D'Eriq King's injury reminds us that bowl games are meaningless exhibitions and should be treated that way
For The Win 2hrs ago

By my count, 14 bowl games have been cancelled, and that’s not nearly enough. We’re in the grips of a pandemic that forced “student-athletes” who are actually unpaid workers to put their health at risk and sequester away from friends and family; we probably could have done without each and every Corporate Entity You Forgot Existed Bowl this year.

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Nevertheless, some are happening, and we’re having the same old dumb and bad conversations about what they mean and how they should be treated by the young men who actually make them interesting.

Bowing out of these games has become more popular in recent years, and more so this year, but still there are fans who muster up silly feelings about it all:

There’s a really simple reason players should want to skip bowl games. And here, on cue, it is:

Here’s the play where it happened.

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This occurred, and I kid you not, in the Cheez-It Bowl. Look, Cheez-It: You make a good product. Cheese+Salt. The brand is strong. I’m going to buy those things for my kids no matter what. You don’t need to go sponsoring a bowl game in Orlando to make your business work. Just stop.

But I know you won’t. And these games, which are run by bowl executives who get rich off the notion that these games are meaningful for fans and the city’s that host them, aren’t about to cede any of this ground. So bowl games will continue to be a thing.

It’s just time we fully admitted that, outside of the College Football Playoff, bowl games are fake. They do not matter.

The true value of a bowl game for any team is that it gets to practice for an extra month or so. That’s a GIGANTIC benefit. The game at the end is … whatever. It could end up being an awful thing, like it was for Miami, which lost one of the most electric players in college football for an extended time. King will likely be fine, but the missed developmental time is a bummer and there remains a chance he’ll permanently lose strength in his knee.

Coaches continue to take bowl games seriously because the wins count toward their record and some of them have bowl-related bonuses. We need to wipe all of that out. There’s no point in pretending these games matter and that top players should take the risk of playing through them.

King should have played a series or two at most. He could have traveled to the game and taken part in whatever bowl festivities might have occurred (less than usual this year, I’m sure.) Continue the pomp and circumstance, sure, but downplay the game.

Perhaps this would hurt a bowl’s ability to generate money; maybe fewer fans want to travel to see the backups, and TV deals shrink if interest does. But college fans live to thing about what’s next. Sell them on resting known stars and giving young players a chance.

A true fan would be fine with King taking it easy, since it’s good for the long-term health of the program.

And why does Robin care about future pros opting out? They earned that right, and it’s ultimately good for the program anyway: Get their potential replacements some playing time and see what you’ve got. Surely a diehard Gators fan cares about those kids getting an opportunity, too.

Bowl games are the equivalent of a soccer friendly. Every Rudy on every roster should get snaps as starters phase out of the game and the score ceases to matter. That’d be an honest approach to these meaningless games, and college football needs to reach that point.

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