UCF coordinator: Players who skip bowl games likely to 'tank' in NFL

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- UCF defensive coordinator Randy Shannon thinks college players who are deciding to skip bowl games to prepare for the NFL draft will one day decide to not suit up for certain games in the professional ranks.

Speaking a few days before the No. 8 Knights face No. 11 LSU in the Fiesta Bowl, Shannon said he doesn't fault players for leaving early. However, he said it might be hard to get a certain mindset out of a player's head.

"My opinion, it probably will fester more and more in college. And then now the NFL is going to have to make a decision," Shannon said. "If you draft a young man that leaves early and now you're not a playoff team, that young man [is] going to say, 'I'm not going to play.' Same situation. Right, wrong or indifferent."

Shannon was a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 and 1990 before embarking on what has become a 27-year coaching career that has included a four-year stretch as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes and a brief stint as Florida's interim coach last season.

He believes "a lot of coaches will think that way" about players who opt out of bowl games.

"If a team is 6-9, no chance of them making the playoffs, are they going to play or are they going to tank it?" Shannon said. "Especially if you're on the last year of your contract, option year."

LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, one of the highest-profile players from the Fiesta Bowl teams and a projected top-five NFL draft pick, decided in early December to skip the game to avoid an injury and begin preparing for the draft.

To Shannon, players who like bowl games will decide to play in them.

But when he looks at how players who skip their bowl games might behave in the NFL, Shannon is reminded of Jimmy Johnson, his former coach at Miami. Shannon said Johnson used to say that players who make mistakes off the field make the same mistakes on the field.

Johnson also had another saying, Shannon said: "What you see is what you're going to get. So don't cover up your eyes and say, 'I can change him.'"

"In recruiting, it's the same thing," Shannon said. "You see things in recruiting and you say, 'Oh, I can change him. Oh, I can change him.'

"If the guy's been doing that for 18 years, there's nothing you can change about him."