Videos by OutKick
The Big Ten has 9 teams playing in bowl games and from Minnesota taking on West Virginia in on December 28 to Ohio State playing Utah on January 1. While every game provides opportunities for the star players to “opt out” if they are keeping score the games still count.
Matt Corral on playing in the Sugar Bowl even though it’s a “meaningless game”— Unnecessary Roughness (@UnnecRoughness) December 14, 2021
"I wouldn't be in this position w/o them. I won't just leave. I know what's on the other side but I'm gonna give these guys everything I got."
There was a day where conferences were judged off their bowl record. It was a chance for every conference to test their strength relative to the other conferences across the country. Much of the success depended on matchups and the health of each team, but those days appear to be long gone.
Now, thanks to the coaching carousal, many teams are playing games with interim coaches and staffs that have been cobbled together. Coordinators are elevated to head coaches, position coaches are calling plays, and graduate assistants are running position groups. For more than a handful of teams it’s an absolute mess.
In the middle of everything are the players. Those who have chosen to play get to enjoy a brief trip (hopefully to somewhere warm) and one additional game in their collegiate career. The handful of days spent leading up to the bowl game can be some of the memorable of their career. Enjoying some of the local nightlife before waking up for an early practice are some of the most bonding moments of a career.
Mike Leach: Players opting out of bowl games is "one of the biggest absurdities that I've seen."— Andy Kostka (@afkostka) December 11, 2021
"You owe it to your team, you owe it to your fans, you owe it to your coaches and it’s the most bizarre thing in the world to me."https://t.co/3KUMlaDVCZ
However, there is the “other side” of bowl preparation. For the teams who have coaching continuity and stability it’s a chance to develop young players. That means live and intense practices.
After game planning is finished with the starters there’s the chance to get the young players some work. At the end of practice many coaches will take the 1st and 2nd year players and have them square off in in “full go” situations. These are invaluable reps for young players who haven’t had much game experience. These practices are tough and rugged, but it gives the younger players a chance to establish themselves before the new recruits arrive for spring ball.
It’s a huge opportunity… and one that would be terrible to waste.
So, while coaches are busy signing their new recruiting class and digging through the transfer portal, there are young players battling to get a leg up on the incoming competition. Hopefully all the young players realize the opportunity that is in front of them. The problem is that most of these practices feel close to summer training camp and it’s much easier to try to survive as opposed to thrive. Do bowl games still matter? To