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Sports Business

Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen makes colossal financial mistake

April 23, 2010
KEYWORDS Sports Business

For all you kids out there considering leaving college early to pursue your dreams, there are lots of reasons to stay until you get your sheepskin.

Let’s roll out Exhibit A today: Jimmy Clausen.

Despite spending most of Thursday night with ESPN’s Erin Andrews, Clausen’s face got longer and longer as the night dragged on. Clausen could live with Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford going No. 1 overall. But the Denver Bronco’s selection of Tim Tebow at No. 25 was a real kick in the gut.

You could feel the air go out of Clausen’s living room (which was being shot live by ESPN) as the first round ended. Clausen saw his financial fortunes deflated as well.

His decision to leave ND early will cost him an easy $10 million (and probably a lot more) over the next four years, assuming he goes in the top 10 picks of the second round. You don't need a Notre Dame finance degree to figure how painful that is to swallow.

Bradford is expected to sign a deal worth between $40 million to $45 million. Clausen will be lucky to get a deal one-fourth that size. You can't find a draft expert that doesn't now think Clausen would have made bushels more money had he swallowed his pride and played for a new coach for one year at ND.

Clausen wouldn't have to be the No. 1 pick next year to turn out financially better off. A top 15 pick next year would assure that. And you have to believe that another year under the Golden Dome (and one with a college coach that actually knows how to coach college football) would have assured that would happen.

Clausen's statistics were solid, but in the end he really didn't accomplish anything. Notre Dame certainly didn't compete for any national titles. Not even close. ND wouldn't have even competed for the Big Ten title had the school been in that conference. Heaven knows the Irish couldn't hang with USC with Clausen under center.

Under Kelly, it could have been different, but we'll never know. Clearly scouts were bothered by what they saw.

So bothered in fact, Tebow, a dubious pro prospect at best, got bumped above Clausen. I guess winning, regardless of the level of play, does in fact matter. Now, the biggest remaining question is if Texas' Colt McCoy, who also is still available, will go before Clausen.

By the way, there's no truth to the rumor that either Clausen or McCoy have agreed to a guest appearance on The Biggest Loser.

Many were stunned by Clausen's rapid fall from grace. None other than ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who has more draft knowledge under his well-oiled hairdo than just about anyone, had Clausen as the No. 4 overall pick going into last night's NFL draft.

Kiper looked almost as forlorn as Clausen. They could probably both use a hug from Andrews.

You could almost read Kiper's mind, saying, "After all these years, how could all these NFL scouts and generl managers doubt me." I couldn't help but think of former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Tobin, who once uttered, "Who the h--- is Mel Kiper Jr.?"

Kiper wasn't alone. Nine of 10 NFL draft analysts had Clausen going no later than No. 9 to Buffalo. Note to youngsters hoping for NFL futures: Look to actual NFL front office types for your info, not draft experts. I know they're not as sexy as Mel and Todd McShay, but they might actually hold the keys to useful career-decision-making information.

Clearly most NFL GMs think Clausen is more in the mold of Brady Quinn than Joe Montana. And honestly,  I'm not sure even a year of college could change that.

Where Clausen ends up at this point is anybodys guess. But my bet is if Claussen could have one big do-over, he'd head back to his South Bend dorm room, throw his arms around Kelly, and hope another year throwing passes under Touchdown Jesus would work miracles for his financial fortunes.

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