A Holiday Bowl boycott is taking place, with the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team making a stand against the suspensions that 10 of the players have received from the program. Minnesota is scheduled to play the Washington State Cougars in the Holiday Bowl on December 27, but the team might not be willing to show up to the game. A new report by CBS Sports highlights some of the possibilities of what could take place if the Holiday Bowl boycott continues.
Minnesota already accepted the Holiday Bowl invite to play WSU and has been selling tickets to fans all across the country. The school is still committed to participating in the game, even though many players within the football program are proclaiming that the boycott will stand until suspensions are lifted. Minnesota is responsible for selling its allotment of tickets, and refusing to show up to a bowl game could lead to other consequences for the University of Minnesota.
A report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune broke the news about the suspensions, though it didn't give exact details about why it took so long for the school to make the announcement. An attorney for several of the suspended players stated that it is the end result of a university investigation into sexual assault accusations. Four players were suspended for the first three games of the college football season after a woman accused the players of sexual assault. She would later receive a settlement and legal charges against the players were dropped.
The Holiday Bowl boycott is in response to the newest suspensions, with the football program suspending 10 players, but not revealing publicly the reason for the ban. The 10 players are Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Chenault, Mark Williams, and Antoine Winfield, Jr. Their teammates are standing up for the 10 suspended players, making an announcement of their own on December 15 that they would not be participating in any team activities either.
Washington State and Minnesota received and accepted invites to play in the 2016 Holiday Bowl as representatives of the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences. If Minnesota had originally declined the invite, it would have gone to another qualified team from the Big Ten. At this point, it is now too late for the conference to put a new team in the slot, especially since all other qualified schools have accepted invites to other games. This creates a scenario where the Holiday Bowl may have to invite a school that finished the season with a 5-7 record to replace Minnesota.
The first school in line to replace Minnesota would be Northen Illinois, as the team has the best resume in the ranking system. NIU has been on break since December 9, with the football team scattered across the country, suggesting that the team would pass on an invitation. After that, an invitation could go to California or Arizona State, should either school want to go to a bowl game at this late date. It would leave very little time to prepare, though both teams did play (and lost to) WSU during the Pac-12 regular season.
As it currently stands, the Washington State vs. Minnesota Holiday Bowl is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT on December 27. ESPN will air the game for a national audience and quite a few players from both sides are hoping to improve their "stock" for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. The question that many college football fans want an answer to is whether the Minnesota Golden Gophers are even going to show up for the game. The Holiday Bowl boycott continues, though, with no end in sight, especially since the program has not hinted at reducing or removing the 10 suspensions.
[Featured Image by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images]