Players skipping bowl games shows the whole system is broken

By ExtendingthePlay
Dec. 20, 2016

Bowl season is upon us. An annual ceremonial conclusion to the college football season.

It has everything you would want: Winning teams, non-conference match-ups, and the final games of some of the nation’s best players.

Oh, wait, except not the part about the best players. Oops.

Apparently, if you are a top tier player, bowl games aren’t important enough to you. Ha, silly me.

With players like Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and LSU’s Leonard Fournette skipping out on their final games as junior’s before they go off to the NFL, a precedent is being set:

Both McCaffrey and Fournette have opted to not play in their team's bowl games to prepare for the NFL draft

If you are a top tier player looking to jump to the NFL, why would you play in a silly game with your teammates and coaches of the last 3+ years?

This is just the latest of the straws on the back of the proverbial bowl system, that might just end up breaking.

Bowl games are no longer relevant. For the fans, coaches, and now, apparently even the players.

Why is this? It’s a mixture of things that start with an understanding of what the college post-season actually is.

Bowls were never meant to be any sort of playoff or post-season advancement. Bowls were simply a reward for those teams who had worked so hard all year.

They involve a week in a destination city, tourism, extra practices, and of course a lot of swag.

The first Rose Bowl game was played in 1928

Over time, the sport grew and grew in popularity. In 1970, there were only 11 bowl games played.

Now, there is a “Whatever-anyone-can-pay-to-put-a-name-on-it” bowl in Saskatchewan, Canada. (Exaggeration used)

But we always still had what we now call “The New Year's Six” with the Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Peach and Orange bowls. These bowls have been staples of the post-season, and games teams have fought to be in for years.

That is, until the playoff came around.

Now, it’s playoff or bust. Those games seem little more than a consolation for those who missed the cut for the playoff or conference championship. (Oklahoma, Michigan, Penn State, etc.)

So now, we as fans sit around dissatisfied with where our teams are no matter if they are lower or upper tier bowl games. It doesn’t really satisfy.

And coaches sit around not getting any credit for making their respective games and being told they need to do more to stick around.

And finally, players sit around wondering what they are even playing for. And whatever it is, is it worth a few million dollars for getting injured and dropping in the draft?

The one last consolation we had with the current bowl system was the claim that it was something meant to be fun for the players. If we don’t have that to lean on, then what do we have? TV ratings? A reason to either bury or over-hype teams before a snap of 2017 is ever played?

The bowl system is broken. What started as a celebration of the season has turned into a consolation trophy to the world of college football, one that leaves fans, coaches and players wondering “What’s the point?”