Right or wrong, and for better or worse, Randy Shannon has gone there.
One of the burgeoning issues in college football is players skipping out on their team’s bowl games in order to begin preparing for the next NFL draft. In one camp, you have those decrying a bunch of quitters who should finish what they started; in another, you have those applauding players for making a business decision that, given the risk of injury in what’s essentially a meaningless exhibition game, is in their long-term best interests.
The vast majority of coaches, knowing their bread is buttered on the backs of unpaid student-athletes, very publicly support a player’s decision to sideline himself from a bowl game, even as privately they may abhor a growing practice that could, among other things, cut into their bowl bonuses. Randy Shannon, however, is not one of those who keeps his private thoughts separate from his public stance.
Speaking to ESPN.com, the former Miami head coach and current UCF defensive coordinator essentially stated that NFL teams could shy away from players who skip bowl games in college because it could cause them to “tank it” at the next level.
My opinion, it probably will fester more and more in college. And then now the NFL is going to have to make a decision,” Shannon said. “If you draft a young man that leaves early and now you’re not a playoff team, that young man [is] going to say, ‘I’m not going to play.’ Same situation. Right, wrong or indifferent.”
He thinks “a lot of coaches will think that way.”
“If a team is 6-9, no chance of them making the playoffs, are they going to play or are they going to tank it?” Shannon said. “Especially if you’re on the last year of your contract, option year.
And a limited survey says…
- Bradley Chubb, fifth-overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft
- Leonard Fournette, fourth-overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft
- Christian McCaffrey, eighth-overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft
- Denzel Ward, fourth-overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft
That’s a very partial and incomplete list of college football players who have decided to skip their bowl games the past two seasons, yet went on to be selected high in the draft months later and have yet to be even remotely accused of tanking. The Pro Bowler Ward, just to highlight one example, returned this month from a first concussion that caused him to miss two games only to suffer a second concussion after the Cleveland Browns had been eliminated from the playoffs.
“The fact that [Shannon] thinks that [spit] matters to people at this level shows just how out of touch he really is,” a longtime NFL scout told CFT in an email that alerted us to the coordinator’s quotes, adding, “It’s embarrassing.”
By making his private thoughts public, about the only thing that the old-school Shannon has accomplished is to make his — and his football program’s — job on the recruiting trail that much harder. There’s little doubt his words will be used against him by those competing for the very same recruits who could be in a position to make that very same business decision X number of years from now — and know they won’t have Shannon’s support if he maintains his archaic stance.
In the meantime, get the hell off of his lawn.