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There is No I in Team....But There Is in Recruiting

Once the college game becomes a nursery for professional gladiators, we shall have to plow up our football fields…... The day boys play with one eye on the university and the other on professional futures, the sport will become a moral liability to the colleges.” --Amos Alonzo Stagg 1929

After Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and LSU’s Leonard Fournette announced they’d skip their bowl games to focus on the NFL Draft there was a predictable amount of hand-wringing. Would these two guys start an annual exodus of players skipping their teams’ bowl games?

They were criticized for putting their careers above the team’s goals. But this development should not be a surprise. Look at recruiting and you’ll see where the seeds for these decisions were sown. College coaches repeatedly sell their programs as the pathway to a long NFL career of riches. High school players are encouraged in recruiting to build their brand and social media following. Before many have even set foot in a college classroom they’ve built a near-celebrity persona that supersedes the team ethos.

For these young men, while the old adage says there is “no I in team”…but “there are two “Is” in recruiting.” When you start by selling them, their families and friends on the idea they must build their brand on their path to the NFL we should not be shocked when an individual decision for their own future clashes with the team’s goal.