To play or not to play: Players continue to sit out Sun Bowl

Sun Bowl

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – To play or not to play, that is the question. High-profiled players continue to sit out bowl games and it is a trend that began in El Paso at the Sun Bowl.

In 2016, Stanford running back Christian McCafrey decided to sit out the Cardinal’s Sun Bowl game against North Carolina. It was an unpopular decision at the time that has turned into a growing movement.

“We’re the ones who really started the trend with Christian McCafrey a few years ago, but look what happened, Bryce Love broke out at the Sun Bowl game,” said Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas. “He became one of the premiere rushers until he got hurt. It’s not about one or two players, it’s about the team.”

Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and running back Eno Benjamin will sit out this year’s Sun Bowl game. Florida State running back Cam Akers, defensive back Stanford Samuels III and defensive tackle Marvin Wilson (injury) have also elected to forgo the Sun Bowl to focus on the 2020 NFL Draft.

“You know as a coach there’s going to be guys that get into bowl games and elect not to play,” said Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards. “That doesn’t mean they’re not on the team. They helped us get to these bowl games. Let’s not lose sight of that. If they want to get ready for pro football, they have a right to do that.”

“The kids are going to do what’s best for them and I’m not going to condone a kid if they’re not playing,” said Florida State interim head coach Odell Haggins. “When you look at it, the kids give you a lot.”

While the decision to sit out bowl games is not a popular one with fan bases, players who elect to do so typically have the support of not only their coaches, but their teammates as well.

“From a teammate’s perspective, it’s do what’s best for you,” said Florida State junior linebacker Emmett Rice. “I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on money or things that can benefit their future. I don’t want anyone to miss out on that.”

“I have nothing against it,” said Arizona State freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels. “Eno Benjamin and BA {Brandon Aiyuk} decided to sit out. They’re just trying to make the best decision for themselves and their future.”

Kickoff for Tuesday’s Sun Bowl game is scheduled for 12 p.m. MT. Arizona State is currently a four-point favorite over Florida State.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Local Sports

More Local Sports