Smart, Savvy Samardzija

By Adam Caparell - January 19, 2007

To see Jeff Samardzija go the route of professional baseball - over professional football - shouldn’t have come as a total shock. For the sake of health and money, he made a smart, smart decision to go with a career in baseballl. The Cubs signed the former Notre Dame wide receiver for $10 millions over 5 seasons Friday, putting an end to his football career that was destine for the NFL.

But $10 million isn’t too bad for a guy who has yet to throw a pitch above the Single A level and has a ways to go before making it to the majors. Although from all accounts Samardzija’s major league debut is only a matter of when, not if.

Samardzija’s inner businessman really burst onto the scene with this decision. He’s set himself up nicely for life, even if he never reaches the majors with that $10 million he’s going to receive. Baseball contracts are guaranteed and an NFL contract is not. An injury could curb Samardzija’s earning potential in the blink of an eye in football. Get hurt before the draft and he could have slipped way down the board, never regained his former playing level and cost himself millions. Get hurt before you can get a big contract with guaranteed signing bonus, and he could very well have been kicking himself for the rest of his life.

Now he can avoid the physical beating he would have been bound to take on the gridiron, make sure his elbow doesn’t blow out and look to rack up an insanely large free agent contract in about six-eight years when he’s on the open market. If he’s any good by that time he’s going to get at least 70 million the way the market broke out this off-season in baseball.

His earning potential was always going to be higher in baseball than in football. There’s no cap on salaries in baseball, there’s more visibility since he won't be wearing a helmet and – if he stays with the Cubs – he’s going to be in one of the biggest media markets in the country.

You found out how smart Jeff Samardzija was four years ago when he got into Notre Dame. We found out today how savvy he is.

- What is going on in Arkansas? The program is a mess right now. People are coming and going by the day. AD Frank Broyles and Houston Nutt’s decisions are angering the Razorback fans to no end and their star QB of the future is leaving the team – or is he?

After asking for his release from his scholarship earlier this week, Mitch Mustain has reportedly reappeared and re-enrolled in classes as of Friday. Chances are he’s going to be out of there by fall and probably wind up at Tulsa where his former high school coach and offensive coordinator just landed. But why is he back in school where he seemingly didn’t want to be? It just gets stranger and stranger in Fayetteville by the day.

- Miami and Florida State season openers in the ACC are history. Florida State and Clemson will kick off the 2007 season when they face off in a nationally televised game Labor Day. The “Bowden Bowl” will be earlier this year than ever, but it’s good to get some new blood into the conference’s season opener, especially after last year’s awful performance by the Hurricanes and Seminoles in an all-time offensive struggle.

At least we’ll see one team be able to run the ball. Clemson’s C.J. Spiller and James Davis will be as good as any backfield combo in the country next year.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 06:28 PM on January 19, 2007

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