Recruiting, Bowl Decisions Scuttle One Factor From College Game

Recruiting, Bowl Decisions Scuttle One Factor From College Game


Hop into the Wayback Machine and set the dials to December, 2017. In that timeframe, several West Virginia players announced they would be returning for their senior football seasons. From Will Grier to David Sills to Yodny Cajuste to Gary Jennings, all committed to being part of a team that could contend for a Big 12 Championship, and maybe more, in 2018.

Yodny Cajuste

“I’m excited to return to WVU and spend another year with a great group of teammates and be coached by the best offensive line coach in the country,” Cajuste said in a released statement from the WVU athletic department at the time. “I spent a lot of time talking with my family and coaches, putting much thought and prayer into this decision. Returning for my senior season gives me a chance to help this program make a championship run, and will further position me toward accomplishing my goals and dreams of playing in the NFL.”

File that away for a moment, because the words are revealing.

Now reset those dials for the late summer and fall of West Virginia’s football preseason. There were a handful of dominant themes there, Grier’s Heisman candidacy and Jennings’ lack of TDs being two, but perhaps the most overplayed of all was the loyalty theme, with a number of rising seniors returning to try to take West Virginia to heights it had never reached in the Big 12. Dotted liberally in there was the theme of loyalty, of commitment to the group, of tribute to all the work they had put in.

Once, though, the possibility of a championship evaporated, so too did that latter storyline, as Cajuste and Grier decided to forego their final bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Before we progress any further, I’m not laying any blame on either for their decisions, nor am I accusing either of letting down his teammates. That’s an issue that belongs between that duo and seniors who are sticking it out.  Cajuste and Grier are joined by, at this writing, 11 other players who are making the same choice.  That’s their right. They don’t deserve criticism for it.

Instead, the fault is probably more on us on us for buying in to the loyalty theme in the first place. It’s an easy line to follow,  the notions of playing for Old State U, and one that ignores the many different realities in the game of 2018. In these doubtful times, we shouldn’t be sucked in. But sometimes it happens.

Back to Cajuste’s statement. Not to parse it too harshly, but there’s a mention of a) making a championship run, and b) discussion of furthering NFL dreams. Nothing about sticking it out to the end with “a great group of teammates”. Again, I’m not criticizing him for anything he said, or for his motivations. It’s just to point out that some of the ideas ascribed to the college game, on the level of a “Band of Brothers” don’t apply, and thinking that they do takes observers down the wrong path.

From this angle, then, loyalty didn’t play a role. That’s also evident in recruiting, where the dance of scholarship offers, commitments and decommitments have been playing out for a lot longer than the phenomenon of players skipping bowl games. There hasn’t been loyalty on either side of that process in years, so should it be a surprise when it disappears from other areas of the game?

Again, there’s no blame being assigned here to either players or coaches. That’s the way the college game works these days — loyalty is an old-fashioned notion that may be practiced by a few individuals, but can’t be applied to decisions or programs as a whole. In about 99% of the cases where loyalty gets brought up, it’s not a consideration at all. It’s all about what’s best for the individual, again, be it player or coach. Accept that, whether you like it or not, and it will be much easier to understand those decisions.

 

 

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  • #77018

    Recruiting, Bowl Decisions Scuttle One Factor From College Game Hop into the Wayback Machine and set the dials to December, 2017. In that timeframe,[See the full post at: Recruiting, Bowl Decisions Scuttle One Factor From College Game]

    #77032

    Great commentary. I detest the lack of loyalty in today’s game. That goes for players, recruits and coaches. Sad really.

    #77039

    It bothers me too, but it’s just gotten to the point where it can’t be ignored. Anytime I hear that word thrown about in the future, I’m not accepting it blindly. There’s going to be more questions behind it.

    #77052

    “Returning for my senior season gives me a chance to help this program make a championship run, and will further position me toward accomplishing my goals and dreams of playing in the NFL.”

    I don’t see in the above statement that Yodny or any of his teammates did anything other than what they said they would do. They came back and attempted to win a Big 12 championship unfortunately that did not happen. They stayed the full season and now do not want to risk an injury in a meaningless bowl game. There’s no doubt in my mind that if they were playing for a chance at a championship or a major bowl they would have stayed. I just want to thank them for coming back and attempting to make the run. Best of luck to them in the future and hopefully many of them will get a chance at their NFL dream.

    #77075

    Is a Bowl game, meaningless as you may think it may be, not part of the year’s games? Don’t you think that the rest of the team may want to win this game? Don’t you think the rest of the 85 schollie players and multiple walk ons deserve to have the best players on the field so that would give them the best chance of winning the game? Don’t you thin they deserve to be in this game.

    This recent phenomenon of skipping bowl games hurts the program….. and the rest of the team ….. teammates that supported each other for all those years.

    #77109

    I agree Totaly !!!!

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Home forums Recruiting, Bowl Decisions Scuttle One Factor From College Game