David Shaw tries to thread the needle between “When I was an NFL coach, the first film I grabbed for every player was their bowl game, because I wanted to see what they were like when they were fresh. It wasn’t the middle of the season,” and his blessing on his star player Christian McCaffrey’s early departure — bowl game, that is — for his pro career with this observation:
“Saying, ‘This game is not important for me, and I don’t need it,’ is different than saying, ‘I don’t need it to further my career,’” Shaw said. “The McCaffrey situation is that, I’ve put so much great film out there, I’ve broken so many records, playing in this bowl game won’t change my draft status.
That is certainly a valid distinction and I get where Shaw is coming from. I’m not a college junior weighing my choices, though, and the problem there, it seems to me, is that those kids don’t have enough information to make the best decision for themselves. Couple that with the fact that declaring early for the NFL draft is a no-look back decision, unlike other collegiate sports where you can announce your interest, but as long as you don’t sign with an agent, your declaration is revocable, allowing a return to school, and that’s how you get to a situation where almost a third of this year’s early departees went undrafted.
If the NCAA is sincere about its turning pro finger wagging, maybe it ought to take a look at this. Who knows? Maybe it would keep a few extra kids playing in bowl games.