We’re now into the double digits of college football players who have decided not to play their bowl games, instead preparing for the NFL draft.
Minnesota offensive tackle Donnell Greene is the latest to make the announcement that he’s not playing in his team’s bowl game. Greene said he has already hired an agent, so that ends his NCAA eligibility.
Other players who have decided not to play in their bowl games are North Carolina State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon, Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry, South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel, Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver, Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary, LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, Iowa tight end Noah Fant, North Carolina State linebacker Germaine Pratt and Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill.
As recently as a couple years ago, when Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette sat out their bowl games, college players skipping bowls was considered unusual, and often came with heavy criticism. But this year it has come to be expected that NFL draft prospects aren’t going to risk an injury that could cost them millions of dollars just so they can play for free in the Weed Wacker Bowl.
Perhaps that’s because some very good college players, including Jaylon Smith and Jake Butt, have suffered serious injuries in bowl games that adversely affected their draft prospects. Perhaps it’s because college coaches treat bowl games as unimportant, often quitting on their teams before their bowls to go take a more lucrative job. Or perhaps we’re all just coming to accept the reality that football is a business, and players — even “amateur” players — are entitled to make business decisions.