LOS ANGELES – USC quarterback Mark Sanchez declared for the National Football League Draft on January 16. To the utter consternation of Pete Carroll, the fourth-year junior has proclaimed that he is ready to execute as a professional quarterback with one year of NCAA eligibility remaining. The developments shed additional light upon “amateur” collegiate athletics and the outrageous money ball of sport.
Perfect Timing for Mark Sanchez to Declare for NFL Draft
Sanchez commits to the NFL fresh from a record-setting 28-35 413 yards and 4 touchdown prime time 2009 BCS Rose Bowl performance versus Penn State. The USC signal caller shredded the opposing defense in this virtual clinic of quarterbacking. The performance sparked a dominant 38-24 victory over the 8th ranked Nittany Lions and marked the signature moment of Sanchez’ nascent career as a one-year USC starter.
Top underclassmen gun slingers Colt McCoy and Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford have also decided to return to college for their senior seasons. Mark Sanchez is now listed as the second ranked quarterback prospect to enter the NFL behind Georgia’s Matthew Stafford. Sanchez is a top-ten 2009 NFL Draft pick that would have fallen deep into the late first-round or even the second round of the 2010 selections.
Most 2009 NFL Mock Draft boards list Sanchez as the 10th pick going to the San Francisco 49’ers. Jerod Mayo, 2008’s 10th selection signed a 5-year, $18.9 million deal ($13.8 million guaranteed) with the New England Patriots. Mike Jenkins, the 25th pick of last year’s draft signed for 5 years and $9.725 million with the Dallas Cowboys – a difference of roughly $10 million over the life of the contract.
Sanchez’ decision to forego his senior season and commit to this year’s draft, rather than exhausting his NCAA eligibility and entering amidst the crowded 2010 quarterback crop is a financial boon.
Mark Sanchez is the latest quarterback prospect to be rolled out of the University of Southern California football factory. Pete Carroll’s dominant Trojan program has steamrolled the competition throughout the BCS era, earning two BCS National Championships, and three Heisman Trophy winners (Palmer-Leinart-Bush). Sanchez embarks along the trails blazed by California Golden Boy quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
Pete Carroll argues that Sanchez is every bit as talented as any quarterback that he has ever coached.
NFL scouting reveres the USC Football draft pick for good reason. The Trojans run a pro style offense that shirks shotgun-spread formation gimmicks. Pete Carroll’s calling card based upon sheer competition under girds the passionate USC atmosphere. Interestingly, five-star recruits must earn their spot along with the dozens of hungry, unheralded back-ups and walk-ons. Critical playing time is on the line with every drill.
Lastly, USC Football athletes recognize the demands of stardom. Los Angeles ceded the Raiders to Oakland in 1995 and the Trojans have emerged as the lone football power in the nation’s second largest media market. Mark Sanchez is already accustomed to celebrity status and this mindset should translate well into the professionalism that is required of NFL stardom.
Pete Carroll is Looking out for Number One (Himself), Literally
USC Head Coach Pete Carroll’s perceived thoughtful advice has degenerated into an embarrassing tantrum paralleling Mark Sanchez’ draft decision. The duo met late into the night prior to the January 16 NFL Draft declaration press conference. Carroll urged the underclassman to return to USC – arguing that decorated Trojan predecessors Leinart and Carson Palmer shunned the NFL for one final senior season run. The USC coach staunchly advocated for the additional year of seasoning:
“We don’t see this decision the same. The facts are so strong against this decision. After analyzing all the information, the truth is there; he should have stayed for another year. He lost out on a chance to fully prepare himself. The facts are there’s a 62 percent failure rate for underclassmen quarterbacks.”
To the surprise of Mark Sanchez, Pete Carroll did not participate in the NFL Draft decision press conference. Reports have also surfaced that the fiery coach refused to extend a handshake to the quarterback, or even acknowledge Sanchez’ presence after the decision was made.
The idea of slick talking sports agents, endorsers, groupies, and parasitic hangers-on is well documented within NCAA athletics. However, the machinations of collegiate coaching staffs devaluing a prospect’s draft positioning in order to convince the star player to stay put and lead a competitive roster is seldom noted.
USC’s bitter early-season 21-27 loss to Oregon State at Corvallis eliminated the Trojans from 2008-2009 BCS National Championship contention. Still, legions of commentators argued that this USC club would have been poised to defeat either runner-up Oklahoma, or the eventual BCS Champion Florida Gators upon a natural field. The return of Mark Sanchez to Southern California would have very well set the table for yet another 2010 BCS Championship title run at USC.
Now, the Trojans are riddled with question marks at quarterback – the most important position in football. The job will be commanded by Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain who has not recorded one single start since 2006, back-ups Aaron Corp and Garrett Green, or incoming freshman Matt Barkley.
Certainly, USC’s 2009-2010 BCS National Championship hopes have already been dashed with the Mark Sanchez NFL Draft departure. The subsequent responsibility of handing the keys to the USC offense over to either of these untested quarterbacking products is a daunting proposition.