The Michigan Wolverines will be without a few familiar faces in the Peach Bowl, as Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, and Karan Higdon all will be sitting out to focus on the NFL Draft process.
In recent years it’s become more of a common occurrence seeing players that are destined to play in the NFL forego playing in their bowl game, and it’s a trend that should be respected.
These young men are on the cusp of making millions of dollars playing the game they love. Football is a brutal sport, devastating injuries can happen at any moment, and for guys like Bush, Gary, and Higdon, an injury in the Peach Bowl would be a sad state of affairs.
An injury in their last collegiate game could do serious damage to their draft stock. All three players have suited up for dozens of games and gave it their all wearing maize and blue, they’ve all shown their love for Michigan fans and the university, so it’s time to say goodbye and thank them for their efforts.
I’m not asking fans to love the fact players are sitting out, but I’m asking them to be reasonable and see the risk and reward of them playing in the Peach Bowl.
Millions of dollars are on the line, people!
Taking a look on Twitter, the Michigan fanbase is very much divided and some are of the ‘get off my lawn!’ variety. Stop.
Here’s a take I’m seeing a lot of about Higdon:
I don’t think he should play in the senior bowl or participate at the combine either. Why risk it?— Kevin Kerbrat (@kevinkerbrat) December 20, 2018
A ton of people have this train of thought, and it’s just wrong. The Senior Bowl, which Higdon will be playing in, is a huge deal. Representatives from every NFL teams will be there throughout the week of practices conducting interviews and watching the players go through drills. Draft stocks can rise greatly or fall significantly depending on how a player fares at the Senior Bowl. And it goes without saying how big the NFL Scouting Combine is. Both of these events have hundreds of staff members from the NFL involved, the Peach Bowl does not have that element.
A week at the Senior Bowl in front of scouts and coaches can help him move up draft boards. Could be much more impactful than playing in the Peach Bowl for his NFL prospects.— The Michigan Insider (@michiganinsider) December 20, 2018
Spot on, Michigan Insider.
Karan Higdon has played in 39 college football games and carried the ball 471 times. NFL teams know how he runs, trust me.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 20, 2018
The Senior Bowl and being healthy for the scouting week leading up to it is -- in every way -- more valuable to his draft stock than the Peach Bowl. https://t.co/ppg4wwi18c
It’s December 20th, the Senior Bowl is next month, the NFL Combine a month thereafter. Time flies, and now is the time for Bush, Higdon, and Gary to start training and devoting their mental energy and physical exertion on the next chapter of their careers.
Do you think Jim Harbaugh is upset that the trio are skipping the Peach Bowl?
Jim Harbaugh last night on Devin Bush, Jr.'s lasting legacy at Michigan. pic.twitter.com/scWcpCUzSP— Aaron McMann (@AaronMcMann) December 20, 2018
No. He appreciates what they’ve done for the program. And as Von Lozon noted, Higdon, Bush, and Gary sitting out the Peach Bowl paves the way for their replacements to receive meaningful snaps before the 2019 season.
But the ‘get off my lawn’ people are still a loud voice that are on the wrong side of the argument, they aren’t seeing the reality of the matter. And we even have head coaches who fit this description. Enter Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio.
Here’s Mark Dantonio’s full comments on Justin Layne skipping the bowl game pic.twitter.com/GQuljPMGVf— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) December 19, 2018
“Yeah, disappointing,” Dantonio said. “Everybody these days has a different philosophy on how these things are working out. My philosophy is you finish. You finish the season, that includes bowl games or playoff games.”
It’s not a good look for a head coach to call out a player, it’s not a good look for a head coach to make the announcement a player will be heading to the NFL. Harbaugh is the polar opposite of Dantonio on both fronts, as he always says he will let players announce that they will be declaring for the NFL Draft. Further, fans hearing a head coach talk like this fuels their own feelings that players should in fact play in the bowl game, no matter what the risk is. God forbid a player sits out the all important REDBOX BOWL.
There are still a lot of reasons Michigan fans should tune into the Peach Bowl, lots of reasons why the Wolverine players are going to give their all on December 29th. There just happens to be more reasons for Bush, Higdon, and Gary to sit the game out. Both things can be true at the same time.
We should all be happy that these athletes are about to make a dream come true, they are going to be drafted by an NFL team, they are going to get PAID. Their decision is a no-brainer, so put some respect on it.