By Will Burchfield
In contrast to LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, Michigan tight end Jake Butt will suit up in his team’s end-of-the-year bowl game. But he won’t judge the former two for choosing to do the opposite.
In fact, Butt brought some interesting perspective to the topic when asked about it on Wednesday.
“Why aren’t we talking about coaches leaving their bowl games early and leaving all their players behind?” Butt said, via 24/7 Sports. “Coaches can leave. Players can’t leave; players can’t transfer just because their coaches leave. Coaches can come and go as they please. When more money is placed on the table, the coach will most likely chase after that.”
Former Houston coach Tom Herman, for example, ditched his team ahead of its bowl game versus San Diego State to accept a new head coaching position with Texas, one that will pay him $28.75 million over the next five years. The Cougars went on to lose the Las Vegas Bowl, 34-10.
Fournette and McCaffrey, meanwhile, have decided to end their seasons early to prepare for the NFL Draft. Both are projected as first-round picks, giving them the opportunity to sign lucrative contracts flush with guaranteed money.
“Here we are living off rent checks,” Butt went on. “Guy sees an opportunity for a lifelong dream for the NFL and makes a business decision. I can’t judge anybody. I don’t know what all went into that decision, and I’m not going pretend to know. I’m not going to judge or act on that. I support those guys. Best of luck to them.”
Butt didn’t advocate college players receiving full-time pay, nor did he suggest coaches should be penalized for leaving their teams early. But he later explained how tightly a player’s hands can be tied by the NCAA’s compliance rules.
“The way I always look at it is, if Billy Bob walks down the street and goes to Chipotle, befriends the manager and gets a free Chipotle burrito, and then if one of us walks into Chipotle, we can’t accept that burrito.
The way the NCAA looks at it – we have enough compliance meetings – the way that I understand it is that every friend we make is because we’re a football player. They said we can’t even go out to dinner with our girlfriend’s parents. Our girlfriend’s parents can’t take us out to dinner, because who knows. There’s so much that goes into it. I don’t know. There’s no clear answer.”