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Get off my lawn! ESPN talking heads dissing players opting out of bowl games is beyond stupid

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Every person who's held the title "analyst" on TV has probably had at least one bad take in their broadcasting career, it happens. Your live on TV and you start to go down a rabbit hole of a conversation on live TV and before you know it, you've said something you immediately regret.

I don't think New Years Day on ESPN'S College Gameday show that the conversation between Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard will qualify as one of those times.

The two rolled into a discussion about college football players opting out of bowl games and, um, let's just say it did not go in a very productive direction.

The discussion at hand basically accused the current generation of players as being soft and not devoted enough to the game or their teammates to play in bowl games. Not the College Football Playoff games where everyone played and there was a reward at hand, but bowl games.

It was the ultimate "Get off my lawn" moment by a couple of guys who played college football in a long since past, bygone era.


It strikes me as funny and completely hypocritical for a variety of reasons.

  1. The company they (Herbstreit and Howard) work for (ESPN), owns and or produces almost every non-CFP bowl game that exits.

  2. When both guys were players, there were somewhere around 16 bowl games. This past season, there were 43.

Being that I'm older than either of these guys, even I'm totally floored they both said this live on television. I fully realize the world as we know has changed since my childhood. And unlike so many others who think things should be done because they've always "been" done, I believe change is inevitable and should be embraced.

The fact is that college football's bowl games are a crooked hodge-podge of thrown together events in random places that exist purely for the profit of the bowl committees and ESPN.


Don't come at me with this "reward" bullshit about playing in bowl games. Yeah, sure, there was a time you could have considered a bowl bid a "reward" for a successful season. But when we have multiple matchups featuring 6-6 teams playing each other in places like Frisco, Texas in mid December, where's the reward. You are putting teams that are .500/mediocre in a game to fill a programming slot.

Bowl games in the modern era do not make money for the schools that play in them. The university is responsible for the travel cost and tickets for sparsely attended events in oversized stadiums. By the time they get their "payoff" from the bowl in most cases, the school breaks even or loses money.

They don't "make money" for the host cities and while they often make donations to local charities, it's only a fraction of the money the games take in. The rest--yup, it goes to the committee members. Those committee members are often local business executives who receive a six-figure payment for being the "head of a committee".

As for the players---if you are someone who's a likely NFL Draft pick, why would you play in a game like "The New Mexico Bowl"??

Seriously, why?

What do you get out of it other than the risk of an injury? Don't give me the romanticized version by saying you play for your teammates. In the modern era with the amount of money going around, players don't hate their teammates for securing their futures. Just ask them, I guarantee they'll tell you that they fully support guys securing their futures.

On New Years Day this year, much was made about Ole Miss QB Matt Corral getting hurt during the Sugar Bowl. Corral decided to play for his teammates which was great. If the leg/ankle injury he suffered benches him for the next three months, you can wave his 1st round draft status bye-bye. The difference in pay between 1st and later round picks is astronomical.

My point here is this: The way the college football post season is now set up, bowl games no longer need to exist on a practical level.

If you're going to keep them around and it appears the CFP committee and ESPN have too much to lose if they go away, then call them what they really are.

Exhibition games. The games should not count against a teams record. The games should be a chance for teams to get extra practices in with players who will be on the roster the following season. Let them use the opportunity and time to make those players better so the next season they can compete for a playoff berth.

But it won't happen.

Too many coaches and administrators have bonuses built in to their contract for bowl appearances or wins. And just ask NC State head coach Dave Doeren about that. He's been whining ever since the Wolfpack's bowl game with UCLA got canceled at the last minute.

The reason he's been whining? Had NC State played and won the game, he would have gotten paid a $50,000 bonus.

None of his players would have gotten a dime.

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