Bradford never close to leaving is what we see from the mountaintops

Wednesday, January 21st 2009, 2:12 pm
By: News 9

Breckenridge - Taking a few days off before plunging into '09. Pursuing Web sites up here is nice way to start the day. I love my home state but pristine snowy mountains edge out the terrain that led to the formation of the Flat Earth Society.

Kansas City Star columnist Blair Kerkoff wrote an interesting piece yesterday about OU QB Sam Bradford. The veteran Big 12 expert spoke with Sam's father, Kent, who revealed what the OU coaches told me two months ago. Sam was not leaving early for the NFL and it wasn't really a difficult decision.

While coaches have often told me players were returning only to see them leave early, I was leery as we all watched the eventual Heisman winner zoom to the top of several mock drafts.

Along with many people, it seemed to me Bradford would have a hard time turning down the $50 million NFL bucks, TE Jermaine Gresham would most likely leave early as he would be a mid-first round pick, surging DL Gerald McCoy would have to take a hard look as he'd become the number one prospect at his position and a mid-first pick and OL Trent Williams would have a tough choice to make as the NFL people were indeed evaluating him the way the OU coaches had during the past couple of seasons at OU.

Here is a part of what Kerkoff wrote:

"Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was never close to leaving college... 'He wanted to come back to OU for at least one more year all along,' said Sam's father, Kent Bradford. ...Felt he still had plenty of room to improve his game and get bigger and stronger before he made the jump..."

"Dad did the legwork ...but the process 'left plenty of questions... no definitive answers, but merely opinions,' Kent Bradford said. And opinions in December and January don't mean much when several of the teams at the top of the draft are also going through management or coaching changes."

"Kent gave his son the results after the Sooners' 24-14 loss to Florida in the BCS national championship game. No minds were changed."

Of particular interest to me:

1. Kent did homework and indeed did not report findings until after the bowl game. Kent respectfully said "not now" when friends asked him to get Sam to autograph memorabilia. Point: All attention was on the BCS title game-and Bradford played like it.

2. It was acknowledged that many of the top teams were going through management/coaching changes and decisions made in December and January would be risky.

3. Listening to veteran NFL types and respected and experienced football people outside the NFL instead of greedy agents. The NFL people indicated a potential high to mid-first round selection, whereas agents would have sold Bradford-the way they have former Sooners who fled to the NFL and countless others around the country-and the Bradfords listened.

4. When pragmatically analyzed, the hazy material became clear to Sam. Leaving a terrific situation in Norman, with a burning desire to get back to championship games, did not make sense. Especially when it was anything but clear cut that he'd be a top five selection-the apparent turning point in the decision process.

5. The bottom line was that the mature-beyond-his-years Sooners QB knew all along he needed to get bigger, stronger and become overall more equipped to play on Sundays.

6. Kerkoff, one of the really good guys and really good writers, got the quote of quotes from Sam's dad: "'He wanted to come back to OU for at least one more year all along'."

Finally, almost as startling to me as people getting all worked up about Tim Tebow's alleged "critical decision" to return to school to seek a second Heisman and third national title at Florida when he was projected as a second to third round selection with no one even knowing what position he would play, is the latest on the itinerary of former Missouri QB Chase Daniel.

Daniel, by many the preseason Heisman favorite on the preseason national championship favorites, is spending Thursday at ESPN--the World Wide Leader of Sports. Apparently there is something to his appeal that people in the Midwest-and presumably around the rest of the country-just don't see.

The Daniel itinerary has him bouncing to ten different ESPN programs, beginning with Mike and Mike in the Morning at 8:25 and ending with a 2:40 session on the Hotline.

I have one simple question. Why? He sure isn't warm and fuzzy and one to make channel surfers to stop and say, "Whoa, who is this guy?" Second, he plummeted on a downward spiral from Heisman favorite to the fifth best QB in the Big 12-right behind Tebow, according to OU's talent evaluator/Dom Franks-faster and farther than any player in memory.

The 6-footer is listed by respected draft gurus as No. 21. Not 21 in the draft. The 21st QB! That's16 spots behind Rhett Bomar, 8 picks below A/M's optioneer Stephen McGhee and a few spots ahead of Arkansas QB Casey Dick.