Reaping what you sow, bowl games edition

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.

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31 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

31 responses to “Reaping what you sow, bowl games edition

  1. Aladawg

    Amen to the players making those decisions.

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  2. JCDAWG83

    It’s hard to argue that bowls aren’t meaningless when you have so many that teams with losing records or teams having to count wins over FCS opponents to qualify for a bowl (South Carolina) are playing in them.

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  3. Macallanlover

    I don’t find them meaningless, or minimized, at all. I certainly see that perception, it just doesn’t fit for me. I watch CFB games every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in the Fall, and most all bowl games, playoffs haven’t changed any of that, they just added one more interesting matchup, and delayed the start of the dead period by a week or two.

    Only things I would change is add one more round in the playoffs, and wish the smaller schools would switch their football season to the Spring. It would give us football fans another season every year, and would get them some attention without being overshadowed by the high profile schools.

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    • ElectroM

      Having the smaller schools or conferences play in the spring is a great idea. The schools and players would get a lot more exposure and with the increased coverage they would earn more money for their programs.

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      • Macallanlover

        Sports channels have little inventory of games to broadcast that would have a comparable interest level. This is a very slow, and long, dead period for me as a CFB fan.

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  4. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    An additional factor is the bowl contracts held by the leagues. Before the contracts became common, bowls had more flexibility in inviting teams and, as a result, more interesting matchups. Not as interesting when you play the same team in a bowl two years in a row.

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  5. Go Dawgs!

    I fully support players looking towards their future. As much as it bugs me that it may not matter as much to the players every time dear ol’ State U tees it up as it does to me, I fully understand the implications of risking a financial future that’s reserved for most of your peers’ wildest dreams on a game that many people won’t remember a year from now.

    I guess my question for the Bill Hancocks and Nick Sabans of the world is, do you really think bowl games became relatively “meaningless” in the last two years? A team like Georgia has held a trip to the Liberty Bowl or the Independence Bowl to be fairly meaningless pretty much for decades. Maybe the Outback or the Citrus felt better because they were higher in the pecking order and they were in cool places to spend a week… but they still are in better places and they still do feel slightly better. Bowl games that don’t end with a big ring have always felt like exhibitions during my lifetime.

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  6. georgiajeepn

    Who will be the first player to skip the final two or three meaningless games of the season for a team with only 2 or 3 wins? They probably have already been some players holding back on effort in that situation anyway. Hey that could explain last season’s Georgia’s offensive line!

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    • Uglydawg

      My thoughts too.
      While I don understand their point, I believe it will come to this.
      Why go out and risk your health once your team is eliminated from consideration for the playoffs? Team get’s second loss of season?..time to sit out… With the blurring of the lines of what is and isn’t required or expected from a team members, things can only go downhill. “Hell, if he’s not playing, neither am I”…If it’s not worth him playing, why should I practice and bust my ass?”, “His knees aren’t any more important to him than mine are to me”, etc.
      This isn’t good.
      But fortunately, there are people like Chubb and Sony that are determined to hold up their end of what’s expected, and even go above and beyond what is expected of them. True competitors and not Prima Donnas. Kudos for returning to lead the charge this year!

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      • Uglydawg

        Correction of second line..”While I do understand their point” (reason).

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      • Sherlock

        There were a number of people that encouraged Jadeveon Clowney to sit out his Junior year as there was nothing he could to to help is draft stock. Also, the last memory people would have had of his college days was him almost decapitating that 170 Michigan RB when the LT decided to let JC run free. He still went 1st overall in the draft, but there were some questions as he didn’t appear to put in the same amount of effort as a JR.

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        • Uglydawg

          Yeah..and then there’s terrible cases like Marcus Lattimore’s to consider. Despite my earlier comment, sitting out a “meaningless” bowl game may not be too long of a shot from sitting out the Spring Game ..except for the expectations of the city, bowl committee, fans, etc. It’s a tough call.

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      • I think the sitting out thing is only reasonable with the support of the coaching staff. In the cases mentioned here, both Coach Oeaux and Coach Shaw supported their players’ decisions, and their teammates wished them well. At least, Fournette (not sure about McCaffrey) was on the sidelines for the game.

        If a player decided to sit out without the support of the staff, I would tell him to go clean out his locker, drop out of classes and take away his access to the athletic facility.

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  7. paul

    Yet Hancock is not ticked off by the fact that the bowls have devalued themselves by having forty or so games, often featuring 6-6 teams.

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  8. Maybe I’m not a college football junkie anymore, but the overpopulation of bowl season has made me less interested in the game’s post-season. The only game I watched from beginning to end including the playoff was the Georgia game and that was on DVR.

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  9. TimberRidgeDawg

    Number of Bowl Games in 1977 – 13
    Number of NCAA Division 1 teams in 1977 -145 (last season before I-A and I-AA Split)
    Number of Bowl Games in 2016 – 41
    Number of FBS Programs in 2016 – 128

    You can argue about what they mean today, but it’s hard to argue that their value hasn’t been diluted with the CFA playoffs, and the media shuffling of the traditional New Year’s game dates for TV revenue, killed one of our greatest traditions. Too many games with bad match ups, ridiculous money grab ticket prices, lots of empty seats, and the players see it for what it is.

    In 1977 there were 13 bowls total and even then only 5 or 6 of them really meant anything. Now there are 41 and still only 5 or 6 mean something and three of those are the rotating 4 team playoff with the endless TV timeouts for commercials.

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  10. ASEF

    I think people used to pay more attention to the bowls than they do now. Playoff gravity might be confusing correlation with causation, so we’re not going to solve that riddle any time soon – but I definitely see a drop off in the conversations people in my circle of sports enthusiasts have about bowls in general. Why? Who knows? It’s probably a combination of things.

    Both LSU and Stanford won their bowl games by the way. The narrative might be a little different if both had lost. Not saying it should be different. Don’t miss the adjective “little.”

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  11. Dolly Llama

    I said it on an earlier thread on bowls, but I’ll say it again: If college football wants to stimulate interest in the bowls, TAKE OFF THE REDSHIRTS. Let anyone on the team play. You may have a stud sitting out, but you may have another stud behind him that you’ve never seen before.

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  12. DawgPhan

    I enjoy the bowl games. I suspect that most of the players enjoy the bowl games as well. Those sorts of trips are fun. They might not think that the game is the most important of their career, but I bet most of the players enjoy the trip.

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  13. If the games weren’t meaningless to those players then they wouldn’t have begged out of them.

    Honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is. If you’re projected to go in the first round, they’ve got the tape they need and you can protect yourself and your future.

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  14. Cousin Eddie

    I would like to see the NCAA make bowl games eligible for redshirted players to participate without removing the redshirt designation. This would be a way to get eyes back on the game to be able to watch next years talent. It would be a reward for the guys that practice away on the scout team to get on the field and show what they have.

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  15. PTC DAWG

    I watch a good many of the BOWLS…if Espn wants to air them, I’ll watch…no skin of my back if folks don’t want too…..

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  16. Captain Obvious

    in less than 5 years only players with no shot in the nfl will be playing these bowl games.

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  17. 95% off the bowls have been meaningless. It’s an extra ballgame with a few perks.

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  18. CB

    “They’re a last opportunity to get hurt before the draft.”

    LOL well said

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