Photo by Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has decided he doesn’t want to be the #1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Could you imagine if this happened in basketball? It’s been a full decade since an NBA team has drafted even a college junior #1 overall.

The wild part is this is now the third time it’s happened in football in the last seven years, and all three guys were Pac-10 quarterbacks. And it didn’t work out well for the first two.

I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t be reacting differently if Luck wore the red and blue of Arizona. If Nick Foles had thrown for five touchdowns instead of three picks in the Alamo Bowl, vaulted to the top of Mel Kiper’s big board, and then announced he was staying in school I would’ve done back flips. I would’ve called him loyal, dedicated and a credit to mankind.

But he isn’t a Wildcat. And therefore I have enough perspective to say…

Andrew Luck, you are crazy.

The immediate response is, “It’s not about the money.” Fine. Let’s pretend it doesn’t matter that Luck is risking at least the $10 million dollars that Matt Leinart lost when he returned to USC for his fourth year. Luck is still taking a huge gamble because of the opportunity that comes along with getting paid as the #1 pick.

If your employer invests a huge chunk of money in you, you are going to get every chance to succeed.

Look at the number of chances Alex Smith has gotten with the 49ers. He’s never thrown 20 touchdown passes in a season. He’s never finished in the top 15 in quarterback rating. Yet there he was at the end of the year, starting the final game of his contract even after getting benched multiple times.

Do you think the Arizona Cardinals would’ve brought in Derek Anderson if they were paying Leinart #1 pick money?

I love college sports much more than pro but if your dream goes beyond being a college star you have to give yourself the best chance of becoming a franchise NFL QB and that means grabbing that #1 status when it’s there.

It certainly worked out well for Sam Bradford (a junior) when Jake Locker did not turn pro even though he had all the draft buzz last year. It’s always a mistake to assume just because you’re hot now you’re going to stay hot.

When you’re trying to decide the right time to walk away from a blackjack table you have to ask yourself, “What are the chances I’ll end up with more chips than I have right now?”

Luck and the Cardinal aren’t going to get any hotter than they are today. 12-1 seasons ending in dominating BCS bowl wins don’t come around that often, even for the biggest football factories.

Stanford started a lot of seniors on offense. The Cardinal loses three offensive linemen, both wide receivers, their tight end, and fullback (who also happens to be their starting linebacker). They lose another three starters on defense plus a linebacker who is leaving early, as well as their kicker/punter.

It’s not like Stanford is going to be picked to unseat Oregon in 2011. And that’s assuming Jim Harbaugh walks away from his own $50 million payday.

Stanford just completed a near-perfect season. Andrew Luck was projected in the perfect draft slot. Because of that, returning to school makes him crazy.

Since, you know, he’s not a Wildcat.

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Scott Terrell is not projected as the #1 pick but you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.