By Steve Williams

College football would eventually suffer if more and more high-profile players do like LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffery did and skip their bowl games to prepare for the NFL draft.

This would particularly be true if big-name players pulled out of the Final Four playoff games and other high-paid bowl games.

Such developments would reduce fans’ interest in those games and in turn reduce what television networks would want to pay for the rights to these games. Less money for the colleges would also take money out of the coaches’ pockets. It would have a trickledown effect.

The NFL, in a way, already has seen this happen with its Pro Bowl game.

Football is a popular game, but even this sport can’t maintain popularity without its star players.

Doing what Fournette and McCaffery did may be in their best interests, but it’s not good for the game.


MORE MOSTELLA: Detrick Mostella’s recent scoring surge hopefully earned him a starting berth in the Tennessee lineup for its conference opener at Texas A&M last week.

Mostella pretty much single-handily carried UT to a 72-68 victory in a rare road game at East Tennessee State and that performance earned the junior wing from Decatur, Ala., the SEC Player of the Week award. UT hadn’t played in Johnson City since 1963.

Mostella’s career-high 25 points at ETSU raised his average to 17.7 for the three games prior to the A&M game in College Station. In that stretch, he was hitting 46.2 percent from the field and 90 percent from the line.

The Vols are scheduled to host Arkansas tonight before going to Florida Saturday.


TRIPLE TROUBLE: Just when I was on my way to buy a Titans’ cap and jump on the bandwagon, Tennessee suffered what felt like three losses in one day on Christmas eve.

First, the Jacksonville Jaguars put it all together for the first time this season and had the Titans down 25-17 when quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered a fractured fibula. That injury didn’t help any comeback hopes and Tennessee limped back to Nashville a 38-17 loser.

With their playoff destiny now in the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals in the Sunday night game against Houston, the Titans still had playoff hopes minus Mariota, but Bengals kicker Randy Bullock missed a potential game-winning 43-yard field goal for the third loss of the day.

Before all this happened, the Titans had won four of five games, including victories over the Packers, Broncos and Chiefs. In fact, after Tennessee beat Denver, play-by-play guy Mike Keith said it was the “biggest win for the organization in eight years.”


HERE’S ERIK: A big change in local radio sports talk starts today when former Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge joins WNML 990 programming with a 9 a.m. to 12 noon weekday show, replacing the News-Sentinel Sports Page that had aired from 10 o’clock to noon.

The 30-year-old Ainge, having played college and pro football and coming from a basketball family, is able to give listeners a unique perspective from a former athlete’s viewpoint.

I wish we weren’t losing the Sports Page show, but I am looking forward to listening to Ainge. And an hour less of Doc is a bonus, too.