The news across college football Monday was that a second high-profile player, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, will opt not to play in his team’s bowl game, instead choosing to focus on preparation for the NFL Draft.
McCaffrey’s Cardinal play in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30 against North Carolina, while Louisiana State running back Leonard Fournette announced he will also sit out the Citrus Bowl on Dec. 31. In Schembechler Hall on Tuesday, Michigan’s players predicted that none of their teammates would do the same as they prepare for the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30 against Florida State.
“They have their own opinions and reasons why they did it, but at the end of the day, you’re still playing for your team, and it’s about the team, so to do that is definitely selfish,” said Michigan fifth-year senior defensive tackle Matt Godin on Tuesday.
McCaffrey and Fournette have both battled injuries this season after entering with high NFL hopes already. Their decision is an economic one — they chose not to risk further injury and perhaps threaten their draft future by playing in one final game.
For other players, though, the bowl is a last chance to play with college teammates and — for those with NFL futures not as certain as Fournette’s or McCaffrey’s — add to their stock with a big performance.
Most of Michigan’s players said they understood why the stars made the decisions they did and avoided taking a strong stance on the matter. Junior center Mason Cole, who has an NFL Draft decision of his own to make in the next month, called it a “personal decision” that McCaffrey and Fournette had to make for themselves. He said he could see the reasoning behind both sides.
“I don’t know what he’s thinking or what kind of situation he’s in,” added fifth-year senior kicker Kenny Allen. “It happens. I just wish him the best.”
Michigan could have a double-digit number of players selected in the draft, but even in light of what could become a trend, all are expected to suit up for the bowl game.
“I don’t think any guy on our team would ever think about doing something like (skip the game),” Godin said. “It’s just how it is around here.”