QBs in college are losers, please proceed with your argument that Josh Freeman is the most overrated QB in the NFL right now - I'd love to hear it.
Aaron 01-07-2011 04:36 pm xxx.xxx.xxx0.81 (total posts: 3)
13     14

Additionally, passing on him because being an NFL QB isn't the "ultimate" goal in life doesn't make sense. His entering the draft in 2011 implies that being an NFL QB is a very big goal in his life.

Maybe the fact that he is staying at school means that he wishes to finish something that he has started; maybe it means that he has a greater drive to achieve perfection in football by winning a national championship; Maybe it implies that he thinks it is more important to perfect his skill than get run over by the Saints and Falcons next year. Maybe he thinks he can achieve greater longevity as a pro by getting better as a college player, where you have time to perfect accuracy without an NFL blitz coming at you.

Maybe these assumptions about his motivations are just as valid as any other assumptions.
Aaron 01-07-2011 04:10 pm xxx.xxx.xxx0.81 (total posts: 3)
13     13

@Walter- Yeah, Walter? If Luck values his college experience over becoming a NFL player right now, you wouldn't touch him in the first round? You're a GM; You go ahead and pass on Andrew Luck if your team has a number 1 pick next year, see how that works out for your franchise. Don't be an idiot.

Talented QBs will always be in demand, meaning that he can set the terms of his employment and when he wishes to begin said employment. I am pretty sure Andrew Luck fully understands the risks of getting injured, not playing as well, etc.. and he was weighed that against enjoying the time in college with his friends and continuing to play at a high level. Just because he has a differing hierarchy of values doesn't mean he is making a "bad" decision.
Good luck Andrew, and try to take it easy on us Cal Bears next year!
Walter 01-07-2011 03:11 pm xxx.xxx.xxx9.63 (total posts: 3)
13     13

@Munchkin - You wrote "You are making an awful lot of assumptions here including your belief that being a franchise QB is Luck's ultimate goal in life."

If this is true, I wouldn't touch Luck in the first round.

@DenDen - Manning's the exception; not the rule. So many more QBs have struggled with another year. Luck's BEST-case scenario is that everything remains status quo. There is no benefit for Andrew the Architect to go back to Stanford.
DenDen 01-07-2011 01:42 pm xxx.xxx.xxx22.4 (total posts: 1)
13     13

Peyton Manning did not chase greatness when he chose to go back to Tennessee for his senior season...and I think he has done alright at the next level.
DH 01-07-2011 01:38 pm xxx.xxx.xxx16.3 (total posts: 1)
13     13

"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."

This is a ridiculous and inaccurate point. An serious injury in college is no more likely than as a rookie in the pros. Sports fans lose NOTHING. For Luck, a serious injury next season would only hurt his bottom line.
Socrates 01-07-2011 01:12 pm xxx.xxx.xxx5.63 (total posts: 1)
13     13

"The higher the expectations are, the more is expected of you."

I may steal this.
Neil 01-07-2011 12:50 pm xxx.xxx.xxx5.59 (total posts: 1)
13     13

I heard this theory on sports radio today: Harbaugh takes job with Niners and S.F. tries to get Luck in supplemental draft. Could it be possible?
Jonathan 01-07-2011 12:39 pm xxx.xxx.xxx9.42 (total posts: 1)
13     13

Well said. Although I think you make too many excuses for Locker. I for one had Luck over Locker last year for a number of reasons. Also for as "bad" as Locker's supporting cast was, he had a RB with over 1400 yards rushing so it is not as if he was playing with Division III guys. I think when it is all said and done Locker will never be a franchise QB in the NFL
Paul 01-07-2011 11:01 am xxx.xxx.xxx6.15 (total posts: 1)
15     12

Jake Locker= Jimmy Clausen

Please Mcguire, stop loving Locker and realize that just because he's phycially talented doesn't mean he is a good quarterback. He's been a "loser" his whole colliegete career
AJD 01-07-2011 10:53 am xxx.xxx.xxx0.18 (total posts: 1)
13     13

This is even a dumb move from a degree standpoint. He's obviously going to be an NFL QB for a good portion of time. By the time be wants to become an architect, it will have been 15-20 years since he took his last class. I know he'll probably try to keep up with everything over his career, but still. He should just declare now and take his last set of classes when he turns 40.






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