Mississippi State’s Mike Leach complains about bowl game opt-outs

Unsurprisingly, Mike Leach has something to say about a recent trend in college football.

The Mississippi State head coach, currently preparing for a matchup against Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl, lamented the idea of a NFL prospects opting out of bowl games to protect their health, according to the Clarion Ledger’s Andy Kostka:

“You’ve got an obligation to the place that helped build and develop you and finish it out in the bowl,” Leach said. “That’s part of it. You owe it to your team, you owe it to your fans, you owe it to your coaches and it’s the most bizarre thing in the world to me.

“Somebody says, ‘Well, I can’t play one more game,’” Leach continued. “They think they’re going to have a storied 10-year NFL career, and then they can’t play one more college game. Well, that’s ridiculous. I mean, guys will go to the NFL, they’ll make the Pro Bowl and then they’ll play in the Pro Bowl. It’s one of the biggest absurdities that I’ve seen, and it’s selfish, too.”

Leach reportedly didn’t call out any player by name and said he didn’t know if any if any of his players were opting out, though you’d imagine the topic was on his mind for a reason. 

Offensive tackle Charles Cross is considered a potential first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft and reportedly didn’t practice on Saturday, while cornerback Martin Emerson has already said he will leave Starkville early — something else Leach isn’t a fan of — but did practice on Saturday.

Top draft prospects forgoing bowl games to avoid a potentially costly injury is almost never uncontroversial. Leach is obviously part of the old school camp that values tradition and the pressure of loyalty that comes with it, but as the sport keeps looking more and more like a business, it shouldn’t be a surprise that players are making a business decision when they are directly incentivized.

It’s also not like Leach has demonstrated a firm code of loyalty in his career. Just last year, he reacted to an ugly loss by saying he was considering a roster purge. 


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