Kirk Herbstreit took to Twitter to share his thoughts about critics arguing that all bowl games besides the CFP are meaningless.
The college football bowl game system has come under plenty of criticism this year, especially with big-name players like Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and LSU's Leonard Fournette choosing to forego their bowl games to focus on preparing for the NFL draft. The notion is that, unless your team is featured in the College Football Playoff with a chance at a national championship, then the bowl games are essentially exhibition matches, and therefore meaningless to play in. ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, however, doesn't see it that way.
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He's got a point, but it doesn't necessarily address the original criticism, so let's parse it out here.
To some of the players—specifically the ones whose playing careers end with college football—the bowl games definitely have meaning. That's obvious—those players have nothing to lose, even if they do get hurt, and it's one last opportunity to play the game they love. But to NFL-bound players like Fournette and McCaffrey, these bowl games represent an unnecessary risk when the benefit is next to nothing. I would guarantee that both Fournette and McCaffrey would love nothing more than to play and be alongside their teammates in their respective bowl games, but it simply isn't worth it for them.
For almost every other single player, no one would argue that these games are meaningless—again, they are very meaningful!—but to the 2 percent or so that go on to play at the next level, yeah, they're definitely meaningless. Herbstreit's tweet isn't so much a jab at the critics of the bowl game system (like he intended), but a jab at the NCAA's amateur-play system itself that requires these elite players to remain in college for three years.