Andrew Luck's decision to skip the 2011 NFL draft to stay for his senior year of college is one that most people wouldn't have made.
In pure economic terms, weighing all tangible pros and cons, there should have been no reason for him to come back to Stanford and stay for another year.
He was a near-consensus No. 1 pick in the draft and, depending on how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement shapes up, could be losing up to $50 million due to the NFL's proposed rookie wage scale.
He could have made exponentially more money than most, if not all of his classmates at Stanford, at least for the next few years.
Judging by the rapidly increasing rookie wages—Sam Bradford, the No. 1 pick from last year's draft, signed a six-year, $78 million deal, with $50 million guaranteed—he would have stood to make upwards of $80 million.
Now that he's decided to stay in school, it appears that he'll lose his one chance to make that incredible amount of money.
Most other players would have bolted. So why would anyone forgo all that money for the chance to play in college—for free?
There are conspiracy theories abound about why he decided to stay, some more plausible than others.
Yes, there is a distinct possibility of an NFL lockout happening, which would have put him in the awkward position of not being able to play in the NFL, and no way to come back to school to play.
Yes, there is a possibility that he could be victim to the rookie wage scale anyway, since the draft is in April and the deadline for the CBA is in March.
Yes, there is a very real possibility of Jim Harbaugh staying at least another year, especially after the Miami Dolphins decided to retain Tony Sparano as head coach.
And yes, his story is one of the few feel-good stories of college football this season and by staying, he becomes the face of college football, whether he likes it or not.
No one except Andrew Luck truly knows why he decided to stay. None of those reasons are particularly compelling.
Why He's Staying
Rather, he stayed because it was the right choice for him. He just showed that he is not as one-dimensional as many others. He is a student, a teammate, a son, a Stanford Cardinal and a college football player.
He is a high-character student-athlete who decided to take the road less taken, that of the student. His parents probably drilled into him the importance of getting an education, and it appears their lessons were well heeded.
Unlike many other people, he didn't consider football and college as just a means to an end. He respects college enough to want to graduate with his degree, NFL stardom be damned.
As a football player, he gets to play one more year with the 'boys' he joined the program with. He gets to raise Stanford's profile in the elite college football hierarchy. He gets another shot at the Heisman and possibly the National Championship.
And he gets another year to fine-tune, improve, and get bigger, stronger, and faster, though he is probably as ready as any college QB this side of Peyton Manning.
Whether he knew it or not, Luck's decision was a win for Stanford University; it was one for the school, the students, and the alumni. But more importantly, it was a win for college football.
Whereas players like Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor brought into question the purity and sanctity of the sport and institution, Luck brought respectability and integrity back to the sport.
Ultimately, he is doing what he feels is best for him and it shows his character and class.
Regardless of what anyone else thinks, this decision must have been a difficult one, and whether he picked the right or wrong choice, he has probably won the respect and admiration of many with this decision.
The Right Decision?
From an economic standpoint, Luck has probably picked the wrong choice. He's on top of the world, and the crazy money being dangled in front of him is the most he could probably get—in such a short time frame—in his lifetime.
In this case, there's so much more risk and uncertainty by staying that there's no real upside in it.
But one could argue that Luck showed the strength of character and poise to follow his heart and the adage "money isn't everything." It's an admirable and respectable decision, albeit a highly questioned one.
At least there are no questions about his character. Instead, he's being questioned on his intelligence and prudence.
So was Luck's decision a dumb one? Only time will tell.
Was it the right one? For Stanford fans it was.
Luckily, Andrew Luck seems to be a Stanford fan.