You know the romance is gone when there is a Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, but no longer a Poulan Weed Eater Independence Bowl. It is bowl season in America again, which means it's time to get revved up for the Dollar General Bowl, and also the Belk Bowl. And don't even try to contain the excitement surrounding the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl.
Which is to say, snarkily, there are too many of these things, surprise, surprise. And none of them matters a tinker's dang to anyone, especially the unpaid mercenaries who are called upon to play them.
And so now comes the news that a couple of the unpaid mercenaries are going to sit out these glorified exhibitions, on account of they have the future to think of and don't particularly feel like leaving it on the field in the Quick Lane Bowl. Or the Hyundai Sun Bowl, for that matter.
That's where Stanford is going, but star running back Christian McCaffrey isn't going with them. Ditto LSU running back Leonard Fournette, who's giving the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl a miss.
Both of them, after all, are headed to the NFL Draft, and they both have good memories. Who could forget Notre Dame (and former Bishop Luers) star Jaylon Smith blowing out his knee in the Fiesta Bowl 11 months ago, thereby costing himself millions as he went from a likely top-five pick to a late first rounder?
Smith declares now that if he had it all to do over again, he'd still have played in the bowl game. Maybe. But you can't blame McCaffrey and Fournette for seeing him as a cautionary tale.
Ninety-nine percent of these bowls have never been anything but gussied-up exhibition games anyway, after all. With the advent of the College Football Playoff, that's doubly so. So what's the upside to playing in them if you're NFL bound? Especially when you're not getting paid to do so?
The future is now, everyone says, and so, sorry, TaxSlayer Bowl, and also R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Hardly anyone utters a peep when coaches choose the future over the past and bail on their teams' bowl games to get started on their next job. Why should the players be any different?
And besides, it's not like there's a Poulan Weed Eater Independence Bowl anymore.
Oh, no. Now it's the Camping World Independence Bowl.