Winning is good. It’s fun.
But when you are marginally relevant football program, winning comes with a price.
You see, everyone loves a winner.
Especially perennial college powerhouses with rich football traditions and the NFL. They love winners.
If you are a Cardinal fan, or Cardinal AD Bob Bowlsby, watching your Cardinal demolish the Hokies of Virginia Tech was bitter sweet.
Yes, you proved that your team this year is a bona fide top 5 program. However, your success now comes with the cost of losing your star Junior quarterback, Andrew Luck, who threw for 4 touchdowns and 287 yards, to the NFL as the likely #1 overall pick. And you may lose the man who put your football program back on the map, Jim Harbaugh, who is coveted by the NFL and his alma mater, Michigan.
For the first two and half quarters the focus was on the game. Then focus came back to the futures of Harbaugh and Luck after a three play sequence in the 3rd quarter that took the wind out of the Hokies sails and propelled Stanford to another blowout win.
With the score 19-12 Stanford, the Hokies were driving in Cardinal territory. Hokie quarterback Tyrod Taylor attempted to hit Jarrett Boykin on a post pattern. The Hokie quarterback did not see Cardinal safety Delano Howell patrolling the middle of the field and made an easy pick at the Stanford 3 yard line.
Then Stanford’s offense turned out the lights on the Hokie season with as quick and violent of a 1-2 punch as you will see in college football.
The first punch, a Stepfan Taylor 56 yard run to stun the Hokies.
Then the knockout blow, an Andrew Luck 41 yard touchdown to Coby Fleener.
Three plays: Hokie turnover, Stanford 56 yard run and a 41 yard pass for the touchdown.
27 unanswered points later, 40-12 Stanford.
Luck and Harbaugh were both dismissive of any talk about their futures in post game comments, but there is very little doubt in my mind that the Cardinal will see as successful of a season next year without both of these two leaders returning.
In all reality, it makes sense for both to leave Stanford. Stanford is not a perennial football powerhouse, so being able to duplicate this magical season is not likely.
Luck has many financial considerations to weigh. Once the new NFL CBA is in place, rookies will likely see a drastic pay decrease for the 2012 draft. Luck would be turning away at least 10 million bucks in guaranteed money by not leaving for the NFL this year.
Luck should also take heed to the critiquing of Jake Locker and Matt Leinart. Both were destined to be #1 overall picks as juniors, but both stayed one more year and received more needling from scouts and ended up (and in the case of Locker will end up) losing millions of dollars in signing bonuses.
As for Harbaugh, he’s done all he can in Stanford. Personally, I want him to go to San Francisco.
Because I’d love to see Harbaugh and Pete Carroll go at it in the NFC West two times a year for the next 3 to 5 years.
Remember Pete Carroll asking Jim Harbaugh “What’s your deal?” after getting worked over by Stanford a few years back? That midfield handshake at end of every game would be must see tv.
In conclusion, great season by the Cardinal. Enjoy it while you can Cardinal fan because a week from now your football program will likely be turned completely upside down.
On the bright side, you will always have Women’s Tennis.
About the Author
Written by Donovan Williams
32 year-old sports fan who has the audacity to think that he could be good at this sports writing thing. I'll be honest. I'll be snarky. I'll be sarcastic. Maybe not in that order. It is my goal to ensure that my opinions will generate a response from you, dear reader. Good, bad or indifferent, I welcome your replies.