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The exciting bowl games are coming up shortly, but it seems many of these games will be without some of college football’s biggest stars. Christian Mccaffrey and Leonard Fournette, both running backs and Heisman candidates coming into the season, are going to skip their teams’ bowl games.
Mccaffrey plays Friday, December 30th against University of North Carolina in the Sun Bowl and Fournette plays Saturday, December 31 in the Citrus Bowl against Louisville.
It is obvious, both of these kids had expectations to make it to a National Championship game, but both teams fell short. There is no question that they would be playing if a championship was on the line, but it is not. The Citrus Bowl and Sun Bowl are obviously nothing too special for Stanford and LSU. On a national level and in the scheme of the program, this game doesn’t matter. However, it matters to these players and it should matter to Fournette and Mccaffrey because it is the last chance for them to wear their university’s uniform. It is a tough decision that has many good points for either side of the argument.
Why They Shouldn’t Play
Both of these players have given everything to their programs. They wanted nothing more than to win a championship, but have come up short. In addition, both of these guys are going to be high draft picks, both projected go in the first round (according to Walter Football). Fournette projected to be a top 5 pick and Mccaffrey a late first round pick.
They have very good shots of being productive NFL players and possibly becoming stars in the NFL. A top pick in the NFL draft will come away with more than 5 million dollars a year. Also, the players have a chance at millions more on contracts after the draft, if they turn out to be productive.
An injury, especially to a running back, would likely result in a steep fall in the draft. Falling out of the first round would cost them millions of dollars and shorten the contract length by a year, leaving guaranteed money on the table.
There has also been a recent history of extremely talented players getting hurt late in their college season. Most notably, and recently, was Jaylon Smith from Notre Dame (top 10 pick fell into the 2nd round, drafted by the Cowboys), and Myles Jack (a top 10 pick as well who fell into the 2nd round, drafted by Jacksonville). Both of these players had terrible knee injuries and it cost them millions. Anywhere from 3-5 million dollars a year depending on where they would have been drafted (assuming they were both top 10 picks instead of early 2nd round). This money difference is absolutely huge, and there have been recent examples that can scare Fournette and Mccaffrey from playing.
Not to mention that running backs are far more likely to be hurt than linebackers. It only takes one play to cost them 10-20 million dollars.
Ezekiel Elliot Twitter: @EzekielElliot
Why They Should Play:
Obviously, these bowl games are not huge games, but not playing is a selfish decision. By not playing a player lets his teammates down and separates himself from them. It gives the impression that he is better than the rest of his teammates and only he has a future that is worth preserving. It is a team sport and a player who skips their bowl game is putting themselves before the team. Even though I can’t speak for every player, I’d assume they’d want one last chance to put on their college uniform. I know, now in college, I’d kill to be able to step on the basketball court one last time for my high school. I’d never dream of skipping a game that I didn’t have too, which ties into what Ezekiel Elliot said above (he did a good job covering the main argument for playing).
In an ideal world, I would want everyone to play their last game if they can, but I completely understand their decision to not play. Money and financial stability are on the line. To guarantee financial stability over a pretty much meaningless game makes sense. However, it is rude to your team and university to not play. I wish they were playing obviously for their teammates but also for themselves. Playing in college is a special honor and to not soak up every opportunity to do so is a bummer. Nevertheless, I would want them to play, but I don’t think it is a huge issue because not one teammate has spoken out against Mccaffrey or Fournette. Therefore, it means the team is on board with it, (the most important aspect of the decision) so I’m fine with them making the decision of not playing because of the recent history of injuries in bowl games and the potential to lose tens of millions of dollars.
Here is a nice piece from Colin Cowherd’s the Herd. It starts with Joel Klatt supporting the players’ decision to skip the bowl game. The middle shows Chris Carter who is completely against the players skipping the bowl games. The argument has many sides and is a tough one without a right answer, but this clip shows the argument for both sides.