- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Bubba Starling had millions of reasons to sign with the Kansas City Royals. He had really only one reason to play football for Nebraska: his love of the game.
Hey, love gets you only so far. Starling is a Royal. Would you turn down $7.5 million, as it has been reported Starling agreed to over three years, for a chance to play quarterback for the Cornhuskers?
Starling's decision isn't the least bit surprising and became even less so when he and his family decided he shouldn't practice with Nebraska before the Aug. 15 deadline to sign with the Royals. Especially with agent Scott Boras leading the charge, Starling was going to get a big contract offer. And although I do believe he really wanted to experience college football, this kind of money ensures the future for him and his family. By staying with the Huskers, he risked injury or poor performance on the baseball field that could have reduced his earning potential.
Besides, football will still be there for him if the baseball thing doesn't work out. We've seen guys such as Chris Weinke, Brandon Weeden and Joe Bauserman come back and play college football after spending time in the minor leagues. Starling is a higher-rated prospect than those guys, but there's no guarantee he can learn to hit a major league cut fastball. Adding some age and experience, along with a nice portfolio, never hurts.
Starling is an amazing athlete, but this might not hurt Nebraska in the short term. Sophomore Taylor Martinez is entrenched as the starter, and Brion Carnes is a redshirt freshman right behind him. While Starling would have added depth and competition and possibly would have beaten out those two guys down the road, the Huskers are well situated for the next few years at that position.
Coach Bo Pelini seemed to take the news in stride in his official statement after the announcement:
"Everyone associated with our football program at Nebraska wishes Bubba nothing but the best in his future with the Kansas City Royals organization. I know this decision has been very difficult for Bubba and his family, as it would be for anyone in his position. In the end, Bubba was in a win-win situation regardless of his choice, and we respect the decision he has made. I personally will root for Bubba in every game except when he plays against the Indians!”