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Hogs' NFL Prospects Have Earned Right to Skip Bowl Without Fans Getting Mad

Players stuck around when fans bailed, now time to do what's best for them

UPDATE: Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks has announced he will opt out of the Outback Bowl and declare for the NFL draft.

Burks opts out

It's official. Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks will opt out of the Outback Bowl to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft. Burks improved his stock during an awe-inspring performance against No. 1 Alabama. 

Several other Arkansas players will have a difficult decision to make over the next couple of weeks as well. Do they go to the Outback Bowl and risk a career-altering injury, or, like Burks, do they skip the game and risk Arkansas fans being mad at them for a little while?

Potential disrespect and anger from fans shouldn’t be something these players have to consider when making career decisions. They’ve earned that right.

The Arkansas program was in the dumps a few years ago. The Hogs were a Power 5 school that couldn’t beat the lowest of Group of 5 teams.

Yet, many of the players who have a legitimate decision to make stuck with this team even when the fans wouldn’t.

It’s been taken for granted that so many talented athletes stayed around. Just take a glance west to what is left of Oklahoma’s roster to see how this generation usually reacts when things aren’t ideal.

By the time the Sooners enter their bowl game, there might not be enough players left to field a team. That could and possibly should have been Arkansas two years ago.

Sam Pittman-LSU

Sam Pittman hoping Hogs' opt-outs at minimum for bowl game.

Fans want to argue that players need to finish out their scholarships. They owe it to the university to earn their money by not skipping the bowl.

The problem with such logic is anyone not coming back in the spring has already played his scholarship out.

The term ends on Dec. 9. The university isn’t going to kick in for extra free classes if a Razorback puts in an extra three weeks of work.

There will be several who stick around.

As Sam Pittman said in his press conference Sunday afternoon, a lot of these guys want one last run with the team, and the experience of going to a bowl is something the majority of them have never experienced.

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But for players who legitimately fall into the first three rounds, the tradeoff of a bowl experience might not hold as much value as an extra month at a performance facility getting ready for the combine.

What tape can Treylon Burks, Grant Morgan, or any of the other NFL prospects on this team add to what is already out there from a glorified exhibition game?

Is an Outback Bowl swag bag going to put food on the table or pay the bills in the long run?

What will raise value is shaving a tenth of a second off a 40-time. A few extra reps gained on the bench press or another inch of vertical leap has significant impact either way.

Hours practicing how to handle the highly personal and sometimes borderline inappropriate questions in the team interviews can make or break a player.

One slip-up that indicates an athlete can’t handle whatever questions a large market media member can dig up can take a player completely off a team’s board.

When Arkansas hired PIttman on Dec. 8, 2019, Arkansas fans didn’t clamor for him to stick around in Athens until after Georgia’s Jan. 1 game against Baylor.

That was the Sugar Bowl, a much bigger bowl, and Pittman was being paid.

Treylon Burks

Treylon Burks has decision to make.

They wanted him on the road recruiting so he could have the best chance to show what he can do in his new job. If no one complains about coaches doing what’s best for their families and careers, athletes should be able to do the same.

These players have played injured, not hurt. They have performed in empty stadiums. They had to experience the “Club Dub” first hand.

They stuck around when Razorback Nation didn’t and dragged this team back to a high level of respect.

Now it’s time fans and this program reflect that respect back should one or more decide to do what is best for his future.

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