Opinion: If you want college football players to play in bowl games, make them matter
23rd December 2018

Stop the romanticism. Rip off the amber-hued glasses. Forget the nostalgia, the traditionalism, the notion that college football is somehow different. 

It's not.  

It’s a business. It’s just that players haven’t treated it as such. 

Until now.  

If Michigan linebacker Devin Bush Jr. wants to skip the Peach Bowl and get ready for the NFL draft? He should. If MSU cornerback Justin Layne wants to skip the Redbox Bowl and do the same? He should, too.  

You can hate it. You can wish every eligible — and healthy — player available would suit up for whatever bowl game your team makes. You can pine for the era when those players did suit up. 

You know, like in 2015, the year before running backs Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) and Leonard Fournette (LSU) skipped their bowl games and set off weeks of hand-wringing about the demise of the team ethos, sportsmanship, sacrifice and integrity. 

But none of that will change the fact that many of the best players in college football will no longer be taking part of college football bowl games.  

The question is: why? 

Actually, we know why. Bush and Layne and U-M junior defensive end, Rashan Gary, and U-M senior running back, Karan Higdon, and 14 other future pros made the choice because of money, including West Virginia quarterback, Will Grier.  

The better question might be: why now? 

When McCaffrey and Fournette chose to skip their bowl games two years ago, it was the second year of the College Football Playoff. And, even then, the bowl games already felt diminished.  

McCaffrey weighed the risk of injury against glory in the Sun Bowl and chose to protect himself. Because, really, does the Sun Bowl matter? 

To its organizers and sponsors, yes. To the folks who earn by working the stadium and the grounds, obviously. To the schools who get a payout? Sure. To the coaches who crave the extra month of practice and the chance to meet a clause in their contract that gives them a bonus for making a bowl game? Of course.  

But do games like that matter to the players? To the fans? To the students who attend the schools and have little hope of making the game? 

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