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Kirk Herbstreit

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Kirk Herbstreit Is Dead Wrong About Players Opting Out Of Bowl Games

Kirk Herbstreit
(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Gutter Ball Herbstreit

Kirk Herbstreit has spent many years as a college football analyst for ESPN. He’s one of the few dudes left from my childhood that’s still around. I remember first hearing him talk in the old NCAA Football games and college football does not sound the same without his voice. But despite that nostalgia soft spot, I’ve got to call him out on his take about players opting out of bowl games. Herbstriet, you’re dead wrong on this take.

Hey Nico, Want To Go Bowling?

Listen, I love all the bowl games. It’s super fun because there are actual stakes with these games. Even a game like the Bahamas Bowl that pitted the powerhouses of Middle Tennessee and Toledo has a trophy to play for at the end. My Arkansas Razorbacks had a good game and beat a bad Penn State team in the freaking Outback Bowl and my dad and I were pumped.

With that being said, we have to remember that these are real people with hopes and dreams of playing in the NFL. Yes, there are some players out there that a good bowl game can increase their draft stock, so the risk could potentially be worth the reward. But others know they are a lock to be a first-round pick or even a solid second or third-round pick. If they can’t improve their stock, play for a chip, or even play in a massive game like the Rose Bowl, what’s the point in playing?

I’ll use a homer example. Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks has been a beast this season and is a PFF darling. What more could he do in the Outback bowl to prove he belongs in the NFL? If it was something like the Sugar Bowl or if Arkansas was competing for a chip, that’s one thing. Even then, Burks would be risking a lot of money if he were to tear his ACL or break his arm or something.

Let’s take Kenny Pickett, someone who a lot of people have as top prospect in their mock drafts. What more does he have to prove by playing in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl? He took Pitt on an amazing ride and an ACC title, what does the Peach Bowl have to offer Pickett? Is he going to get any money in an NFL contract? Will he get drafted any higher? The answer to both is no. The only thing that could happen is he could get severely hurt and never be the same player, costing him and his family millions.

The Real Sellers

I get where Kirk Herbstreit is coming from, but just because the same system took advantage of you doesn’t mean it has to taken advantage of the modern athlete. I understand the respect for the game and for bowl games that are 100-years-old, but the bowl games sold out a long time ago. Every bowl game is presented by a sponsor. The Cotton Bowl was once the AT&T Cotton Bowl, now it’s the Goodyear Cotton Bowl.

There are advertisements everywhere. Multi-million dollar tv deals for the rights to broadcast these high-level games and sell ad space for much more. Ticket prices through the roof. Millions in revenue brought in by a single game, and the players see none of it.

Players will start to see some income from the new NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) deals, but it won’t touch what the universities make. Kids making it to the NFL means they know have life-changing money for themselves and their families. Money that they can turn around into business that creates generational wealth. They don’t participate in these lesser games because they don’t love football, but because they love their families. These players would not have gotten to this level and be considered as top prospects if they didn’t love the game and put in the work at super young ages.

Kirk Herbstreit is dead wrong with this take. I could maybe go on longer and give more examples, but I don’t want to spend all night writing this article. Herb needs to understand that it’s more than just about football. I and every other Arkansas fan wish nothing but the best for Burks and hope he gets the bag. Would it have been nice to have him today? Absolutly. But he now gets to chase his dreams and I support him.

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