Andrew Gilman

Houston’s King is sitting out the rest of the season – good for him

Houston’s King is sitting out the rest of the season – good for him

The self-inflicted benching of Houston quarterback D’Eriq King doesn’t smell right to most

Not to those who watch college football, cheer on a favorite team, or have any passing interest in sports.

King announced Monday he was choosing to sit out the rest of the season. The Houston quarterback isn’t injured, isn’t getting passed up on the depth chart and isn’t out of eligibility. He is, however, on a 1-3 team, and thanks to an NCAA rule, King can skip out on 2019 and not lose out on any eligibility for 2020 – when he says he’s going to come back and play quarterback for the Houston.

The NCAA says players can now play up to four games in a season and still redshirt. The rule makes sense when used without malice. It’s a chance for players to get some experience, for coaches to try out some new things. 

But everyone knows there are always loopholes and shortcuts. Most are saying King is taking advantage of the situation.

I agree. Good for him, and it’s  ‘bout time. 

We celebrate capitalism in every aspect of American life but sports, where we expect players to do what’s best, not just for them, but for the team. A player sits out a game because he wants to make sure he’s not hurt for a shot at upcoming NBA or NFL stardom, he’s selfish. A player goes back on the field with a concussion, or is hurt, well, good for him, he’s a “team guy.”

Perhaps King is sitting out because he’s selfish, wants to get ahead and has some sort of plan we’re not aware of. 

Fine by me. In fact, Oklahoma true freshman Jonathan Perkins announced Tuesday he’s entering the Transfer Portal. Why? OU isn’t the best option for him, in his opinion. It’s a purely capitalistic move, good for their business, whatever it may be. 

But King’s situation is different because he’s a starter. He might be the first in this situation, but he’s not going to be the last to try it and gain back a lot of what the NCAA has already claimed – turning players into labor machines who are unable to make money, work a job or benefit in the least from their likeness. Meanwhile, King’s university can do all of those things.

We’re not used to celebrating altruism in sports, Most of us don’t give extra credit for it. We expect our favorite players on our favorite teams to buy into a socialist way of thinking where players care less about their own personal gain and more about how they can benefit the team. That’s how fans think, sitting in the stands, wondering why players don’t care as much as they do. But players should only care as much as they want to, or need to. 

Why should players think about team first? Because it doesn’t look or feel right? Now, what King has done is different than what Baker Mayfield or Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray and a number of others have done across college football. All of them, not King, left their schools because they, in one way or another, lost playing time. In King’s case, it looks like he quit on a 1-3 team. It doesn’t pass the eye test and seems ugly and self-serving. 

OK, sure. But perhaps King and coach Dana Holgersen are playing 4-D chess here – thinking many moves and many months ahead. Houston can’t make a big bowl game this season. The Cougars are done. But next year, assuming King is coming back like he said he is going to, then Houston gets a reset of 2019. Houston opens next season with games against RIce, North Texas, Washington State and BYU. Not the easiest schedule, but 4-0 isn’t out of the question with a quarterback like King.

Seems sorta silly to think about, but we wouldn’t think twice about a tennis player skipping out on college to try the tour. We wouldn’t think a golfer or baseball player, backing out on a college commitment to make more money is any big deal, but for some reason, in football or basketball it’s considered quitting. Plenty of truth in that, too. But the other truth is universities use their players, so why shouldn’t a player be able to do the same?

At Houston, Holgorsen may be selfish in wanting King to come back for next year, and King may want anoter year to get ready for the 2021 NFL draft. Both have a lot to gain from what could be considered self-serving reasons.

Good for them. 

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