This was never supposed to happen. Andrew Luck was supposed to say thank you to his coaches and teammates, talk about all of the goals he had accomplished, and then diplomatically explain how excited he was to be able to fulfill his childhood dream of playing in the NFL. He wouldn't have to mention the money, but everyone in attendance at that press conference would know the particulars -- Luck would surely be the first overall selection in this spring's NFL draft, and the Carolina Panthers would gleefully snap him up and present him with a contract worth something close to $50 million. And who could blame him for wanting to start his career?
But then Luck did the unexpected. Instead of the press conference and the payday, he simply issued a twenty-nine-word statement: "I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design from Stanford University and am on track to accomplish this at the completion of the spring quarter of 2012."
With those words he likely solidified a pre-season top-five ranking for the Cardinal in 2011 and placed himself firmly atop next year's Heisman Trophy watch list. Even more important than that, his decision will definitely influence the decisions of the recruits who are still two months from signing their letters of intent.
But here's the craziest part of all this. In 2009 Toby Gerhart ran roughshod over the opposition and was the runner-up in the Heisman voting, and this year Luck received the same honor. If things go as expected on Thursday night, we'd expect to see Luck at the Downtown Athletic Club, making that ceremony the third straight program featuring a Cardinal player.
So in review, the Mighty Card will enter the 2011 season as a top-five team with national championship aspirations, and Andrew Luck will be everyone's favorite Heisman candidate.