Luck of the draw
His frequent flyer miles membership is literally off the chart.
But on this rare occasion, Oliver Luck’s Wednesday flight to the Big Apple was strictly all pleasure and no business.
West Virginia University’s second-year athletic director and former Mountaineers’ quarterback maintains he’ll be Manhattan’s proudest papa tonight when son, Andrew, is announced as No. 1 selection in the NFL Draft.
“When I saw him play in high school, I thought Andrew had a chance of becoming a quality quarterback at the college level,” Oliver Luck told us over the phone Tuesday from his office in Morgantown.
“Then, after watching him the past three seasons at Stanford, I felt Andrew possessed the necessary skills to play in the NFL.”
It goes without saying Ollie had an early premonition young Andrew was a grid star in the making. Otherwise, he may have signed with Manchester United and become a back page sensation in the British tabloids.
Andrew spent much of his formative years abroad, attending The American School in London with Oliver serving in a number of capacities for Europe’s World League of American Football.
Oliver Luck became general manager of two German franchises (Frankfurt, Rhein) before agreeing to take over as league president.
But with Andrew approaching his teen years, Oliver opted to return stateside. In 2001, he was sworn in as Chief Executive Officer of the Houston Sports Authority.
Andrew would eventually enroll at Stratford High in Houston and become a prep phenom, throwing for 7,139 career yards and 53 touchdowns. He rushed for another 2,085 yards and was soon a heavily-recruited commodity.
With dozens of offers on the table, Andrew pared the list to Stanford, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Virginia and Northwestern.
Both Andrew and Dad were in agreement then-Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh made the decision a virtual no-brainer.
“Not only was Jim an excellent football coach, his playing experience at the position (QB) was instrumental in aiding Andrew’s college career,” Oliver related. “No one person played a more prominent role in Andrew’s development than Coach Harbaugh.”
While Andrew shattered a number of PAC 10 passing marks, one statistic stands miles above all others.
In his final two seasons with the Cardinal, Luck completed over a staggering 70 percent of his passes, going a combined 551-of-776 for 6,855 yards and 69 touchdowns.
Even more impressive is the fact Luck threw only 22 career picks in over 1,000 attempts.
Those numbers and the young man’s adept leadership skills were more than enough to convince Colts’ general manager Ryan Grigson to officially announce this week the 22-year-old Luck will be the heir apparent to future Hall of Famer and now Denver Broncos’ property Peyton Manning.
Oliver, in turn, was highly touted coming out of Morgantown in 1981. In fact, Oliver Luck was projected the 1982 draft’s No. 3 quarterback behind only Jim McMahon and Art Schlichter.
Selected by the Houston Oilers with the 17th pick of the second round (44th overall), Oliver enjoyed moderate Sunday success during a relatively brief tenure.
“I think one of the biggest differences between today and 30 years ago is the fact a vast majority of quarterbacks drafted then normally were in a two-to-three year learning process,” Oliver stated. “Many of today’s players are being asked to step in and be ‘the man’ right away.
“I’m sure Andrew is coming in much better prepared than I was. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to excel his first season. Everything about the NFL is bigger, faster and stronger.”
Nevertheless, tonight the old man has that rare opportunity to experience an ‘A-Ha’ moment for the ages.
“It’s going to be very special, all right,” Oliver confirmed.
Gibson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org