A New Trend Emerges in College Bowl Games


There has been an increasing trend of college student athletes skipping College Bowl games. (TESSA VAN BERGEN/THE OBSERVER ARCHIVES)


As the football season comes to an end, college football is sparking much debate. More and more players are starting to wonder if it’s worth playing in the bowl games which are scheduled at the end of the season. The games that they are electing not to play in will negatively affect their teams in the long run. Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, running backs from Louisiana State University (LSU) and Stanford University, respectively, were both on the injury report. The reason listed was, “Lack of interest.”

Both Fournette and McCaffrey decided to sit out in anticipation of the National Football League (NFL) draft. Fournette led the pack by announcing his decision on Dec. 16, 2016. Three days later, McCaffrey tweeted that he would sit out as well. A day after McCaffrey made his decision, Shock Linwood, a senior from Baylor University, elected not to play in the Cactus Bowl in order to focus on his draft preparation. None of the players were willing to risk getting hurt before they could enter professional football. Just last year, Jaylon Smith, a linebacker from Notre Dame, was supposed to be a top five draft pick. However, in the Fiesta Bowl, he tore his ACL and MCL, and was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round. He was projected to make $20 million in a four year contract, but instead was given $6.4 million for the same amount of time.

There are many different opinions regarding whether players should sit out for the bowl games. Head football coach at Fordham University, Andrew Breiner, explained, “I think players skipping what they view as less important bowls is bad for college football. That being said, everyone’s situation is different. If those players feel that the risk of injury outweighs finishing the season with their team, that is a personal decision.”

Some people feel that all the players who would normally play on a college football team should always play in every game. They made a commitment to their team and to their school. Most times, the players’ schools give them a full scholarship in exchange for their participation in all of the games. Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys running back, tweeted, “All these young guys deciding to skip their bowl games. I would do anything to play one more time with my brothers in that scarlet and gray”. However, he later amended his statement, saying that since Fournette and McCaffrey were injured, they had a right to sit out.

The bowl games are shown on national television. Many fans who go to the games are upset when they show up to the last game and see that their favorite player is not playing. Many colleges make a lot of money off of their football programs. Texas University, the University of Tennessee, and LSU are the top three colleges that make the most money. Colleges and fans are worried that if more and more stars sit out, watching second-string student athletes will lower ratings.

However, some people believe that it is up to the player to choose whether he should play in the bowl games or not. Their teammates and coaches understand their decision. A scouting director for an NFL team anonymously stated that if they got hurt, it could change the rest of their lives. Jordan Meltzer FCLC ’20, said, “It’s smart… when you’re thinking about your future, your health comes first. If you’re keeping your future in line for both the health and the money, it’s appropriate.”

The bowls that players are choosing to sit out in are not part of the regular season. If this becomes a trend, it raises the issue of how many more star players will be sitting out on bowl games in upcoming years.