College football’s worst nightmare could be an emerging trend. This week two players told their teams they would not be returning to the team after they recover from injury. Devon Allen informed the Oregon football team he would be focusing on his professional track career. Oklahoma’s Charles Walker is leaving Norman to prepare for the NFL. Allen suffered a knee injury in November. Norman was set to return after a concussion.
Make no mistake about it, these decisions were a monetary and business decision. Allen will need to train for the next Olympics, but his rehab could have factored in some work with the Oregon Ducks football team. Norman isn’t even a first day draft round talent. He will probably be taken early in the second day, but he is protecting himself from another injury that could drop his draft stock.
Players can take out injury insurance for falling in the draft, but those policies are often difficult to collect — just ask Marqise Lee. The best insurance is to just simply not play.
There have been multiple cases where it has been suggested that players simply sit out a year. Leonard Fournette is the current example — even though he is considering returning to LSU for some reason — because injuries can kill a running back’s stock. In reality, any stud true sophomore could consider sitting out their junior year. The NFL’s age limit restriction doesn’t give players another option.
If this becomes the norm for star players to sit out a year to protect themselves from injury and make sure they are drafted high that could be a problem for college football and the NFL. The effects on college football would be obvious. Star players sitting out makes the game less intriguing. Fewer people will watch. Players with name recognition may sit out, and people won’t buy tickets, tune in, or play attention.
The NFL may have a problem as well because there will simply be less tape on said player. The NFL is already dealing with the perceptionof quality of play issues. Drafting players with less experience and fewer minutes of tape could lead to bad draft picks or just bad players making it onto the field.
This all comes out of the fact that college athletes are not allowed to be paid. They need to protect their investment — which is themselves — and because there’s only one way to make money in football, that means college football could suffer.