Andrew Luck overshadowed the Big Game hype at the annual media event in San Francisco on Monday.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford was asked if Luck was the best quarterback he’d seen in the now Pac-12 Conference, long known as a conference which features strong passing games. Tedford wasn’t willing to go that far, saying, “There have been a lot of really good quarterbacks in this conference.”
But he added, “He can make all the throws and he’s very accurate. He’s smart and knows the offense very well. And he can run the ball, too.”
He’s also a young man who has handled his celebrity status well. I asked him what he thought when he sees the speculation about which NFL team would win the “Andrew Luck sweepstakes” and draft him No. 1.
“I see that stuff on TV and I basically just ignore it,” he said. “It doesn’t make me mad or anything. It’s just there.”
Luck has the same kind of composure Aaron Rodgers had as a Cal quarterback, and you know how Rodgers’ pro career has turned out. I believe Luck is on the same path.
Last year, there was considerable speculation that Luck would turn pro early because if he waited, the next bargaining agreement would reduce what a No. 1 pick would make. I never thought Luck would do that because he’s thoroughly enjoying his time at Stanford and he values the education he’s getting.
And it may turn out to be the best decision for his pro future, too. If he’d been drafted No. 1 last year, he would have gone to Carolina, but it’s hard to imagine a rookie quarterback playing better than Cam Newton for the Panthers, and yet, they’re just 2-7.
This year, the Indianapolis Colts are the clear frontrunners for the No. 1 pick, but the Colts were a good team before injuries to Peyton Manning and others plunged them into the abyss. Next year, if Manning and friends are healthy again, there are two possible scenarios:
1) The Colts play Manning and let Luck learn for a couple of years before he takes over, as Rodgers did in Green Bay as the Brett Favre era played out.
2) The Colts trade Manning, probably for a couple of draft picks, including a first-rounder this year, build up their team and start Luck, who has a rookie debut similar to what Manning himself had.
Either way, Luck will be better off as a player than if he had come out last year. He won’t have as much money, but trust me, money is never going to be a problem for Andrew Luck.
Meanwhile, he’s enjoying this week.
“When you’re in the Bay Area and you see all the excitement of this week, you realize how special the Big Game is,” he said. “It’s a rivalry game, so you can throw out the teams’ records.”
In fact, though, the Big Game is no more unpredictable than college football as a whole. The big upsets have come when one team had much more to prove, which isn’t the case this year. Both teams are playing to advance their bowl prospects.
But Stanford has Andrew Luck. Enough said.
114th big game
Stanford (9-1) vs. Cal (6-4)
WHEN: Saturday, 7:15 p.m.
WHERE: Stanford Stadium
RADIO: KGO (810 AM), KTCT (1050 AM)