There usually isn’t a ton to talk about in college football in early June. Spring ball is long past, fall ball is still months away, and even sideshows like media days don’t start for another month. That means that unless it’s recruiting related, no news is good news for college football programs. That remained true today, as Oklahoma football was hit with some news that could have a massive impact on their 2018 season.
— MLB (@MLB) June 5, 2018
That’s right, Kyler Murray, the Sooners starting quarterback, was drafted with the ninth pick in the first-year player draft by the Oakland Athletics. Now, this wasn’t unexpected by any means. Murray is an excellent baseball player, and was projected as a high draft pick for months now. However, the ninth pick is much higher than expected, and may throw a wrench in the decision-making process for Murray.
Why? Well, to put it simply, money. If Murray signs with the Athletics, he’d make nearly $5 million dollars. That kind of money would give pause to any reasonable 20 year old, despite anything that may have been said in the past.
This is all so interesting because baseball probably is Murray’s best shot at seeing that kind of money as a professional athlete. While he may be a very good college football player this season, NFL teams aren’t exactly jumping at the thought of drafting a run-first, 5-foot-10 quarterback. If he stays in football, his paycheck won’t be anywhere near as large as $4.7 million, and that has to be a huge factor in this decision.
A’s take Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with No. 9 overall pick; potential Heisman candidate still plans to play football this fall, but that might not preclude him from signing to play baseball: https://t.co/39BM1rHNm5 via @sfchronicle
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) June 5, 2018
As you can see, it’s been reported already that Murray wants to play football this season, and then leave for the Athletics next spring. While this sounds like the best possible option, I’m not sure if I believe it. I can’t imagine that the A’s would be thrilled with their top pick spending the fall playing the most physical game on earth, as an undersized quarterback. Throw in Murray’s hamstring issues, and this seems like a situation with too much risk for the A’s to be okay with.
Obviously, the only thing that really matters here is what Kyler wants to do. He’ll be making the final decision, and his choice will be based on his values and what he wants to accomplish as athlete. If he wants to start getting paid, and have a good shot at playing at the highest level, he’ll pick baseball. If he wants to prove himself as a football player, he’ll stay at Oklahoma.
With all things being considered, the answer should be easy. Kyler Murray should forgo the remainder of his eligibility at Oklahoma, and sign with the Athletics. Injury issues, the NFL being a long shot, and Murray just being better at baseball than he is at football are all important, but this all comes down to one big thing. Money. Murray isn’t allowed to earn money from his work as a college football player. He’ll probably never earn money from football. He can earn money from baseball.
As much as it may hurt his pride to walk away from football, it’s the right decision to make. There’s no real reason to play a sport that can very easily cause head trauma if you have a golden ticket worth $5 million in a much less harmful sport. Murray would honestly be pretty foolish to do anything else.
So, what would this mean for Oklahoma? Well, we’ll cross that road when we get to it, but obviously, it wouldn’t be good news for Lincoln Riley and the Sooners. The quarterback position would likely go to Austin Kendall, a more traditional, pass first quarterback. He’s solid, but obviously not as good as Murray.
Like I said, we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves. Murray will probably end up playing this fall, and leaving in the Spring. If the A’s are okay with that, and Murray is comfortable with the injury risk, then more power to him. However, it would be very sad to see him miss out on so much money because of a freak injury, and that risk, to me, is too much to handle. My opinion on this doesn’t matter though. The only opinion that matters is Kyler’s. The next few days will be huge in determining the outlook, both for his career, and Oklahoma’s season.