Jayden Daniels’ explanation why he missed LSU’s bowl game is trouble for NCAA football

Jayden Daniels’ explanation why he missed LSU’s bowl game is trouble for NCAA football

Jayden Daniels should be the cover man on EA Sports College Football video game when it’s released this summer; no player embodies this era of NCAA football better than Daniels.

He took advantage of the transfer portal to play immediately, from a Pac-12 school to the SEC. He cashed in with NIL money at LSU. He was done with college football before the college football season was over.

That is today’s top college player; they exploit a system that now favors the quarterback, tight end or linebacker almost as much as his coach. That’s no knock.

As such Daniels is the one who should be able to offer solutions on how to “fix this.”

He didn’t necessarily “break this,” but rather the LSU quarterback followed the current parade of aspiring rich ducklings who side-step most of college football’s postseason in the name of injury prevention, and protecting their value for the NFL.

Daniels was in Fort Worth on Monday night to receive the Davey O’ Brien award, given annually to the nation’s top college quarterback. He also won the Heisman Trophy.

“I never got into this game for money or the fame; I played this game for the love and the joy,” Daniels said Monday at the Fort Worth Club. “The passion I have for football is the same when I was a little kid without having any worries in the world.”

That’s true. And, it’s not.

In January, he became the first player to win the Heisman Trophy to skip his team’s bowl game. His LSU Tigers played Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl on New Year’s Day.

He will not be the last Heisman winner to play this card. The next “landmark opt out” will be the college player who realizes winning a playoff game means as much to his bank account as does playing in the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana Bowl, and blows off the national quarterfinal.

After all, a college player could play an additional three “worthless” postseason games.

Until that big day comes, the TV executives, college presidents, major conference commissioners and certain big “education administrators” are tasked to figure out how to entice a kid to play a sport that increasingly rewards those who avoid actually playing it.

The amount of money floating around the NFL and major NCAA programs is such that the best players, no matter how much they love the game, want any part of the game unless they get a big cut. (As an adult who pays bills, I get it.)

I asked Mr. Daniels what college football can do to entice players, like him, to play in games that are not affiliated with the playoff.

“It will be different now with the 12 team playoff; so college football is already moving in the right direction,” he said. “I wish I was able to have a 12-team playoff. At the end of the day, athletes are going to make the best decision for what they feel their life can do moving forward for them.

“At the end of the day, I never judge anyone making the best decision for themselves.”

Nor should any one else.

His answers say it all.

Until college football tethers a check to playing in the second and third tier bowls, nothing will stop the exodus of players posting on their social media accounts how much they love their school, coaches and teammates with the punctuating line of: “With that being said, I’m outta here.”

Daniels’ further explanation behind his decision to not play in LSU’s bowl game spells out the unwritten reality of most of college football’s postseason: It’s a spring game.

“I’m never worried about an injury; you can tell by the way I play,” he said of the factors that went into his decision to skip the bowl game. “I felt like I gave college football my all. I worked hard to be in the position I am in today.

“Also, I don’t want to selfishly take away from (LSU and quarterback Garrett Nussmeier). Garrett waited his turn. I did all I could do. I proved a lot in college football. I felt it was my time to move on, and it was his time to show not only the coaching staff and players but the fans of LSU what he can do in the future. They got an early glimpse of what he can do next year.”

Daniels said he and LSU coach Brian Kelly talked about the decision, and that both he, the staff and players all supported the conclusion.

Also, what are they going to say?

Everyone involved knows the score, and that certain scoreboards in college football no longer matter.

Jayden Daniels all but spelled it out.