NIAA should be commended with sports schedule decision writes Joe Santoro | NevadaAppeal.com
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NIAA should be commended with sports schedule decision writes Joe Santoro

By Joe Santoro


Sports Fodder . . .The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association cares about the health and safety of your sons and daughters. That was never more apparent than this past week when the NIAA announced it is delaying the start of all sports practices and events until at least January. Winter sports will be Jan. 15-Feb. 20, fall sports will be March 5-April 10 and spring sports will be April 16-May 22. It was a brave, thoughtful, careful and intelligent decision and the NIAA should be commended. And then there’s the NCAA, which obviously only cares about how much money it can make at the expense of your sons’ and daughters’ health and safety.
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The difference between high school and college sports, of course, is the dollars involved. The activities are the same. If anything, college sports is far more intense. College athletes are closer together much more often than high school athletes, going to many more meetings, practices and games and most of them even live in the same dorms. But Nevada high school athletes are not playing until January and the Wolf Pack is about to start practicing for a 2020 football season which begins in four weeks. If it is not safe for high school athletes to participate in sports this fall (and it isn’t) then why is it safe for college athletes?
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The ACC, because of COVID-19, has joined the Big 10 and Pac 12 in deciding to eliminate almost all non-conference games. That’s like sticking a Band-Aid on your forehead after you come out of a car accident with a concussion. The decision by the Pac 12 and Big 10, fortunately for Nevada, didn’t affect the Pack this year. The Wolf Pack, though, had played either a Pac 12 or Big 10 team in each of the past 10 seasons (2010-19). But we are still waiting on the SEC and Big 12, which would affect the Pack. The SEC’s decision affects the Wolf Pack, which has a game at Arkansas on Sept. 5. Don’t put that game on your calendar in ink just yet, though the SEC might decide to play even more games because its member schools likely think COVID-19 is a liberal media’s creation. But if the SEC comes to its sense and admits science is real it just might decide to limit its schools to conference games or one non-league game. Arkansas also has a non-league game at Notre Dame (the week after playing the Pack). Guess which game Arkansas would prefer to play? 
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Is there any question that Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the NFL? Well, NFL players surveyed for the latest NFL Network Top 100 Players list believe Mahomes is No. 4, behind Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson and Aaron Donald. That is sort of like voting Ringo Starr as the most talented Beatle. Mahomes might be the best player in the NFL since Jerry Rice was in his prime. NFL players, though, don’t seem to appreciate Mahomes. Mahomes was also picked No. 4 in last year’s NFL Network Top 100 list behind Donald, Khalil Mack and Drew Brees. Drew Brees in 2019? Really? All Mahomes did in 2019 was go out and win the Super Bowl. 
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The Wolf Pack football team, it seems, has added a difference-maker at quarterback. The Pack signed talented and productive Riverside Tigers (California junior college) quarterback Jacob Barlage. Barlage could be quite a prize for the Pack. The 6-foot-1 Barlage was the best junior college quarterback in California last season, throwing for 2,786 yards and 30 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He shredded the league as Riverside went 13-0 and won a state title. Barlage, who played for his father Dan in high school in Moreno Valley, Calif., was an eye-opening 31-of-35 for 463 yards and eight touchdowns in a 76-3 win over Orange Coast last year. He was 18-of-27 for 309 yards and four scores in a 68-21 win over Canyons and 19-of-26 for 310 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-25 win over Saddleback. He should thrive in the Air Raid.
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Carson Strong is the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback on the Pack roster but you never know with head coach Jay Norvell, who likes to play musical chairs at the position just to spice things up. The Pack needed to overhaul its quarterback carousel behind Strong after last season when it lost Kaiden Bennett (transfer to Sacramento State), Malik Henry (kicked off team), Cristian Solano (eligibility ran out) and Austin Kirksey (now a walk-on at Georgia). That left sophomore Hamish McClure as Strong’s only backup, a fact that likely made Norvell long for the days when he coached just wide receivers. Barlage (if he does not red-shirt) could likely step in for Strong this year if needed or if Norvell just wants to drive Strong crazy again just for fun. The Pack also added 6-foot-9, 240-pound junior quarterback Nate Cox, an interesting option just because of his size. Cox spent two years at Louisiana Tech but did not play before playing a season in Kansas at Garden City Community College. 
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Major League Baseball made a ridiculous decision this week by suspending Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly eight games. Kelly threw a pitch behind Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros this week and then threw a couple close to Carlos Correa before striking him. That resulted in Correa and Kelly in a verbal exchange and Kelly mocking the Astros shortstop. The Dodgers are supposedly going to wear T-shirts picturing Kelly and his pouting lips making fun of Correa. An eight-game suspension is far too long, especially in a 60-game season. Kelly shouldn’t have been suspended at all. He didn’t hit anyone. The Astros are lucky they don’t get hit six times a game. That eight-game suspension for Kelly, by the way, is eight more games than the entire Astros’ player roster combined was suspended this past off-season for cheating in recent seasons (including the 2017 World Series against the Dodgers).