Joe Santoro: Nevada Wolf Pack needs non-conference football to pay the bills | NevadaAppeal.com
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Joe Santoro: Nevada Wolf Pack needs non-conference football to pay the bills

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal

The Pac-12 and Big 10 have already announced they will play only conference football games this season. The SEC, ACC and Big 12 are supposedly thinking about doing the same. The Nevada Wolf Pack? Well, they still have a game scheduled for Sept 19 to be played at South Florida in Tampa, the state where the coronavirus goes to party. Two other schools, where COVID-19 is also a huge concern, Texas (UTEP) and California (UC Davis), will also send college football teams to Mackay Stadium within the next 60 days. The Wolf Pack’s other non-league game is at Arkansas, another state in the COVID-19? What COVID-19? high-risk southern United States. We understand the financial incentives to put college football players at a health risk. It has been reported that the Wolf Pack will get a guaranteed payout of $1.5 million to play at Arkansas. The Pack will also get $225,000 to play at South Florida. So, yes, it’s not easy to simply call off non-conference games. Mid-major schools like Nevada desperately need to play games at Power Five stadiums. The Pack will also get $1 million or more play at Kansas State (2021), Iowa (2022) and USC (2023) in an effort to pay the salaries of coach Jay Norvell and his staff, as well as keep every other sport except men’s basketball alive.

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Dom Peterson is no longer a secret. The Nevada Wolf Pack defensive lineman supposedly (according to the Wolf Pack media guide) came to Northern Nevada because he was overlooked in high school and had a chip on his shoulder. Well, now he has the attention of the college football universe on his shoulders. Peterson, who has 12 sacks and 25.5 tackles for a loss after just two seasons, is now on the Bednarik Award watch list as well as Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s magazines All-Mountain West First Teams. He will never be overlooked again.

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Peterson is a brilliant football player, a 6-foot, 300-pound bull of a young man with a non-stop motor, relentless heart and desire and an appetite for anyone who carries a football. Wolf Pack assistant coach Eric Scott, one of the best recruiters on the west coast, discovered Peterson in Southern California in 2015 and 2016 when he (Scott) was the head coach at Los Angeles High and Peterson was at Narbonne High at Harbor City, Calif. Peterson should be playing in the Pac-12 right now. How Pac-12 coaches didn’t drool over his talent (Peterson had 17 sacks, 28 tackles for a loss as a senior) is mind-boggling. You think Alabama, LSU and Clemson would overlook a player with Peterson’s talent right in their own backyard? The Daily Breeze newspaper in Southern California named him its Player of the Year after the 2016 season. Yes, a newspaper reporter had more football sense than the entire Pac-12.

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Peterson is reminiscent of other incredible Wolf Pack defensive linemen who were also 6-foot-2 and below. Bubba Puha, James Cannida, Jorge Cordova, Derek Kennard Jr., James Curry come quickly to mind. Peterson might be as good as any of them. By the time Peterson leaves Nevada he may own the record for career sacks (31 by Cordova) and tackles for a loss (63 by Dontay Moch). He just might be the best player (offense or defense) in the entire Mountain West right now.

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Major League Baseball is scheduled to open July 23. The NBA’s playoff is supposed to start July 30 and the NHL is saying it will start its postseason Aug. 1. The world, at least as far as sports fans in this country are concerned, will be as close to normal as possible starting in a week. The games and the day-to-day trivialities of sports are one thing. But it will simply feel good to be able to turn on the television again.

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What should Washington’s NFL franchise be called? A few nicknames have emerged, such as Generals, Red Wolves, Red Tails and Warriors. Warriors, of course, would be a huge mistake and could be deemed racist and inappropriate and too close to the former team name, especially if the Native American motif is continued. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time someone in Washington, D.C., made an even bigger mess out of something. Red Tails would honor the Tuskegee Airmen. Tuskegee, though, is in Alabama. How about the Washington Airmen? The Washington Red Tape? Generals is a safe and boring name, along the lines of Washington Nationals. Red Wolves has a lot of potential and might be the way to go.

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When is UNLV going to announce its name change? Or is the University of Nevada southern branch campus simply waiting for the attention to blow over, like Washington‘s NFL franchise the past two or three decades? UNLV did the right thing last month by getting rid of its “Hey, Reb” statue on campus. Now it is time to get rid of that disgusting “Rebels” nickname all together. It was a goofy, narrow-minded and insensitive nickname in the first place for a school in Nevada. Nevada, after all, is the Battle Born State, named after the war which ended slavery. The UNLV Neon sounds about right.

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Boise State brought back the sport of baseball in 2020. The Broncos, which did not have baseball since 1980, did well this past season, winning nine of their last 11 games to finish 9-5 before the coronavirus pandemic ended spring sports last March. Boise State, though, announced earlier this month that it has dropped baseball once again. Boise State, which also dropped women’s swimming and diving, will save $3 million by dropping the two programs. That decision, after all, will help pay the salary of football coach Bryan Harsin over the remaining three seasons of his contract. Who needs baseball and swimming and diving when there is a New Mexico Bowl to be won? And, hey, nobody will pay to televise a swimming and diving meet on ESPN on Friday nights in the fall, right?

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Why hasn’t anyone suggested the idea of playing some sort of abbreviated schedule this fall for all of the spring sports that were chopped off in March? Is it because nobody makes any money off of spring sports? Spring sports are a drain on athletic budgets. Football, though, nourishes athletic budgets. It was an easy decision to stop spring sports last March. Nobody was going to lose any money. That’s why it is a difficult decision to call off football, even now as the coronavirus grows more and more each day.