Sensational Starling Puts an End to Bubba Watch 2011

By at August 16, 2011 | 1:23 PM | Print

It was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? Okay, maybe not for everyone.

Late Monday Night, Bubba Starling ended his flirtation with Nebraska athletics for now, at least when he signed a three-year contract, $7.5 million contract with the Kansas City Royals. The money and length of the contract’s irrelevant. What’s interesting is that Husker Nation was glued to Twitter and other parts of the Internet for “Bubba Watch”.

By not signing with Kansas City, he could’ve become the guy who bucked the Royals for his love of college athletics and a chance to be the big man on campus. Instead, he followed the money and Scott Boras has another feather in his cap. To be honest, it’s rather disappointing.

This wasn’t just about the Nebraska football team, mind you. Yes, offensive coordinator Tim Beck would’ve loved to plug him into a very talented, yet young offensive backfield with Taylor Martinez, Jamal Turner, Rex Burkhead and others.

For better or worse, Bubba signed off on attempting to be a stud in Werner Park in Omaha, taking the trip down I-29 in Iowa and leading the Royals back to greatness in the American League’s Central division.

Oh, but what could’ve been in Lincoln? Much like the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know. There’s a chance that Bubba could come back at the end of the deal a la Florida State’s Chris Weinke circa 2000. Unfortunately, the fact is that many fans have soured on the thought of Bubba playing.

Some feel that Bubba is nothing but an overblown version of current Nebraska wide receiver and outfielder Khiry Cooper. Cooper is different, though. He was a project from the start. As Husker fans found out, Khiry hasn’t gotten a much opportunity on both sides of I-80 to show his football and baseball prowess for one reason or another.

Bubba is the orange to Khiry’s apple in terms of comparison. He would be an immediate difference maker on the baseball field and he could make a run at the starting quarterback job this season. Right away? Probably not considering he’d missed a fair amount of time in fall camp.

However, the necessary concepts of an offense that Beck claims is simpler to understand would likely have taken hold by conference play. If Martinez struggles in 2011, having Bubba waiting in the wings would’ve provided the Cornhuskers with a safety net.

With Starling’s departure, Beck’s quarterback roster is set. Taylor doesn’t have to worry about another freshman phenom behind him. Brion Carnes and Ron Kellogg now become the official challengers to Martinez’s throne. The decisions of recruits Tommy Armstrong and Devin Fuller now carry even more weight for this cycle’s recruiting class, too.

Many fans dismissed this entire affair as Scott Boras milking the Royals for every penny. That could’ve been the case, but at the same time, the Starling family didn’t need the money as a motivating factor.

Jimbo and Deb Starling are great parents. With their support and that of sister Jamie, the decision became tougher for Bubba. He’ll get his college degree no matter what, you can bet on that. It’s hard to think that Starling could’ve made a bad decision with a family and support system like he has. You can’t blame him for going, but it would have been exciting with him around.

Fare thee well, Bubba Starling. Tear it up in Idaho Falls, Wilmington, Springdale and Omaha. Husker Nation will still be watching.

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