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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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derp 01-07-2011 10:27 am xxx.xxx.xxx.249 (total posts: 1)
12     12

It's his decision but I think it is stupid. I do think being an NFL franchise QB was his goal in life. Look at the choices he made so far. If he did not want to go to the NFL when he was 18 and wanted the degree in architecture, he could have gone to Cornell's architecture school (no. 1 in the nation). Instead, he did everything to get rated by scouts for the recruiting process, chose Stanford for Harbaugh's guidance to prepare him for the NFL, and now at the peak of potential value, he shirks away from going to the NFL. I would not be surprised to see a QB hop him next year like he hopped Locker over the course of this season. There is a lot more downside to this decision. Great post by McGuire.
munchkin 01-07-2011 09:19 am xxx.xxx.xxx.153 (total posts: 1)
13     13

You are making an awful lot of assumptions here including your belief that being a franchise QB is Luck's ultimate goal in life. You don't have any idea what his priorities are and seem to believe that he should venture into a career at a point in his life when he is not be ready to. He doesn't owe the NFL or the professional sports world anything.
You've done a great job of letting us know what your priorities are but it seems as though they don't mesh with Luck's. If you want to watch someone chase greatness focus on Brady, Manning and Rodgers.
JB 01-07-2011 09:13 am xxx.xxx.xxx.153 (total posts: 1)
9     9

Maybe he has a love interest he doesn't want to leave behindd.

or maybe he doesn't want to live in carolina

Or maybe he truly believes there will NOT be an N.F.L.season next year.

Profootballtalk paints a doom and gloom picture often so perhaps Luck is thinking...if I go to the N.F.L. and there is no training camp or no season and Idon't get an extended practice time with my team it'll greatly effect my future.

Perhaps he is truly concerned with finishing college.

Or maybe, he's not mentally ready for this.

We forget how young these people are. If you're not mentally ready for the N.F.L. it could be bad experience. How many immature young players have we seen ruin promising careers?
Whatdoyouwant 01-07-2011 08:20 am xxx.xxx.xxx7.41 (total posts: 1)
16     17

Why do people assume Luck doesn't want to play for Carolina? That's idiotic. What makes the Panthers a worse situation than last year's Rams? They sure as hell are a better situation than the 08-09 Lions. They guy just wanted to finish his degree.
I understand it. 01-07-2011 07:56 am xxx.xxx.xxx1.76 (total posts: 1)
15     15

Panthers need new starters at...

FB,
TE,
LG,
C,
RG,
RT,
DE,
DT,
DT,
OLB,
OLB,
CB,
FS,
SS.

ALL of that, with no coach, and no second round pick.

Seems like a no brainer to me...
Nathan 01-07-2011 06:21 am xxx.xxx.xxx.132 (total posts: 1)
16     15

I was discussing this with a friend last night - neither of us could quite believe it - and then we worked out what the reason behind it is.

Luck doesn't want to play for Carolina.

And let's face it - would you? Luck's seen Clausen/Moore etc get battered all year with no protection or weapons. Taking Luck means Carolina realistically can't address all of these issues. Why would he want to go there this year?

Either way, I totally agree with Matt on this one.
TeHDruiD 01-07-2011 05:59 am xxx.xxx.xxx.144 (total posts: 1)
16     16

Nice entry, Matt. I agree with all of it. It's his life and his decisions, but a lot of bad could come from it. Of course their is the good chance that nothing bad does come from it, but to me their is no reason to risk it.
Walter 01-07-2011 05:42 am xxx.xxx.xxx9.63 (total posts: 3)
16     16

First comment... we're going to have comment boards like this all over the site soon. We're still working out the kinks, so this is not the finished product.






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