Andrew Luck has always been sort of unconventional.
Picking Stanford -- when you're a highly-sought high school quarterback playing in the "Friday Night Lights" of Texas -- was unconventional. Especially given Stanford had just gone 1-11, and when you had offers from a whole lot of other places.
Now Luck has picked Stanford again -- this time over the instant riches assured by being the No.1 draft pick, which Carolina would have made him. Luck just completed his redshirt sophomore year at Stanford, throwing four TD passes in Stanford's 40-12 victory over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl Monday night.
I talked to Luck's father, Oliver Luck, by phone about the decision Thursday afternoon (and here's a link to my column from Friday morning, which goes in-depth into this conversation). Oliver Luck said it mostly boiled down to Luck wanting "at least one more year with his guys" -- his Stanford teammates, whom Luck wants to win a Pac-10 championship with.
Oliver Luck said his son also wanted to graduate before he left school, which is what he is on track to do by the spring of 2012. "It's kind of old-school, I know, but he went to college with the idea of not leaving until he got a degree," said Oliver Luck, who is the athletic director at West Virginia and a former NFL quarterback himself.
Oliver Luck also stressed -- and I asked him several times -- that the fact that his son would have ended up in Carolina had he declared early for the draft had "absolutely nothing to do with this decision." Jerry Richardson's news conference Tuesday, the Panthers' horrible 2010 season -- none of it mattered.
To hear the father tell it, the son barely even talked about the impending lockout, much less what team he would end up on. "Those external factors were just not that important to him," Luck said. "He wanted to go back to Stanford."
Believe me, this was a bigger loss than any of the 14 the Panthers suffered this season to get that No.1 pick. Whenever Andrew Luck does come out, he's going to be special.
But the Panthers haven't had much right happen in the past couple of years, and now here's another example that was totally out of their control. Luck wants to stay. He should complete his degree in the spring of 2012 as a fourth-year junior, and so I'll betcha he does leave Stanford a year early (although the father said they would make that a separate decision a year from now).
Silver lining? If there's no NFL season at all in 2011, the Panthers would then apparently hold the No.1 pick in the 2012 draft, too, and Luck will likely be available for that one.
But few people expect the entire season to be lost, and of course by then the Panthers may have taken Cam Newton or Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett or Blaine Gabbert, and you really can't invest two straight high first-round draft choices on QB with so many other needs. (On the other hand, if Carolina doesn't take a QB and plays Jimmy Clausen again in 2011, then maybe they will end up with that No.1 pick one more time).
But it's such a longshot -- look, Panther fans need to face it. If it weren't for bad Luck, they'd have no Luck at all... gloom, despair and agony on them. (And if you know what TV show that lyric is from, you're a true Southerner).
9 months ago