College bowl season has arrived and I, for one, couldn’t be happier to see the cream of the crop in the… Raycom Media Camellia Bowl and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. I mean the chance to see a couple of 6-6 teams in the AutoNation Cure Bowl really gets me hyped up to see mediocre teams rewarded with a chance to play in a bowl game that only their school fan base cares about.
I mean, this is what bowl games have been reduced to now that we have the college football playoff. Only three bowl games truly matter, and the rest, well, they’re there for journalists to cover and school fan bases to go nuts over. I’m sure a 6-7 Hawaii team playing in their own bowl game is great for the school and fans, but why should anyone in Iowa care about the Hawai’i Bowl?
In the past couple of weeks three high profile running backs, Leonard Fournette of LSU, Christian McCaffery of Stanford, and Shock Linwood of Baylor, have all announced they are not playing in their teams’ bowl game in order to prepare for the NFL.
Some people can see why they’d want to sit out. If a guy like Fournette, who is all but being mocked at a Top-10 selection in the NFL draft, tears his knee, he’s risking his professional future for a bowl game that really doesn’t mean a whole lot in today’s college football landscape. McCaffery is in the same situation as Fournette, a potential first round pick who has carried a huge workload the last two years for Stanford, why should he risk his future for the Sun Bowl?
There’s no reason why it should matter if the game doesn’t. Yes, they are taking chances away from their teams, but LSU has shown they can win without Fournette. Stanford faces a not so great North Carolina defense in the Sun Bowl so not having their best player might not matter much. As for Linwood, well, Baylor checked out of the season about two months ago and hasn’t shown much effort for a long while so I doubt he’d make that much of a difference in their contest.
All three of these teams had playoff dreams when the season began. Baylor and LSU were both considered dark horses for the playoff, and neither of them had the team to make it. Again, if the CFP is the ultimate goal, why would a top tier program want to bother with a bowl game that isn’t contending for a national championship?
We’re at too many meaningless bowl games these days because TV wants advertiser money, and businesses can throw their name onto a bowl game to create money for themselves. That’s why every bowl has a name attached to it these days.
Remember when it was just the Rose Bowl? Now Penn State and USC, who both enjoyed great in season turnarounds, are playing in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. The Orange Bowl has Capital One sponsoring it. You cannot sit and see the purity in these bowl games anymore. There is no pride for team. It’s about going to a game to make money for TV and big business and these players aren’t seeing a dime for it.
They get a gift basket worth up to $500 for playing a big time sponsored bowl game. The school gets a good chunk of change for sending the team to the game. Coaches get six or seven figure bonuses. So why should it matter if a few players want to secure their own finical future?
It doesn’t. Let them prepare for the next phase of their career how they want to. The school, businesses and TV make money off of every single player that puts on the pads in college. Let them worry about getting theirs in the next level. How about we focus on something that matters a little more than a handful of kids skipping a bowl game?