After the conclusion of the 2018 College Football regular season, Mountaineer faithful were excited to hear that they would be facing former Big East Conference foe Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl. While this ultimately was not the destination that the Mountaineers were hoping for, a bowl berth is still something that the team along with the fanbase can be proud of. Though, apparently not everyone had the same idea. Shortly after the announcement of the bowl destination for the Mountaineers, star quarterback Will Grier announced that he would not be participating in the matchup with the Orangemen. A decision that was made by Grier in order to have more preparation time for the 2019 NFL Draft, and Dana Holgorsen, in hopes of giving backup quarterback Jack Allison “meaningful” game experience to better prepare him for the 2019 starting job. Fast forward one year later, this decision ultimately did nothing more than cost West Virginia University and Mountaineer Nation a bowl win.
When a player decides to skip a bowl game, it is generally because they are projected to be a day one draft pick. This was not the case for Grier, falling to the 100th pick in the 3rd round of the draft. Though it was an ideal destination for Grier going back to his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina to play for the Carolina Panthers, it was not an ideal situation in the quarterback room. The Panthers already had their franchise quarterback in place with Cam Newton until recent injuries have that in question. Grier failed to put a productive product on the field during the NFL preseason, causing him to fall to 3rd on the depth chart for the Panthers, behind Cam Newton and Kyle Allen. This further dug the knife into the speculation of many that the decision to sit out the bowl game was not beneficial.
It was not until week 16 of the 2019 NFL Regular Season that Will Grier would get his chance as starting quarterback for the Panthers. In a 38-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Grier once again failed to put a promising product on the field. Failing to throw a touchdown pass while accumulating three interceptions, it was apparent that Grier was not ready for the bright lights of the NFL. While the Panthers are a struggling franchise in transition, the poor performance from Grier still puts a dent in his hopes of one day being “the man” in Carolina. This further extends the debate of whether or not the decision to sit out the bowl game was even beneficial to Grier himself. Showing early signs of never being anything more than a backup quarterback in the NFL, what good did leaving his alma mater without their star player for the bowl game do? The answer is slowly but surely proving to backfire.
A head coach that is no longer with the program, a hopeful future quarterback that is no longer with the program, and a bowl loss are all that the Mountaineers ended up with.Will Grier will go down as one of the best statistical quarterbacks in the history of Mountaineer Football. This is absolutely not in question if one were to look at his 7,354 passing yards and 71 touchdown passes that he accumulated in just 22 career starts. However, what could be brought into question is how Will Grier’s legacy will be viewed by Mountaineer faithful. Many peg him to be “one of the best” quarterbacks to dawn the Old Gold and Blue, and if one were to go by statistics, they would be absolutely right. Though if one were to look at the accomplishments of the team with him behind center along with how he left the program, his legacy could begin to appear murky.
In the end, neither Will Grier or WVU are reaping any benefits from the decision to skip the bowl game. With Grier’s struggles in the NFL and the hopeful future Mountaineer starter Jack Allison getting wasted game experience, there is barely a silver lining. The 2018 Camping World Bowl will go down as one of the most controversial bowl games in the history of the Mountaineer Football program for all the wrong reasons.