Monday, December 7, 2009

Decision Time: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame

Mark Zavodnyik

Why Jimmy Clausen made the right decision to turn pro.

1. Unlikely senior year will be more productive:
Notre Dame is a program currently in a state of significant transition. If Clausen had chosen to return to Notre Dame next year he would have to learn a new system under a new coach. This would be a stark contrast to the relationship he had with the recently fired Charlie Weis. Also, Notre Dame will likely have to replace three starters along the offensive line next season. It is hard to imagine Clausen having a more productive senior season with a new coach, new system and re-built offensive line.

2. Nothing more to accomplish: Unlike most quarterbacks, Clausen has gained a wealth of experience in just three years of college football. Since making his debut in the first game of the 2007 season, Clausen has gone on to make 34 starts. In that time he has proved to be a remarkably accurate quarterback who rarely makes mental errors. He finished this season ranked second in the nation in passing efficiency. Additionally, this year Clausen has shown toughness in his ability to play with injury (turf toe) and leadership in his ability to lead the Fighting Irish to multiple fourth-quarter comeback victories.

3. There could be a Rookie Wage Scale in 2011:
As NFL players and owners begin to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, a wage scale curbing the value of rookie contracts could be on the horizon in 2011. This year there could very well be an influx in the number of players giving up their final year of college eligibility in order to enter the NFL draft before that wage scale is enacted. As a potential first-round pick, Clausen surely understands that the #9 overall pick in 2010 will get a more valuable contract than the same pick in 2011 (or even a higher one).

Zavodnyik’s Take: Clausen is one of college football’s most accurate and intelligent quarterbacks. He will likely be one of the first three quarterbacks taken in the upcoming draft. With so much uncertainty at Notre Dame, this was probably an easy decision for Clausen and his family.

Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame Sports Information