There will be 40 bowl games played this season. Why? Because Americans have shown that if you broadcast football and put it in front of us we will sit there and watch it.
ESPN will broadcast 35 of the 40 bowl games and the company even owns 14 bowl games outright through a company called ESPN Events. Just because the country will sit down and watch the games doesn’t mean the players are as excited to play in them as we are to watch the games.
Just because we’re excited for bowl season doesn’t mean the players share that same level of excitement. Currently there are 35 players that have declared early for the 2019 NFL Draft. Among them there are 10 players who have already announced they will skip their team’s bowl game. The Camping World Bowl won’t see Will Grier slinging passes. Feleipe Franks won’t have to worry about Michigan defensive tackle Rashan Gary sacking him in the Peach Bowl. The Belk Bowl won’t see South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel as the senior will skip the bowl season to avoid another injury as he prepares for the next step.
Among those 35 players is one Florida Gator — Chauncey Gardner-Johnson — but players like Jachai Polite, Jawaan Taylor, Jordan Scarlett, Lamical Perine and Van Jefferson could also leave. Gardner-Johnson has already committed to playing in the Peach Bowl and Dan Mullen has stated that all of his players have told him they planned on playing.
“I said before last week it’s a personal decision for everybody to go do that. But you’re playing a great opponent, so I think for guys a great opportunity when you’re playing in a New Year’s Six bowl, you’re playing against a Top 10 team,” Dan Mullen said. “Even if you are leaving for the NFL, I don’t care if you’re a redshirt sophomore or a fifth-year senior, you get an opportunity to go play against a team full of a bunch of NFL talent and go put it on tape what you can do, it’s one more chance to go build your resume as a football player.”
Not everyone will see it that way and Mullen understands that. He views he decision to stay or to leave school early and the decision to play in a bowl game or skip it as a deeply personal one. He does however have some pretty straight forward criteria for how the decision should be made.
If you’re a first rounder, he’ll help you pack your bags. You don’t have a decision to make. A first round pick in the NFL is going to get generational changing money. If you’re a second round pick you have a decision to make. If you’re not one of those two, well, you should come back to school.
The problem with finding out where you stand is getting the right information.
“108 guys have been listed as first round draft picks in mock drafts by experts. You do the math. There’s 64 that go in the first two rounds,” Mullen said. “Be honest with you if you talk to anyone in the business if you’re a first rounder you leave. If you’re a second rounder you think about it. If you’re going after the second round you should stay. Pretty standard. Most GMs, coaches, NFL coaches that I talk to that’s their belief, their philosophy. That’s mine.”
Basically if you’re drafted after the first two rounds the odds of you getting to a second contract, one that would be more lucrative and set the player up for his future, drops off significantly to that of a first or second rounder. Mullen tells his players would you rather try and stay healthy while performing at a high level for four years or come back and do that for one year in college and try to raise that stock to become a first or second rounder?
Mullen has met with his players and discussed this. He’ll do his best to educate them and get them in touch with the people they should be speaking with. Agents and runners will try and make a quick buck off of players but won’t be around when you’re out of the NFL in three years. Mullen still believes all of his players will play in the bowl game but that could change when some of them get their paperwork back from the NFL and see where they might be drafted.
“I think just the, really educating yourself on it,” Mullen said. “Having only been here for a year, not being around these guys as long, I think in the future you’ll see Florida guys make better and better decisions leaving.”