McCaffrey to skip Sun Bowl for National Football League preparation

Fournette, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Baylor's Shock Linwood have all declared the intent to skip their respective bowl games.

Fournette is expected to be picked in the top 15 of the 2017 National Football League draft in April, and, according to many rankings, he's the top running back in the draft class. Fournette missed four games this season with a lingering left ankle injury.

Here's why I find it so fascinating: It's the first time I can really remember two star college football players looking around at the current landscape (coaches making seven figures, TV networks making eight or nine figures) and realizing maybe it doesn't make a ton of sense to play in the Sun Bowl or the TaxSlayer Bowl when they haven't made their millions yet.

Saban's Tide could have as many as six players selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, but none of them have given any indication they plan to skip any of the team's postseason action. It's not like a bowl game is going to do anything for either player's draft stock. If I got a call for a better opportunity, would I stay and see this recruiting class through? Fournette was not 100% healthy at any point this season due to a lingering ankle injury sustained in the preseason, yet he rushed for 843 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games. He's given LSU his body and talent for three years.

Jaylon Smith injured during last season's Fiesta Bowl
Jaylon Smith injured during last season's Fiesta

Smith went from a potential top-five pick to a second-round choice for the Dallas Cowboys and is still working back from the injury.

Being a great high school player is not about who wants you join them in at the next level, but about being a great high school player. Critics panned the decisions as the opposite of the team-first ideal.

Following the boycott by Missouri football players a year ago, college athletes are realizing that they do wield some power and they're starting to use it.

What a lot of us don't understand is turning your back on your school and your teammates for selfish reasons. The guy who went out one last time and played as hard as he could for his team and his teammates?

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That's not criticizing McCaffrey or Fournette as much as acknowledging reality that society is more willing than ever to accept from businessmen disguised as college athletes.

It also depends on whether it's a playoff game or one of the minor bowl games, Ogbuehi added.

The 2013 Outback Bowl between the University of Michigan Wolverines versus the University of South Carolina Gamecocks provides an example of the benefit of playing in a bowl game.

"I wouldn't have even thought about not playing", Ogbuehi said. There were 18 bowl games the year that Christian McCaffrey was born (1996).

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"Bowl games in general just give something to play for at the end". Football is the ultimate team game.

"You can't think about injuries", he said.

As someone who still cherishes the memory of playing in the 1989 California Raisin Bowl for Ball State, I view the bowl experience through the same prism as so many college football players who aren't counting the days until the NFL draft.

Both Fournette and McCaffrey are doing the right thing by sitting out of their team's bowl game.

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