Alabama’s Nick Saban does not blame star players for not participating in bowl games in order to prep for the NFL. He cites the College Football Playoff as a main reason for their decision.
When a controversial subject in college football comes up, it’s necessary to get the opinion of the head coach running the nation’s most successful program—one currently gunning for its fifth national title in eight seasons.
Alabama’s Nick Saban spoke to ESPN on the subject of players leaving their teams before their bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft. Of course, LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Baylor’s Shock Linwood all declared that they would miss their bowl games this postseason in order to get ready for the next phase of their carers.
“We kind of created this trend,” Saban said on Wednesday. “I said as soon as we had a Playoff, we were going to minimize the importance of all the other bowl games. I’m not saying whether it’s good or bad, it kind of is what it is.
“I don’t know where all this is going, but I don’t think it’s going to change. Is it good? Probably not. But you can’t blame the kids. It’s a product of what we created.”
Saban does make a great point, as it’s tough to imagine star players such as Fournette and McCaffrey leaving their teams early to prep for the NFL if LSU and Stanford, respectively, were in the four-team College Football Playoff mix this year. Further, there has been a clamoring for a playoff in this sport for decades, so it’s essentially a Catch-22 situation.
However, it’s somewhat ironic that these comments are coming from Saban seeing as how his Alabama program has made the CFP each season the system has existed. So far, that annual success has made early departures from ‘Bama a non-issue.
Saban did say, however, that players cannot avoid injuries and that he doesn’t coach with a mindset fearing that his players will get hurt. Of course, injuries happen in every sport, and skipping games does not keep a player immune from a possible injury. However, one cannot argue with the logic of a star player wanting to be as fresh as possible when so much money will be at stake at the next level.