Saquon Barkley won’t rule out skipping bowl game

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College football players are starting to make business decisions. Which is good news, because everyone else connected to college football makes business decisions (especially since they all get paid for doing business with college football).

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who rushed for 1,496 yards in 2016, recently addressed the issue with Pete Thamel of SI.com. During a four-minute answer, Barkley (per Thamel) changed his mind on the fly, before finally saying this: “I would have a hard time doing it. But I’m not going to sit here and say I would never do it. I don’t know. I could be in a situation next year where I have close to two broken ankles, God forbid, or something going on in my upper body and I can’t play in a game if I’m considering playing in the NFL.”

Of course, now that what was once speculation has become a full-blown thing, with guys like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey skipping bowl games and still going in the top 10 (and with guys like Jaylon Smith and Jake Butt playing and blowing out their knees), college football coaches who successfully recruited these players into their programs will be trying their best to recruit them to finish the job. Including Barkley’s coach.

“I don’t mean this as a knock to any of these guys, but especially at the running back position, you didn’t get there by yourself,” Penn State coach James Franklin told Thamel. “Those offensive linemen had a big part of your success. Those tight ends and quarterbacks had a big part of your success.”

That’s all true, but once a guy emerges as a player who will be earning a lot of money in the NFL (far more than the zero dollars and zero cents he earns in college), he needs to think about himself. College football coaches, who hopscotch from program to program (like Franklin did from Vanderbilt to Penn State) always think about themselves, ignoring that the offensive linemen, tight ends, quarterbacks, running backs, defensive players, specialists, and all other coaches on the staff “had a big part of your success.”

Of course, that won’t matter when the recruiting tools get directed back to players who are realizing that they have the power to walk away from the program whenever they choose. As to Barkley, who seems to be willing to make a business decision (however it turns out), there’s another business decision he should consider making right now, based on the experiences of guys like star running back Marcus Lattimore, who shredded his knee during a final season at South Carolina: With the NFL not allowing Barkley into the draft until next year, should Barkley skip not just the bowl game but the whole season?

However Barkley resolves that business decision is Barkley’s business. But every player with clear NFL potential that becomes obvious before the NFL will welcome him to the next level needs to make that decision. Millions of dollars are riding on the outcome of the risk-reward balance that every great college football player will face, and after giving the program a year or two of mostly free service, the player owes it to himself and his family to make the affirmative and conscious decision to stay or to go, even if he can’t go to the NFL for a full year.

33 responses to “Saquon Barkley won’t rule out skipping bowl game

  1. If I was a guy going to the draft and the game didn’t mean anything, I definitely wouldn’t play. The only reason coaches want to play in those rinkie dink bowl games is the extra practice time and national exposure that comes with.

  2. I guess NCAA would have to have a stipulation that if they are healthy and dont play they have to repay the scholarship for that year? Not that I like that idea – but when will good players start sitting out season games too? Its just going to degrade the college game if they aren’t held to play as they signed up for.

  3. The reality is that most of these top round draft prospects are not even in school anymore when their exhibition bowl games come around. The semester ends in mid-December and the top prospects usually don’t go back for the spring semester so they can prepare for the combine and draft.

    Obviously, the playoff bowl games are a different situation, but why bother with a meaningless exhibition game?

  4. I live in the heart of Big Ten country and in the east division of the conference, UM, OSU, PSU, etc., and I have NEVER heard of this guy before this article.

    Skip or don’t skip sir. I’m only amazed at how the NCAA caved on the Penn State punishment and allowed all the scholarships back so quickly. You sir should be playing ball at another school because by my recollection PSU should be on about their third or fourth 1-11 or 2-10 season in a row now after getting slapped by the NCAA.

    Still can’t believe they caved and let them back so quickly.

  5. Bowl games generate a lot of revenue. Split some off and buy really fat insurance policies for the players. Problem solved. McAfree will be making what, about 15M guaranteed? Bet he would’ve played in the bowl game if he had a 20M policy against injury to fall back on.

  6. Why recruit a kid that has aspirations to be a Professional Football Player one day? 90% of the Top recruits go to a College hoping for enough exposure to get them drafted and in the league. Once they know they’ve solidified their stock, why bother? Just like the coach that ditches his recruits, once a better job comes along. That’s like working as an intern for 2 weeks when you already have a permanent job lined up. Theres no benefit for the kid.

  7. waynefontesismyfather says:
    May 3, 2017 3:31 PM
    I live in the heart of Big Ten country and in the east division of the conference, UM, OSU, PSU, etc., and I have NEVER heard of this guy before this article.

    ————————

    Really? heart of the Big Ten country and you haven’t heard of the 2015 Big Ten Rookie of the Year or the 2016 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Running Back of the Year and First Team Big Ten? That’s kind of hard to imagine … or you are just lying

    nice try though

  8. waynefontesismyfather says:
    May 3, 2017 3:31 PM
    I live in the heart of Big Ten country and in the east division of the conference, UM, OSU, PSU, etc., and I have NEVER heard of this guy before this article.

    Skip or don’t skip sir. I’m only amazed at how the NCAA caved on the Penn State punishment and allowed all the scholarships back so quickly. You sir should be playing ball at another school because by my recollection PSU should be on about their third or fourth 1-11 or 2-10 season in a row now after getting slapped by the NCAA.

    ————–

    Um Wayne, you must not watch Big Ten football. He’s a beast and likely a top 10 player in next year’s draft. This coming from a fan/alum of a different Big Ten school that currently lives on the west coast…

  9. Nick Saban just signed an extension worth $65 million plus bonuses for winning championships. NFL coaches don’t get that kind of scratch. It’s bad enough NCAA doesn’t pay players or allow them to profit off their name but now coaches want to guilt them into risking millioms for post season exhibition games.

  10. Brian Kelly, the head coach for Notre Dame skipped the Orange Bowl when he was the head coach for Cincinnati. How did the players feel when they made to the Orange Bowl and their head coach ditches them.

  11. I hope that someday colleges will no longer have sport teams. That way college can be what it is intended to be.

  12. I’ve been saying it for years; let these kids sign endorsement deals. Barkley might be more willing to plan in the Tostitos bowl if they are paying him $1million to eat some chips and play in the game. Top end talent could then have the money to take out insurance.

  13. Barkley is a stud RB and could possibly be a late first rounder or second rounder. I am not one to agree with players sitting out but I am starting to change my mind about it as long as their team mates are ok with it.

    Also, for running backs their shelf life is so short in the NFL I wonder if you will start seeing backs sitting out multiple regular season games or even full seasons? The NFL won’t care and I would bet some teams would like taking a RB with one less year of wear and tear on the body.

  14. newlydead & clwb419

    Of course I’m lying. I’ve heard of him, I just don’t care for him. I live in the heart of Big Ten country but actually support a MAC school.

    My railing on the NCAA for being WEAK on Penn State after being so “tough” originally is on point though. The school is an embarrassment and they should have voluntarily imposed their own program death penalty on the football team after the NCAA failed to do so.

  15. These players are paid to play via scholarships. If they don’t like it, don’t sign up. Cry me a river. The social justice for spoiled athletes is idiotic

  16. Barkley will be the best RB to come out of college in the last 20 years. He’s not playing in any bowl games. These guys went to college to get an education. An educated mind is going to skip the meaning less game.

  17. College bowl games have become a joke – since 1998 they’ve added something like 28 of them. Now we have teams go 6-7, or 7-6 and get bowl invites. I see no fault in a player sitting out a bowl game if they’re declaring for the draft and have a good chance of being selected. It would be one thing if the guy is on a team in the college football playoffs, then he should definitely play as the game will mean something. But if their team is paying in the Sun Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Motor City Bowl, etc. then there’s nothing wrong with them sitting it out.

  18. If they can pay coaches $11 million per year and spend $10,000 on lockers (like Texas just did) they should be able to take out some pretty good insurance in case players get hurt in bowl games.

  19. “Don’t they owe it to the school that, you know, paid for their education/”
    ___________

    We’re talking about their final college game in most cases–they’d argue they’d done more than their part in all the games prior. It’s the equivalent of on your last day on a job your (soon to be ex) boss asking you to do something risky that would jeopardize the great-paying job you’re going to. Would you be down with that?

  20. The real issue is the rule that a qualified player can’t freely choose to play in the NFL. It is collusion between the NCAA and the NFL to have a free farm system to develop the talent.

    The rule requires 3 years removed from high school, which allowed Amobi Okoye to be drafted as a teenager because he graduated high school at a young age. This clearly not a rule to protect young men…. but for old Men to make profit.

  21. Most of these blue chip players are getting what the college is set up for…….an education FOR FREE. That is worth 40 to 50 grand per year. I wouldnt say they are playing for free

  22. lurch61 says:
    May 3, 2017 5:26 PM
    Most of these blue chip players are getting what the college is set up for…….an education FOR FREE. That is worth 40 to 50 grand per year. I wouldnt say they are playing for free

    —————–

    Penn St doesn’t charge anywhere near 40K a year nor does any school these guys play for. Also if you think the cost of one student in the class room is costing the university anything more then a few hundred dollars you aren’t looking at the facts.

  23. Just a matter of time before an agent sets up a work out program for some of these guys to use during their 3rd year instead of getting hurt. Clowney could have been way better off not playing his last year. Why not set up some place for these kids to go work out safely with little risk to injury? Can make a reality show out of it if you want.

  24. When a player makes a business decision, it has to be a smart one. An NFL prospect can help himself by improving his skills, and the only to accomplish that is to play the game. Many players didn’t quit on their teams, and helped themselves in bowl games.

    And I can’t think of any college player who could benefit with skipping an entire season of play. It’s just ridiculous to say the risk of injury outweighs the ability to play and improve.

  25. The hypocrites of coaches that say players shouldn’t do it but they wouldn’t hesitate to leave their team before a bowl game for a better job

  26. phunnypharm22 says:
    May 3, 2017 5:26 PM
    The real issue is the rule that a qualified player can’t freely choose to play in the NFL. It is collusion between the NCAA and the NFL to have a free farm system to develop the talent.

    The rule requires 3 years removed from high school, which allowed Amobi Okoye to be drafted as a teenager because he graduated high school at a young age. This clearly not a rule to protect young men…. but for old Men to make profit.

    Not collusion… How many jobs today ‘require’ a Bachelors Degree? Same thing. It’s a way of separating the men/women from the boys/girls. Make it 3yrs in College and we’ll see if you’re ready for the show. Having said that, NCAA players need to be cut in on some of the $$$. The amount of money being thrown around in college football is disgusting, let the boys eat.

  27. Uh, Mr. Author…. Zero dollars and zero cents? Have you seen what tuition, room and board costs at these universities these days? These kids are getting upwards of $75,000.00 per year. So those that don’t play the professional game get paid $300,000.00 over four years then they go out and compete with the graduates that had to pay $300K for their educations for jobs that pay less than what they got in college.

  28. buckybadger says:
    May 3, 2017 6:19 PM
    lurch61 says:
    May 3, 2017 5:26 PM
    Most of these blue chip players are getting what the college is set up for…….an education FOR FREE. That is worth 40 to 50 grand per year. I wouldnt say they are playing for free

    —————–

    Penn St doesn’t charge anywhere near 40K a year nor does any school these guys play for. Also if you think the cost of one student in the class room is costing the university anything more then a few hundred dollars you aren’t looking at the facts.

    ————
    In State UW Madison in 1976 cost me $546.00/semester. My daughter is attending UCLA and total cost is $74,941.00. Not including spending money or flying her home for the holidays.

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