I always throught the collapse of the ludicrous college bowl structure would come from ESPN no longer being able to find gullible corporations to sponsor the myriad of meaningless games that exist strictly to give them live content at this time of year. The two bowl games played this week were sponsored solely by the Chambers of Commerce for Miami Beach and Boca Raton (which disappointingly was not played at Del Boca Vista in the middle of the afternoon so that attendees could still make it to the eat at the Early Bird Specials). There are four bowls this year with no title sponsor--meaning ESPN is likely taking a bath on the costs of putting on the games.
But a new trend developing this year is serving as an even greater threat to the meaningless bowls--players refusing to play. LSU's Leonard Fournette and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey have both announced they are going to sit out their team's bowl games--so they don't risk injury before the NFL draft. Both are considered to be potential first round draft picks--so some big bucks are on the line. That has to give many other top pro prospects cause to consider whether they should play an extra game (or if they are in the College Football Playoff--two more games) for no financial benefit.
Imagine you are LSU's interim coach (they fired Les Miles mid-season) and Stanford's head coach and the guys that you have built your offenses around are voluntarily walking away from giving you a chance to win. You probably still want to play the game--but your level of focus and excitement probably went down a few notches after their announcements. And if you are one of the other kids who will still take the field for the bowls you have to wonder in the back of your mind if it's really worth it for you to still play.
We even had an entire team threaten to boycott their bowl game. Every member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers threatened to boycott all football activities through the end of the season as a protest for the suspension of ten teammates for allegations of sexual assault of another student. None of the players were criminally charged--but burden of proof and probable cause no longer exist on campuses dealing with the "threat of rape culture" don't care about that. Over the weekend, the players capitulated and returned to prepare for their butt whipping in the Holiday Bowl.
But it can't be too long before an entire team--whether it be loaded with future pros or aggrieved victims of the war on "toxic masculinity"--decides it has no interest in a couple more weeks of practice and a trip to Detroit for the Motor City Bowl--when they could be home with their families for the holidays--or not taking more blows to the head to increase their odds of developing CTE in middle age.