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Still sick of seeing Alabama and Clemson?

The Tigers and Crimson Tide know each other pretty well after meeting for the fourth time in five years in a high-profile game with major stakes.

And given what Clemson did, punching ‘Bama in the mouth Monday night in Levi’s Stadium in soggy Santa Clara, Calif., in a dominating 44-16 performance, it begs the question: “Does America want to keep seeing this?”

The College Football Playoff committee isn’t ready to expand the field beyond its current four. So the likelihood that someone could come into the mix as a fresh face remains remote.

As Claude Rains said in Casablanca, “Round up the usual suspects.”

Clemson isn’t going away anytime soon. Neither is Alabama. The other two teams in the 2020 playoffs may differ from Oklahoma and Notre Dame, but it appears we’re stuck with Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney for a while, unless one or both decides the NFL is worth the move.

Saban tried that years ago in Miami and hightailed it to Tuscaloosa faster than you can say “Roll Tide.” Swinney? He might be lured by big money. But when you’re the CEO of a big-time college football program, everyone bows to you, starting with the university president.

Monday night was part track meet, part video game and part outstanding athleticism. Clemson checked all three boxes and as good as Alabama has been the past few years, it was outworked and outclassed by the Tigers.

But what Clemson has done the past few years should serve as hope for the rest of the college football world. You invest in facilities. You recruit great athletes. You hire the right people to coach those athletes and allow them to do their job without interference. That’s how you become elite.

It’s done elsewhere. Ohio State and Michigan. Georgia and LSU. Texas and Oklahoma. Notre Dame. USC. Perhaps not to the exact level as Alabama and Clemson, but the money is there. The facilities are built. If one coach doesn’t get it done, he’s out quickly and changes are made.

Oregon was a woeful program back in the 1980s. But eventually, Phil Knight of Nike invested in athletics beyond track and field and the Ducks became power brokers for a while when Chip Kelly took over.

Kansas State was as bad as it got. Then Bill Snyder arrived and the Wildcats became very good. Not ‘Bama good mind you, but you take success in varied increments.

Here in Las Vegas, UNLV has had few shining moments in its less-than-illustrious history of playing football. The school and community are investing millions in the hopes of one day it can escape the Mountain West, join a Power Five conference and reap the benefits that come with it, i.e. television revenue.

They’re building a football complex. They’re moving into an NFL stadium in 2020. They are recruiting depth to support the few good players the Rebels have. The coach, Tony Sanchez, will be under the gun, to get this program to a bowl game.

Well, join the club. There’s a lot of Tony Sanchezes out there in the college football universe, at all levels, who are charged by their president and athletic director to win.

But in the main college football universe, Clemson and Alabama are, and will remain, the dominant forces, for the foreseeable future. So get used to it.

Ending with a W

For the Gaming Today team of college football handicappers, it was time to celebrate Monday’s impressive Clemson victory.

Richard Saber, Joe D’Amico and Ian Cameron all had the Tigers at +6 their final selection of the year. Saber liked Clemson outright on the money line and Cameron also liked the game to go over the total of 59.5.

Saber thought it was Swinney’s time to win and he said: “I’m taking the points but I’m not sure I’m going to need them.”

D’Amico had a small lean on Clemson while Cameron said: “I think they have a chance to win this game straight up.”

With the win, our three wise men all finished well over .500 for the Bowl season picking games against the point spread. Saber was an outstanding 17-7 while Cameron went 15-7-1 and D’Amico was a strong 12-7.

Overall, D’Amico was 51-47-1 despite his final week of going 2-4. Cameron finished a game over .500 with a 32-31-2 mark with a final week of 4-3 and Saber, despite a strong last week at 4-2, was barely under .500, finishing 50-53-1.

Our friends at Doc’s Sports Services posted a 19-22-1 record with their college picks during the regular season. Doc’s did not participate in the postseason prognosticating.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t note the outstanding performance of college football handicapper Mark Mayer. Our former GT colleague, who died on Dec. 11, was a remarkable 71-47-3 picking college games against the point spread when he passed away. No doubt Mark would have been proud of the effort by his colleagues during the bowl season and their overall work this year.

Our college football team gets a well-deserved break. Look for their opinions and picks come late August when the 2019 season begins and the world looks to see if someone can knock off Clemson, the defending national champions.

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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