In one succinct statement, Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post summed up what is likely true about the entire Montee Ball announcement that he's going back to Wisconsin. Brandt writes via Twitter, "Montee Ball returning to Badgers is admirable and costly: RBs have shortest shelf life in football, very limited earning capacity." In short, the decision is bad for business but good for whatever reasons Ball has for returning to college.
Not every decision needs to be based on money, so in many ways, Ball's return to school is refreshing, as is Matt Barkley. So often, an athlete doesn't work fully on his game at the collegiate level and is lost in the transition to the pros. Other times, a kid can finish his degree and enjoy a senior season and the entire scholastic experience. That said, there are downsides for Ball's return to school.
How much more can he do that he hasn't already done. As Brandt noted, the risk involved could cost him thousands or even millions depending on his draft stock. Since he was likely not a first round selection, it would not have been as much as Barkley is risking, but for a running back, he still has to think about what Brandt calls "shelf life."
Ball is still likely to make some money and his abilities will eventually make their way to the NFL. But there's something to be said for seizing the moment and Ball put up monster numbers in 2011. This could be his opportunity.