Before Sam Bradford even returned from the halftime locker room Saturday night, his shoulder harnessed, the speculation began. Did Slingin’ Sammy B. make the wrong decision in returning to college football after winning the Heisman Trophy?
NFL riches awaited Bradford had he declared for the draft. Now, after what amounts to a shoulder separation, Bradford’s status for the 2010 draft, not to mention the rest of the 2009 season, drifts into cloudiness. But draft status is no way to measure the quality of Bradford’s choice. Coming back to OU was not a money decision, at least not according to Bradford’s own testimony. Bradford’s decision to be the Sooner quarterback for a third year and an OU student for a fourth was a quality-of-life issue. He likes the campus life. Likes college football. Likes the pursuit of a finance degree, which so far has produced a transcript sporting one grade below an A. I know. Hard to believe. But such free thinkers exist, even in rare numbers. So analyzing Bradford’s choice in wake of the Brigham Young disaster cannot include NFL considerations. It’s irrelevant what Bradford is missing in the hard knocks of pro football. What counts now is what Bradford could be missing if this AC joint doesn’t heal before the leaves fall. Bradford came back not necessarily to collect bookend Heismans — who really needs two? — but to quarterback the Sooners to greater glory. Another autumn with treasured teammates. Another Big 12 title. Another Big Bowl, only this time with a victory. That appears to be Bradford’s rationale, so that should be the prime criteria in eyeballing the decision. Which leads us to this after one half of Bradford and two halves of the ’09 Sooners: Uh-oh. Even before Coleby Clawson’s crunch of Bradford’s shoulder, you couldn’t blame Harry Heisman for thinking: I came back for this? An offensive line that drew more flags than an Independence Day parade.