Don't Hate College Football Players Who Bail Out on Bowl Games
((Random College Football Photo---No meaning))
So, how many of you think a potential first round NFL Draft Pick should play in a mid-December bowl game in front of an unfortunate 10,000 or so fans in some random far-flung town? I'm serious.
If you follow my ravings on The OSG on CFB podcasts or read many of my past columns, you know how I think the College Football Bowl system is stupid. And there's no incentive---what so ever for a 21-year old likely 1st, 2nd or 3rd round draft pick to risk injury---and his potential future career, by getting hurt in said games.
Probably the most high profile guy to say "Thanks, but no thanks" is West Virginia QB Will Grier. The Mountaineers are slated to play Syracuse in what likely could be a decent bowl game matchup in the "Camping World" bowl December 28th in Orlando.
Grier, for what it is worth to a handful of angry West Virginia faithful---at least was willing to explain his decision in a letter posted by the University:
Grier is by no means the only potential 1st round pick sitting out. Defensive Lineman Ed Oliver from Houston and Rashaan Gary of Michigan won't play either.
Iowa Tight End Noah Fant---possibly the top rated TE in draft will skip the Hawkeyes game in Tampa's Outback Bowl game vs. Mississippi State. Fant may miss his fill of steaks, but he'll be healthy by the time he reaches the NFL Scouting Combine in March.
There are more---at least a dozen College Players have politely declined their invitations to join their teams in a far flung location to play just one more game.
Not playing is not popular among coaches and traditionalists who think you should stay loyal to your teammates and school. Both are extraordinarily old sentiments from a former era where you played until you couldn't and didn't worry about what happened the day after.
But recent draft damaging injuries to guys like former Michigan Tight End Jake Butt and former Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith severely impacted their draft positions and cost them millions in rookie contract money.
Think about it, why in the world would a guy be willing to risk millions to play in a TOTALLY meaningless bowl game if he has professional aspirations.
Almost every bowl game outside the "Pick Six" games and the College Football playoff are now a total and complete exhibition game. The system is set up for those games to mean something, the others are just a way for the Bowl Sponsors and Committees to make money.
For all the crying and whining about the impact stars not playing will have on minor bowl games, think about this: Those same Bowl games are making hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars on these games. The Bowl Committee turns a profit as long as the game has a sponsor because ESPN essentially funds the game.
Add that with the money made on unsold tickets. Yes, schools are required to commit to selling thousands of tickets for games. If a school is given 12,000 tickets to sell to fans, students and alumni and only 5,000 tickets get sold, the school is required to pay the Bowl Committee for the unsold tickets.
Look it up. It's true. It's a complete racket.
For the players, you get to be celebrated, wined and dined for 3-5 days and given a swag bag containing some gift cards and a watch or some sort of electronic gizmo from Best Buy. All things you can get with your $8 million a year NFL contract.
The Bowl system is a relic of a past era where a committee of corporate executives make money for a game nobody attends. Watch a game like say, The "Quick Lane" bowl in Detroit featuring Minnesota and Georgia Tech. There will be 15-20,000 people in 70+thousand seat Ford Field on a Wednesday afternoon to watch what will be a yawner of a game. Both schools will lose money on the game because of the ticket buyback.
But the game will be played, the Bowl Committee will turn a profit and so will ESPN.
Which is the "REAL" reason these games are played.
To steal a very old quote about hating on kids who back out of the games---"Don't hate the Player, Hate the Game".....
Think about it....