Last year a couple of high-profile college football players — Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey — decided to skip their teams' bowl games rather than risk an injury that might jeopardize their pro careers.
At least five players did it this year, including a few who don’t even project as first-round draft choices.
You can bet the number will multiply again next season and the season after that as this becomes a more acceptable practice.
That doesn’t mean we have to like it.
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley doesn’t really like the idea either. He admitted he could see some players skipping the bowl game in certain situations, but he couldn’t envision himself doing it. He said he returned for his senior season with the Hawkeyes largely because he wanted to win a bowl.
Texas, which needed a win in the Texas Bowl to avoid being under .500 for the fourth straight year, had three players who announced plans to turn pro early and then sat out the game against Missouri. Offensive tackle Connor Williams is an almost certain first-round pick, but defensive backs DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill probably are second-rounders at best.
I guess having a team-last attitude like that is how you get to be 7-6 in what used to be one of the marquee programs in the entire country.
Florida State safety Derwin James, a definite first-rounder, and Oregon running back Royce Freeman, a likely second- or third-round pick, also skipped their teams' bowls.
"I feel like I’m with it for certain reasons, but then I’m not with it for other reasons," said Wadley, who may have helped his pro stock with a monster performance in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. "You’re leaving your teammates out to dry, especially if you’re a big part of the team’s success. If you’re a big part of the offense or defense, I feel like you should play because you can get hurt doing anything. That’s just how I feel about it."
We haven’t heard rave reviews from anyone about the fan or media experience at the Pinstripe Bowl, which was played in frigid conditions at Yankee Stadium.
After watching the game between Iowa and Boston College on television, it’s apparent that bowl games in cold weather climates really need to be played on football fields with heating coils beneath the playing surface, not in baseball stadiums gerrymandered to accommodate football.
Players on both teams were slipping and sliding all day on the frozen playing surface.
Iowa and Iowa State both winning bowl games in the same season is unusual but not unprecedented. In addition to this year, it also happened in 2009 and 2004.
But to find a season in which both programs won eight or more games, as they did this year, you need to go back a little further. Like to 1903.
Iowa went 9-2 that year and Iowa State was 8-1, but in that era both schools played mostly in-state opponents. Both defeated Coe, Cornell, Drake, Simpson and Grinnell that season. Iowa State also owned victories over Highland Park and the Omaha Light Guards.
It’s a bit early to get a handle on what direction the Chicago Bears are headed in picking their next head coach.
It’s almost certainly going to be a high-level coordinator from another team. Someone like Pat Shurmur of the Vikings, John DeFilippo of the Eagles or Matt Nagy of the Chiefs.
That’s probably better than recycling a 60-year-old guy who washed out as a head coach elsewhere or bringing in someone who has been a big winner in the Canadian Football League. Bears fans have had enough of both of those.
There are rumblings now that rather than using big bucks to sign Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb, the Cubs might choose to spend their money on a different free agent starting pitcher.
Some guy named Jake Arrieta.
While Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, once boasted that he thought his client could get a six-year, $200 million contract in free agency, Arrieta apparently is at least considering a four-year, $110 million pact that would bring him back to the Cubs.
They probably need to sign either him or Darvish, who is seeking comparable cash, to give them one more top-of-the-line starter to go with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood.