The big news of the day is Leonard Fournette has announced he will be sitting out LSU’s bowl game in order to rehab his ankle injury. He isn’t OUT, he is sitting out in order to prep for the NFL draft. This isn’t going to be some fire hot take about him being a coward or a baby or quitting on his team, I really don’t have an issue with him sitting out. I would like to see him play his last game for his school, but its his choice, if he wants to play it safe thats totally fine.
The real story here is RIP non-playoff bowl games. When the playoff was first announced, people worried about the future of the “other” bowl games. Would anyone care, or would they just become a side show to the playoff. I think they have settled into a niche of a nice intriguing sideshow, but they have lost a little luster for sure. The playoff’s inevitable expansion (@ Me on that in 2020) to 8 teams will surely hurt too. But the real bullet is right here, star players sitting out. The best non-playoff bowl games, the ones everyone gets excited for, are the ones with the stars. The actual result of the team vs. team competition means little, so we can’t wait to tune in and watch these future 1st round picks suit up one last time. Last year the big non-playoff bowl everyone had a hard on for was Notre Dame vs. Ohio State, as we were promised top picks going to battle, with match-ups like Ronnie Stanley (6th pick) vs. Joey Bosa (3rd pick), Will Fuller (21st) vs. Eli Apple (10th) or Jaylon Smith (more on this later) vs. Ezekiel Elliot (4th). If all these guys sat out, I can assure you that game wouldn’t have had the same shine. Ohio State playing Notre Dame in early January at a neutral site in Arizona is cool, but barely moves the needle by itself. It needs star players. And if bowl games don’t have those stars, they aren’t going to last. If Fournette starts a trend and players begin sitting out non-playoff bowl games like LeBron sits out regular season NBA games, than all the bowls are going to become the same thing. Obscure matchups that exist to be gambled on to pass the time during winter break.
P.S: Jaylon Smith is reason #1 and reason #1000 why Fournette has every right to do this. His NFL career was ruined by a cheap shot by Taylor Decker in a meaningless bowl game. Fuck Taylor Decker man. But yeah, if Fournette doesn’t want to risk a lineman rolling over his ankle in a pile or something, I get it. Jaylon Smith gets it. I have a hard time understand people who have a problem with him sitting.
P.S Part 2: Leonard Fournette was a colossal bust right? I mean he has to be one of the bigger College Football Busts of the 2000’s. All I heard about was Bugga Nation and how this dude was 18 year old AP and was going to run over SEC defenses, and yet LSU went 8-5, 9-3 and 7-4 with him, never competed for an SEC west crown, never played in a BCS bowl, and Fournette himself never got close to the Heisman. Hell, I think you could make the argument Fournette got Les Miles fired. Obviously he had his moments, he was good for 2-3 highlights a year when he ran over some poor CB like was an 18 wheeler, but all in all his impact on LSU was very limited. Say it with me, Leonard Fournette, BUST.
*That being said I would still take him as the RB #1 in the draft. College bust, not necessarily NFL.