Tell me, is there anything more adorable than a peeved Bill Hancock?
But the biggest shock wave to run through the system might have come last December, when standout running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey chose to sit out the Citrus Bowl and the Sun Bowl, respectively. Both players had been injured during the regular season. Both had the support of their coaches when they decided not to play, saying they were instead focusing on their professional future. On Thursday, both players were among the top eight picks in the NFL Draft.
Their decisions, while controversial at the time, sparked a phrase that causes those in the bowl industry to fume: Their defenders said McCaffrey and Fournette (and Baylor running back Shock Linwood, too) were skipping “meaningless bowls.”
“The term ticks me off,” says Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, “because those bowls are not meaningless for those players.”
Hell, no, they’re not! They’re a last opportunity to get hurt before the draft. (Hey, it’s not my fault Hancock blows his grammar when he gets ticked off.)
Honestly, the real issue here is, of course, the hypocrisy. The CFP isn’t the only driver here, but you sure can’t argue it hasn’t played its part in making the bowls less important than they once were. Don’t take my word for that, either.
“We kind of created this trend,” Alabama’s Nick Saban told ESPN in December. “I said as soon as we had a playoff, we were going to minimize the importance of all the other bowl games. I’m not saying whether it’s good or bad, it kind of is what it is.”
But the Playoff might not be all that’s ailing the other bowls.
“I do think there has been attention shifted to those semifinals and the championship,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey says. “That’s in a way undeniable. I don’t think that’s been the primary detraction from other postseason games.”
It’s just another consequence of the money chase. The irony here is that what’s really brought things to crisis mode is that the players have figured out they can make the same kind of business decision the schools have been making for years. There’s not much Bill Hancock or his clients can do about that, either.