Andrew Luck Clearly Isn't Thinking Like a Stanford Man
Stanford students are supposed to be smart, right? Well then, who attached the junior-college electrodes to Andrew Luck's head?
Somebody needs to uncross his wires before Luck follows through with Thursday's announced plan. He's returning to the Cardinal instead of joining the NFL.
"I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design from Stanford University," he said, "and am on track to accomplish this at the completion of the spring quarter of 2012."
An architecture degree?
If Luck came out, he could buy the finest architectural firm in Palo Alto. He could exhume Frank Lloyd Wright, bring him back to life and have the great designer personally tutor him on the finer points of Usonian construction.
Now Luck is risking a guaranteed palace for another year in a dorm?
We usually praise kids for staying in school, getting an education, having their priorities straight, blah, blah, blah. The strategy makes sense for about 99.92 percent of undergrads. Luck is in that ultra-exceptional 0.08.
Like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, his genius is too big for college. Even Tiger Woods had enough judgment to know the only thing dumber than staying at Stanford would be letting his wife borrow his cell phone.
Luck is the best quarterback prospect since God, the sure No. 1 pick in April's draft. He just polished off a grand season with an MVP performance in the Orange Bowl.
If college's job is to prepare you for the real world, mission accomplished. Luck will never be in a better position than he is right now.
Thursday's announcement came in the form of a press release and offered no further explanation. Whatever scale Luck is using to balance the pros and cons, it is not calibrated to what most of us see.
Pro -- Stanford is a great experience, even if you do have to study to stay eligible. And who are we to tell him what to do?
Con -- Where do we start?
Jim Harbaugh will be surely be gone next year. So will three-fifths of Stanford's offensive line. There's little chance Luck will enjoy another 12-1 magic carpet ride.
Then there's the small matter of $60 million.
There's an NFL labor war looming. Both sides agree that when it's over there will be a wage scale to rein in those wildly ballooning rookie contracts. That means no more six-year, $78 million contracts like No. 1 pick Sam Bradford got last year.
Instead there will be a slotting system. The first pick is likely to get something like a five-year deal for $15 million.
All this is to be negotiated, but there's a decent chance it won't be in place this year. It's an absolute certainty the rookie scale law will come 2012.
You don't have to be a Stanford economist to figure out signing a $75 million deal this spring will make you wealthier than signing a $15 million deal next spring. You also don't need to be a Stanford historian to notice the risk Luck is taking.
Matt Leinart returned to USC following his junior year and went from being the No. 1 prospect to the 10th pick. That cost him at least $10 million in guaranteed cash.
Jake Locker was the top draft prospect last year. He returned to Washington, had a bad season and will be lucky if he's drafted in the top 15.
Bradford returned to Oklahoma for his junior year and had a season-ending shoulder injury in the first game. He eventually recovered his health and his draft standing, but what if Luck isn't so lucky?
"I hate to say it," John Elway said, "but he pretty much has to go."
He said that after Monday night's Orange Bowl. Elway was proudly wearing his Stanford shirt, but even through Cardinal-colored glasses he could see the truth. So we again must wonder just what Luck is seeing?
Does he hate the prospect Carolina might draft him? Charlotte may not be San Francisco, but would he rather end up in Buffalo or Cincinnati or The Al Davis Nut Farm in 2012?
And in the unlikely event the NFL doesn't play next season, what's the worst that happens? Luck sticks around campus, works on that degree, gets swooned over by a fresh slate of coeds and doesn't lose an iota of NFL appeal.
Now the worst scenario is he returns to college, suffers a career-ending injury, collects a few million in insurance and becomes the latest and greatest cautionary tale for getting out while the getting's good.
You may not be able to assign a real value on a college education, but you can put a real value on $60 million.
It's SIXTY MILLION FREAKIN' DOLLARS!
No doubt, there's a Gandhi-like nobility in turning your back on worldly pleasures. But even Mohandas himself would have to question Luck's quest for an architectural degree.
When he does get it, Thursday's decision may even scare off potential clients.
The young man has built a $75 million house that's ready to occupy. But he didn't think to put in a front door.