TCU coach Gary Patterson said he is “not surprised at all” that players are choosing to skip bowl games in favor of preparing for the NFL draft. He said he knew it was coming.
“I told people five years ago, when they went to a championship game and playoff games that these guys were going to start doing that,” Patterson said Tuesday after his team’s seventh practice for the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30 against Georgia. “I’m not surprised at all. I mean, it’s their future.”
Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Baylor running back Shock Linwood have split public opinion since announcing they won’t play in their teams’ bowl games. McCaffrey and Fournette are recovering from injuries, but Linwood has not played since he was suspended for actions on the sideline in the TCU game on Nov. 5.
Patterson acknowledged mixed emotions on the issue.
I understand it, but I don’t understand it, as a coach.
TCU coach Gary Patterson, on players skipping bowl games to focus on NFL preparation
“I understand it, but I don’t understand it, as a coach,” he said. “As a player, I understand. I also understand that they’re protecting their assets. But they’re also sending a message to the NFL a little bit. There’ll be coaches up there — because I’ve known the NFL group for a long time — that’ll judge that as a positive; some will judge that as a negative.”
Patterson said he’d follow the same personal policy for a player considering skipping a bowl game as he does for a player considering leaving school early for the NFL draft. He’d give them both sides and let them decide.
“I’m not going to be to blame,” he said. “I’m going to be the coach. I’m going to give them what I think. I’ll do my due diligence, I’ll ask the NFL guys, find out what they really think, not what the scouts say, not what the third-party runners say, not what all the other people say. I’ll ask the people that actually count, and I’ll give them what I know.”
Patterson said every individual is different, but reiterated that the issue was predictable.
“I was telling people once we started going to championship games and playoff games and going to 12 or 13 ballgames that seniors were going to start protecting themselves,” he said. “I haven’t been shocked at all that this has come down.”