Joe Santoro: God-awful College Football Playoff has to stop | NevadaAppeal.com
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Joe Santoro: God-awful College Football Playoff has to stop

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal
Alabama head coach Nick Saban holds the trophy after winning the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

If you do not like the way college football determines its Division I-A (Football Bowl Subdivision) national champion, then turn off your television this Monday night. Do not watch Ohio State take on Alabama. Read a book. Talk to your wife. Ask your children about their day. Do anything but watch two college football super powers flaunt their bloated budgets in your face on national television, glorifying a biased college football playoff system that only includes the rich, spoiled, privileged and pampered.

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OK, yes, I understand you likely skipped ahead after you read “read a book.” That phrase, after all, shouldn’t be in a so-called sports column unless the word “sports” is squarely in front of the word “book.” I get it. A bad day watching football beats a good day doing anything else. But this god-awful College Football Playoff (capitalizing the words doesn’t make it more legitimate and fair) has to stop. If you watch on Monday night then you are showing your support for that ridiculous, biased and unfair system. Who really cares which team wins on Monday? Who will even remember on Tuesday morning who won on Monday night? College football, which has never figured out a way to find a legitimate champion, is mere junk food. It’s empty calories, designed to keep you fat, bloated and prone on the couch. You don’t even care what you are eating as long as you are eating. Yes, it tastes good but after you swallow, you are sick to your stomach, your belt seems tighter and bending over and picking the remote up off the floor seems like a five-mile hike. You don’t have to read a book or talk to your kids, but don’t watch the Ohio Football Factory against the Alabama Football Factory on Monday night and save the calories. You’ll feel better in the morning.



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This will be the seventh College Football Playoff and Alabama has been in five title games and Clemson has been in four. Just 11 schools have ever been involved in the four-team playoff over eight seasons. There have been 32 possible playoff berths and Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma have gotten 20 of those 32 spots. No school west of LSU has ever won the championship. Just two schools (Oregon, Washington) west of Oklahoma have ever been involved in the four-team playoff. A school like Nevada has a better chance of getting a NFL franchise than it does of getting into the four-team playoff.



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There are two logical solutions to this problem. Expand the playoff to eight teams or give the Group of Five conferences their own four-team playoff. That would still leave plenty of schools available to fill out the meaningless bowl schedule, keeping everyone happy. A Group of Five playoff, of course, would immediately separate the haves from the have nots in college football. But that is being done already. A Group of Five playoff, like the one in Division I-AA (Football Championship Subdivision), would give true meaning to the season for schools like Nevada and keep us from watching another Famous Idaho Potato Bowl slop.

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San Jose State had a dream season this year, winning the Mountain West football title by beating Boise State. But even the Spartans had a horrible end to their season, getting whipped (34-13) by Ball State in the Arizona Bowl. Yes, you read that correctly. Ball State in the Arizona Bowl. It was 34-0 at one point. That is not the way a champion should end its season, getting destroyed by David Letterman’s school in a bowl game hardly anyone even knows exists. It was a bad look for the Mountain West champion. The Spartans never should have played in that game.

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You have to feel for former Nevada Wolf Pack offensive lineman Joel Bitonio. Bitonio, who has played in 95 NFL games over the past seven seasons with the Cleveland Browns, tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play in the Browns’ playoff game against Pittsburgh this weekend. Bitonio, who was named to his third Pro Bowl this year, is one of the main reasons Cleveland is even in the playoffs and now he has to watch the game on TV.

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Bitonio, before he retires, will likely be the best NFL player the Wolf Pack has ever produced. In addition to the three Pro Bowl honors, Bitonio has been called for just nine penalties over the past five years. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound left guard, a Browns’ second-round pick in 2014, signed a six-year, $51 million contract extension two years ago and is one of the best guards in the NFL. He was brought to Nevada by former coach Chris Ault in 2009. Ault, who claims he came up with the idea of calling the Pack offensive line “The Union” in the mid-1980s, always knew the value of a great offensive line, coaching the likes of future NFL linemen Tony Moll, Derek Kennard, Eric Sanders, Harvey Dahl and Shar Pourdanesh while at Nevada.

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The Wolf Pack, though, will have a prominent offensive lineman in the NFL playoffs this year. Austin Corbett, a Reed High graduate, will start at right guard for the Los Angeles Rams. Corbett, who joined the Wolf Pack in 2013 as a walk-on and later became a team captain, was a teammate of Bitonio’s at Nevada in 2013 and with the Browns in 2018 and 2019. Corbett, like Bitonio, was drafted by the Browns early in the second round.

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NFL playoff picks this weekend: Saints 38-17 over the Bears; Seahawks 24-20 over the Rams, Buccaneers 27-17 over Washington; Bills 28-24 over the Colts, Ravens 31-28 in overtime over the Titans and Steelers 27-20 over the Browns. It’s really all about the quarterbacks: Drew Brees (Saints) over Mitch Trubisky (Bears), Russell Wilson (Seahawks) over Jared Goff (Rams), Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) over Baker Mayfield and his depleted Browns offensive line; Lamar Jackson (Ravens) over Ryan Tannehill (Titans), Josh Allen (Bills) over Philip Rivers (Colts) and, of course, Tom Brady (Bucs) over Alex Smith (Washington).