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Shannon Sharpe: Savannah State in tough spot

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ATLANTA (AP)

Shannon Sharpe knows all about struggling Savannah State; he is the school's most well-known athlete.

The Hall of Fame NFL tight end and CBS analyst has watched the Wildcats be skewered for a paycheck, getting pounded 139-0 by two Top 25 teams to open the season.

''Taking the kind of shellacking they have, I wish they were getting $1 million dollars a game,'' Sharpe said. ''But because of the financial situation they're in, the football team has to take this type of embarrassment for the other athletic programs to survive.''

The school is collecting paychecks totaling $860,000, which will go a long way toward helping the athletic program meet its total budget of $5.1 million.

The 44-year-old Sharpe was a Division II All-American while playing at then-Savannah State College in 1989 before his stellar NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. He also played basketball and was a triple jumper at Savannah State.

He said he hasn't reached out to coaches or players at his alma mater.

''Don't know what I can say to them,'' Sharpe said. ''They've moved up to Division I, so they've got to get Division I talent. Talent is what wins games. Nick Saban is a great coach, there's no disputing that, but there's a reason five or six of his players go to the NFL each year.''

Savannah State has a long way to go to get that kind of talent; it's one of the worst teams in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Wildcats are 4-72 against teams from that lower-level division. They've lost eight of their last 12 games by at least 30 points and have scored just one touchdown in their last six games.

Las Vegas odds makers made the Wildcats 70 1/2-point underdogs to No. 6 Florida State and they lost 55-0 to the Seminoles on Saturday - and the game was called in the third quarter because of lightning. Savannah State opened the season with an 84-0 loss to No. 18 Oklahoma State.

''Our job is to hold everyone under 100,'' Sharpe joked. ''We don't have any business being on the field with Florida State ... or Oklahoma State. But there are only two real money-makers in college, football and basketball. So when you're in the financial situation they're in, you have to do things that you know are probably not right.''

Sharpe said the pummelings may not be over for Savannah State.

''I'm not sure this is the end of it,'' he said. ''Until they get on their feet (financially), they'll probably have to take one or two of these games a year.''

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