10 Reasons Why I Don’t Hate Andrew Luck
This title may not make a lot of sense to the general public. However, like probably most of our 5-odd readers, us Golden Bears hate everything Stanfurd affiliated. We hate red. We hate Cardinal. If trees weren’t essential to human survival, we’d hate trees. Its why I spell “Stanford” as Stanfurd and how older generations call it “Stanfoo” and the childish call it “Stanf*ck”. Its part of the Cal mentality, we hate our rivals across the bay. Like many rivalries in college football, I accept up and down years. It’s part of rivalries, you can’t win every year (unless your U$C). During my too brief four years on the Berkeley Campus, I was lucky enough to see our football team finish .500 against Stanfurd.
At this point, you may ask why am I randomly venting against Stanfurd, shouldn’t I be giving you reasons why I DON’T hate Stanfurd’s former star quarterback and future 1st overall pick Andrew Luck? As I sit during half-time of this Celtics-Heats game, I’ve casually drifted over to ESPN U where a replay of the instant classic Stanfurd v U$C (I’ll explain my spelling of the “institution” in a follow up post entitled “Do I Hate Matt Barkley?”). It has me reminiscing about my college glory year, and our historic rivalry against Stanfurd.
As I previously said, I was fortunate enough to go to Cal post the football renaissance of Jeff Tedford. While the teams I was lucky enough to root for weren’t able to reach the mountains of those created by Aaron Rodgers, JJ Arrington, Dante Hughes, Desmond Bishop and Marshawn Lynch, I still saw an enormous amount of talent including Desean Jackson, Jahvid Best, Cameron Jordan, Syd’Quan Thompson and Shane Vereen. During my four years, Cal ending up going 2-2 against Stanfurd, 2-2 against Oregon, and 3-1 against fUCLA (no explanation needed). The 2-2 record against our rivals, however, stands out as an emotional rollercoaster for me as a Golden Bear Fan. In order for Cal fans to understand why I don’t hate Andrew Luck, and for the rest of the world to understand why I should hate Luck, here’s a recap of those 4 games against Stanfurd.
In 2007, after starting red-hot and reaching #2 nationally, the Bears tragically fell. What was the lowest point of the season for me personally? It’s not the loss to Oregon State in my first homecoming to knock off our undefeated record but rather the 20-13 loss in Palo Alto where we were forced to hand over the axe. That season Tedford decided to continue to start an injured Nate Longshore, which hampered our offense, creating a stale version of our previous incarnation. What was humiliating to me, however, was that we loss to our main rival while they carried a 3-8 record. Sure, this T.C. Ostrander team were 41 point underdogs to the mighty Trojans and won, this is still a team that we should have beaten. Following the regular season, we limped into the Armed Forces Bowl where Kevin Riley rallied our team for a come-from-behind victory over Air Force and giving proper send offs to graduating seniors while giving us freshmen reason to celebrate.
My sophomore year was memorable as it was my first “Big Game” at home as a student. I had previously attending the 2004 game which was a 41-6 beatdown delivered by Rodgers, Arrington, and Co. (Marshawn either had a 100 yards in the 4th or came devastatingly close). This game featured Cal regaining control of the axe in a 37-16 victory. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the game, it was never close as Stanfurd scored 13 of their points in the 4th while our starters rested. However, surprisingly, that 2008 team was the best I witnessed as a student (we finished 9-4 and beat the Hurricanes of Miami in the Emerald Bowl).
2009 was quite different. Something wasn’t right about our team; we started off strong and eventually went as high as six in the national poll. Then we went to Autzen Stadium (a game I wish I hadn’t attended) and were mercied into a 42-3 loss to the hands of the unranked Ducks. We limped through the rest of the season until Nov. 21st we went into Palo Alto to face a red-hot Redshirt freshman QB named Andrew Luck. While this wasn’t the Luck we have witnessed the past 2 seasons (the same one who’s been destroying college athletes and soon will be doing so to professionals), the Cardinal had still beaten Oregon and USC back to back weeks and had scored a combined 106 points in their victories. This Luck, while talented, was still raw and thankfully made many mistakes. Thank god one of those mistakes happened on November 21st.
While Luck was on our radar, our main focus was detaining Toby Gehart (ok, I hate him, he’s my least favorite college football player of all time. He surpasses Matt Leinart and Cam Newton). In what turned out to be a tightly contested game between the nations 25th (GO BEARS!) and 14th (BOO CARDINAL) teams, the evil in red held the ball with a little over 2 and a half minutes to play. Luck led the team down the field, marching to the Cal 13 yard line. Then THIS HAPPENED (I apologize for the crappy footage)!
However, 2010 was a horrible, horrible year for any Cal Bear. Not only did we not make a bowl (the first losing season since 2001), but we relinquished the axe once again. This was arguably my worst sports experience: I sat, in Memorial Stadium (the last home game for me as a student) in the pouring rain, deserted by my friends (they left, I had to stay because my parents were in the stands and we were meeting after the game), watching Stanfurd not only run up the score, but only allow two meaningless touchdowns in the 4th when the game was well out of hand. When I saw this and started crying:
Without going into further detail, Stanfurd beat the sh*t out of the Bears, 48-14 on way to their 12-1 season where they defeated Va Tech in the Orange Bowl for their first BCS victory. There’s nothing worse than to see your school go head-to-head against their rival, while we put forth effort that day, it wasn’t enough. It was a disappointment, but that Stanfurd team was talented.
After I graduated and moved back to Southern California, a weird thing happened. Not having Cal on every Saturday or being able to attend games, I grew restless. I grew weary. I, dare I say, became sympathetic towards the Cardinal. The unthinkable happened… I began to actually cheer for Andrew Luck and the rest of his team. Why? Well, I would tell my Cal friends it was because I wanted to see a Pac-12 team play in the National Championship game. But as much as I hate the Cardinal, I still respect them as a team (reason 1). They’re smart, talented, and maintain high standards that coaches like Bill Walsh and Jim Harbaugh have set for David Shaw and the rest of his coaching staff. They’ve stayed out of trouble with the NCAA, unlike one team down $outh. As the wins kept building, I began hoping that Stanfurd would finish with a perfect or near perfect record (the one loss of course would be to us Bears at Big Game). While they ending up losing to Oregon, they beat U$C (the aforementioned game on television), setting up a game against Cal, back in Palo Alto. The game wasn’t memorable, I believe I watched it from a bar stool and was actually surprised to see the final score so close (those who watched and attended the game would correct me and say that Cal’s last score was unnecessary).
The point of this essay is to show why I don’t hate Andrew Luck. I haven’t really started to explain it yet. I believe you must first delve into the person of Andrew Luck to understand why such a loyal Golden Bear doesn’t hate the Cardinal Messiah. Luck was born in Washington DC and raised in London and Germany. Under the tutelage of his father, former backup quarterback Oliver Luck, Andrew developed his skills from an early age. While many top college programs recruited the class validictorian, Luck chose Stanfurd much to my personal dismay. And why wouldn’t he? Great school, great coach, bad quarterback situation, beautiful California. What’s NOT to love? He sat for his freshman year, learned from the great tutor Harbaugh, and then dramatically improved from his redshirt freshman year to his sophomore campaign. If not for Cam Newton, Andrew Luck would have won the Heisman as a redshirt sophomore, and he had an even stronger argument for winning this past season when RGIII flew past him with the superman socks. Luck is a hard worker (reason 2) who’s always trying to improve himself (3), no matter the attention he doesn’t get but deserves (4).
Now, let’s talk about Luck’s physical attributes. If you were to build a quarterback from scratch, both physically and mentally, how would you not pick Luck. He’s cool under pressure, has a rocket arm, and was the most accurate quarterback in a pro-style offense last season in college football. Yes, Andrew Luck is the next Payton Manning (5). Watch both of them play and tell me they don’t have the same mental approach and physical characteristics (except Luck runs a 4.6 40). Not only do I believe that he could and will lead the Colts to the playoffs next season, I believe within 3 years that they are in the AFC Championship game giving Bill Belichick fits. If you watched the Stanfurd pro-day, you would know that Andrew Luck has all the tools, that he’s capable of not just making, but completing his 70 yard bombs into the wind. Once again, Andrew Luck has it all (6).
With the draft starting in a little over 2 weeks, most have you have probably seen the Sportscenter specials of Jon Gruden: QB Camp. I’ve watched the Luck one multiple times, and can’t help but to think this guy’s personality will only lead to bright futures for the Colts (7). His carries himself impressively, he not only takes the game seriously but also he’s always looking to learn (8). He displayed his intelligence to Gruden through the multiple variations of the Spider 2 & 3 Wide Banana and his knowledge of terminology (9). If guys like Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Andy Dalton can lead their teams to the playoffs in their rookie seasons, I can’t see why Luck wouldn’t (barring a terrible team, which Indy could very well be due to coaching and personnel changes) be able to do so himself (10).
So yeah, I know I’ve babbled on about my hatred of Stanfurd, my personal passion for Cal Football, and why I’ve found 10 reasons not to hate Andrew Luck. I hope you all enjoyed.