Clardy's Corner: After Andrew

When it comes to Stanford Football this season, as far as I'm concerned, Andrew Luck doesn't exist.

A near-heretical thought, I realize. After all, Luck rewrote the Cardinal's prestigious quarterback record books. He was the top pick in the NFL Draft last April. And he is the clubhouse leader to be the best quarterback in my Stanford lifetime. I loved watching him play for us.

But I just checked the depth chart and the roster, and I didn't see anyone named Andrew Luck on this year's team.

I look forward to seeing how Andrew fares in the NFL. When his Indianapolis Colts were facing the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, I was pleased that he was able to brush off an early rough start and rally the Colts to two touchdowns. Now, Andrew still has a lot of work to do before we fit him for his Pro Football Hall of Fame jacket. But so far, most of the early reviews have been very positive. I'm happy to see that.

That said, I won't be seeing Andrew Luck taking snaps for the Card this year. Instead, I will see Josh Nunes under center as the Cardinal kick things off this Friday night against San Jose State. Nunes begins the season as head coach David Shaw's choice to start at quarterback.

Whether or not Nunes should have received the nod over Brett Nottingham, quite honestly, is not for me to say. I don't have Nunes' practice film handy, and I don't know what the coaches know. So, unlike the faction of underwhelmed Cardinalmaniacs who voiced their displeasure on the BootBoardPlus, I will happily defer to David Shaw on this one.

I trust that Shaw knows more about this than we do. I also trust that Shaw is also not going to fall into the trap of comparing anything Nunes or Nottingham do to what Andrew accomplished. Those kinds of comparisons are, I think, unfair to all involved.

Somehow though, I suspect it won't stop the media from somehow weaving Luck into every single Stanford football subplot this season. And I get the feeling it won't be long before some Cardinalmaniacs are saying, "Andrew never would have done that!" Josh Nunes isn't Andrew Luck. The sooner people accept this, move on, and stop comparing the two, the better off everyone will be.

This isn't to discount what Andrew achieved on The Farm. Far from it. With all his records, all his big plays, and all the attention he brought to Stanford Football, Luck's tremendous impact on the program provides the toughest act to follow since the last Cardinal quarterbacking giant graduated in 1983.

Of course, the Cardinal finished a dismal 1-10 in that first year A.E. (After Elway) But the good news is that Stanford is highly unlikely to repeat that brutal scenario in the first year A.L. After all, the Cardinal cupboard is much better stocked this time around, and this year's team is much better equipped to handle the task.

RB Stepfan Taylor will be asked to carry his share of the load for Stanford, and most indications are that he will be willing and able to do so. Behind Taylor, there seems to be much to like from the rest of the Cardinal rushing attack. As long as Nunes knows how to execute a handoff and step aside, Stanford should be fine for its first two games.

The Stanford defense should be one of the quickest and nastiest the Pac-12 has to offer. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but Chip Kelly, Rich Rodriguez, and Mike Leach are all in the conference now. In a league where you have to face an offensive mastermind every single week, defense may actually go further in deciding things in the Pac-12 this year than you might think.

So there is still a lot to like about this team, even without Andrew Luck. And even with some formidable obstacles in their way (most likely from Eugene and South Central), there are still many reasons to like the Cardinal's chances of competing in the league. When it comes to conference clout and national relevance, Stanford is still there.

There's nothing like getting there, as we've just learned. It's also pretty difficult. Oregon has been there for a while. In an extremely unfortunate turn of events, U$C appears to be heading back there. Washington hasn't been there for real in almost 20 years. UCLA needs a map to get back there. The cal Bears almost got there…and then Kevin Riley had a crucial brainfart at the absolute wrong time and didn't throw the ball against Oregon State in 2007.

Getting there is awesome. But getting there is nothing without staying there. That's the task for this year's team. That's how this year's leaders—Taylor, Thomas, Skov, Ertz, and many others—can forge their legacy. That's how David Shaw can separate himself from his own predecessor. They, like me, are leaving the 2011 Stanford Cardinal team where it belongs: in the history books, in our memories, and in the past.

Turning the page on great athletes is hard. Trust me, if I had my way, Luck, Troy Walters, Owen Marecic, and the entire 2001 men's basketball team would all be in Stanford uniforms forever. But it has to be done. By the players, the coaches, the fans, the media, everyone.

Andrew Luck helped us get there. But he isn't here now. So to me, when it comes to Stanford Football, Andrew Luck is out of sight and out of mind.

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RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS

Yes, you read that right: now that a certain school on Figueroa is finally off probation, I am now referring to the league as the Pac-12 again. No, I'm not thrilled about this…

Once again, it was awesome to be on a plane to watch Stanford play in a BCS bowl. Seeing old friends in Phoenix was great. Basking in the 78-degree temperatures on game day was wonderful. Oklahoma State fans were everywhere—especially outside the stadium, it seemed—but watching our fans match them inside the stadium was fantastic. Yes, it all had a nightmarish ending. No, I wasn't happy to get back to Pittsburgh and be greeted by 12-degree temperatures and a couple of inches of snow on my car. But it was still a great experience…

When Stanford's schedule was released, I hated it. From top to bottom. Not a fan of Friday night games. Not a fan of having U$C on campus before the students arrive. A trip to Boulder in November will send The Bootleg's historians to the archives to find the last time the Card played during a snowstorm. And while Stanford's press release calls the October 20 date for this year's Big Game "unprecedented", the words I would use are unprintable…

Hey cal fans, the newfangled Memorial Stadium looks good. But weren't you supposed to get that shiny new stadium before Stanford was? What took you guys so long?

As I mentioned last fall, I loved Arizona's hiring of Rich Rodriguez. However, based on his year at Pitt, I promise you that it won't take long before Arizona State regrets hiring Todd Graham…

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott can eat a baby on live television, and he would still be alright in my book. Why? Because I can get the Pac-12 Network in Pittsburgh. I was overjoyed to stumble upon it last week. Too bad the first thing I saw was that 1999 Stanford-Washington game where Marques Tuiasosopo runs roughshod over the Card. Sigh…

Not a Pac-12 thought, but… as pumped as I was when the Pittsburgh Steelers took David DeCastro with their first pick in the draft, I was heartbroken to see him clutching his knee in Buffalo on Saturday…

Not a Pac-12 thought, but… in a mild road rage incident in 2007, Joe Paterno cornered a female driver and threatened to call the police on her. Good to know there was at least one instance in his life where Paterno wanted to get the police involved…

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CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX

Got a thought on this Corner? Drop me a line either at my Scout.com inbox (username: troyc)... or e-mail me at troyc@thebootleg.com...

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Troy Clardy is in his 20th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. In its 11th season of Cardinal commentary, Clardy's Corner appears Wednesdays during the college football regular season on TheBootleg.com. You can also check him out online at TroyClardy.com, hear him on Pittsburgh's Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan, or e-mail him at troyc@thebootleg.com.


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