On Andrew Luck's Decision to Return to Stanford

The news that Andrew Luck was returning to Stanford instead of entering the NFL draft arrived via AOL Instant Messenger. I was in a meeting when the following messages from my girlfriend, an equally devoted Stanford fan, popped up on my laptop:

IHeartRuleofTree (not her real screen name, sadly): http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=5995754

IHeartRuleofTree: !!!

The letters "ncf" in the URL taunted me, but I couldn't click on the link. "In a meeting," I managed to respond. "What is it?"

The reply came quickly.

"Luck is staying!"

I proceeded to jump on the table and do the Pee-Wee Dance, followed by the Dougie and the Heisman. OK, so maybe I didn't actually break out the Dougie.

Years from now I probably won't remember where I was when I first heard the news that Andrew Luck was passing up guaranteed millions as the projected No. 1 pick in the NFL draft to earn his degree in architectural engineering and suit up one more season for the Cardinal and White. Right now, though, it feels like I might.

The news didn't come as a complete shock to me, even if most pundits predicted the Heisman runner-up and Orange Bowl MVP was as good as gone with head coach Jim Harbaugh seemingly poised to lead the way. Peter King offered sustenance to those holding out hope for One! More! Year! with his report last month that Luck was leaning toward coming back. The day after Luck threw for four touchdowns in Stanford's 40-12 demolition of Virginia Tech and declined comment on his future plans, I received an e-mail from a friend who had heard from another friend who attended the Cardinal's post-game party. That friend was told by at least four different people, including a current and former Stanford teammate, that Andrew would be back.

I guess I didn't want to jinx it given the recent disappointment being felt in Ann Arbor, and perhaps soon among 49ers fans, with respect to Harbaugh. Toward the end of the season, I started to think that Luck and Harbaugh's future plans were intertwined. Perhaps they still are. (Update: OK, they're not.)

I'm obviously ecstatic that Luck is coming back. Others aren't so pleased. In his position, Luck couldn't possibly have made a wrong decision. While his NFL draft stock has fallen, Washington quarterback Jake Locker has said he doesn't regret his decision to return after being in Luck's shoes last year, and I'm inclined to believe him. As a commenter mentioned in the previous post, Luck's parents deserve a lot of credit for raising a kid with the confidence to make a decision that he felt was right, regardless of what everyone else thought.

Years from now, I probably won't remember where I was when I first heard the news that Andrew Luck was returning to Stanford. I will always remember the Orange Bowl, though, and I'm hopeful there are at least a few similarly good memories made in his junior season.

Oh, and one more thing: !!!

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