If Jadeveon Clowney and Colt Lyerla wanted to forego the college football season in order to stay healthy for the upcoming NFL Draft, more power to them.
I couldn't blame them for wanting to maximize the impending millions of dollars they could earn. But to bail out on their teammates and create distractions, Clowney and Lyerla are diluting the college football product and worse yet for the individuals involved, they're hurting their draft stock more than helping it.
There's a bunch that's gone unsaid publicly regarding the former Oregon tight end and the still current South Carolina defensive lineman, and that doesn't help public perception. Fans and media are allowed to fill in the blanks themselves, and that often times is more hurtful than helpful.
Clowney held himself out of the Gamecocks' game last weekend against Kentucky citing a muscle strain in his ribs but not informing the coaching staff until the morning of the game. When injuries are involved, players will always get the benefit of the doubt, but the lack of communication between the star defender and his coaches reeked of immaturity.
Coach Steve Spurrier did well to diffuse the situation this week saying everyone handled it poorly, more or less referring to himself, Clowney and even the media. But it seems with every passing week, another red flag arises surrounding Clowney.
As long as he doesn't suffer a devastating injury, Clowney is still destined to be a first round draft choice. But the more problems that arise, the more his stock drops. The difference between being the No. 1 overall draft choice and going outside the top five can cost him millions.
The situation in Oregon is even more confusing now that Lyerla has left the program for personal reasons.
Earlier in the season, Lyerla missed the Tennessee game due to injury and then was suspended last week against Colorado for unspecified reasons, but his divorce from the Ducks reportedly didn't have to do with either of those incidents. At least that's the word from Lyerla and the University, neither side wanting to be totally forthcoming about the reasons, although it's hard to believe the suspension didn't at least play into the larger picture of Lyerla's dissatisfaction of the Oregon program.
Playing an H-back role, Lyerla is one of the better tight end prospects in the country, but outside of the Ducks' season opener when he scored a touchdown, he only touched the ball one more time this season.
There's rumors about Lyerla's off-field issues, but reading between the lines, one could also surmise the talented prospect was also unhappy about his lack of touching the football. Rob Rang of CBSSports.com has dropped Lyerla out of his first round mock draft after previously being in it.
Everyone understands you can't major in football in college, but suck it up and stick it out. If you're draft eligible, you'll be playing in the NFL soon enough.
But by quitting, Lyerla has gone from potential first-round prospect to mid-round prospect as teams become wary of his attitude and work ethic.
Where College GameDay Is At
Had Colt Lyerla stuck around, he would had the opportunity to be in the national spotlight as Oregon visits Washington for the first ever broadcast of the popular ESPN pre-game show from Seattle.
Oregon had better be on alert, because this is the best Washington team since at least the the early 2000s, and the skill-position talent is truly remarkable.
Washington feeds running back Bishop Sankey over 26 times per game on average, ranking second in the country, and he gets the job done, averaging 146.4 rushing yards per game.
When they're not running the football, the Huskies do almost as well through the air behind quarterback Keith Price who's completing over 70 percent of his passes to one of the better receiving corps in the nation with targets such as Kasen Williams, Jaydon Mickens and Kevin Smith.
The question is whether the Washington defense is able to slow down the fast-paced Oregon attack that's elite even with running back DeAnthony Thomas, who's questionable with an ankle injury.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota will still deftly operate a high-scoring offense that looks to trade score for score with the Huskies.
Prediction: If Washington were playing any other team at home other than the No. 2 team in the nation, they'd probably win. But they're not afforded that luxury. Ducks win in a shootout 48-40. Game time is at 3:00 p.m. CT on Fox Sports 1.
The Wisconsin Connection
Wisconsin had the benefit of a bye coming off their draining, nationally televised, primetime loss to Ohio State.
Northwestern isn't so lucky, forced to play a second straight week against a difficult opponent as they travel to Camp Randall this weekend for a game that kicks off at 2:30 p.m. on ABC.
Not that Saturday is going to be a breeze for Wisconsin. For my money, Northwestern is the best team in the Big Ten Leaders division. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they just so happen to kick off their conference schedule against the two best teams in the Legends.
The offense has plenty of talent between the quarterback duo of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian and the running back pair of Venric Mark and Treyvon Green. And now that Mark is back from his early-season injury, the Wildcasts offense is even more dangerous.
The biggest problem for Northwestern is that they don't have a player like their coach Pat Fitzgerald on their defense. Defensive end Tyler Scott and safety Ibraheim Campbell are nice players, but they're not difference makers like Chris Borland is on the Badgers defense.
Northwestern will have a problem stopping the power run game of Wisconsin and star Melvin Gordon just like they did against Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, who ran for 168 yards and three touchdowns last weekend. Don't be surprised to see Gordon put up similar numbers.
The Badgers will also be buoyed by the return of several injured players following the bye, including tight end Jacob Pedersen, center Dallas Lewallen, receiver Kenzel Doe and linebacker Brendan Kelly.
Prediction: Northwestern is better equipped to defeat Wisconsin than a lot of other teams on their schedule, but the Badgers will come up with the win 30-24.
What Happened Before Saturday
It was only one game, but USC seemed like a new team under interim head coach Ed Orgeron in his first game since taking over for Lane Kiffin on Thursday evening.
USC's biggest fault through the first few games of the season has been an inconsistent offense, which is why it was so important for them to score 38 points in a seven-point win over Arizona.
Even without the services of the best wide receiver in the nation (Marqise Lee), quarterback Cody Kessler threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns, although his 50 percent completion percentage left much to be desired. But at least he took a step in the right direction.
Early-season losses to Washington State and Arizona State have all but assured USC isn't going to be in Rose Bowl contention, but if they can start to build momentum under Orgeron, they could set themselves up for some of the Pac-12's better bowl tie-ins by season's end, such as the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl.
A road game next week at Notre Dame will be a better indication of how good USC is with Kiffin gone.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email email@example.com.
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