I would say it has been a crazy college football season but for the average bettor it has been the most formful season imaginable.
According to RJ Bell of Pregame.com, had you just just bet the AP Top Ten teams you would be 38-14 on the season, 16-1 the last two weeks. How can it get any simpler than that? For a novice bettor it can’t.
Bookmakers have long been the steady hand, waiting for the trends to even out. It has served our business well. But things change. Real estate was the way to invest for the past eighty years. I would say that changed. Has the football landscape changed? The best answer I can give is, maybe.
There is a one thing we know has definitely changed. Of course, it’s the money. We know there is more of it, but where is it coming from? Primarily from TV. Donations are also a huge wellspring of revenue. Those two sources don’t exist in a vacuum. Excitement is at the root. And what bring more excitement than championship teams and blowouts.
The best kids get funneled into the best programs. That hasn’t changed. But what happens when they get there? In years past a team would have a few of its games on the tube, now virtually every major college game is on TV now. The Big 10 Network shows every game. Other conferences are lining up to follow. Notre Dame has had NBC televising their home games for years and I honestly can’t remember the last time an away game hasn’t been on. Texas has its own network. Highlights are shown on ESPN, all the networks and even Youtube.
I’m no sociologist, so I don’t know if TV reflects reality or perception becomes reality, or what. But I do know these administrators, coaches and players are all human. Well, I mean, besides Nick Saban. The coaches run their offense no matter what the score. Those offenses have become more efficient, too, often running the spread or the pistol. Coaches are looking to increase the number of snaps their offenses get. Backups come in and play hard. The cameras are rolling. Add this up and it results in the better teams getting better as the game goes on. We used to look for the backdoor cover out of the underdog. Now these high priced favorites keep extending.
The BCS pollsters tell us that scoring margin means very little, but no one believes it. That’s the key. If its true or not doesn’t matter. The teams vying for a BCS berth don’t believe it. Hence, they want to keep scoring. The alumni want them to, the administrators want them to and most of all the players want to keep scoring. It doesn’t matter if its late in the game, if a player is in there he wants to score. He wants his highlight moment. It’s our job as bettors and bookmakers to recognize it.
There is another element. Conference officials want the favorites to keep rolling. What did Nevada’s victory over Boise St. cost the WAC last season? Whatever the difference between what a BCS bowl and the Las Vegas Bowl pays, that’s how much. There were a lot of people who wanted to see the Broncos lose as they were exiting the conference for the Mountain West but a few pragmatic observers who wanted to see the conference pick up its share of that huge payday a certain BCS bowl would provide. The big conferences are guaranteed one berth, but two is another huge paycheck. Could that trickle down to the game officials? I don’t know. Not consciously. But the best teams always seem to get more calls. Does the promise of a huge payday influence them, too?
I’m looking at this week’s Saturday night schedule, and it’s scary. Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin and Stanford all play late. The wiseguys will probably make a case for the dogs and I hope they’re right. I don’t know the winners, but I know who I’ll be rooting for.
Look at Stanford for example. Going back to last year, so that’s a total of 19 games, Stanford has scored less than 31 points once. They have won by 20 or more 15 times. They have won by 30 or more 11 times. Wisconsin has scored less than 48 once this season, and that was a 35-0 win over Oregon State. The public keeps betting these teams and wiseguys keep betting against them.
I know we keep waiting for the sky to fall in on one of these teams but we aren’t going to get even in one game. In the stock market you can quickly get even if you are shorting an over priced stock once it drops. Just ask anyone who was net short in September 2008. Sports doesn’t work that way though. Good money management won’t have you pressing your bets when you’re losing.
In the investment world they identify situations as value traps where perceived worth is really nonexistent.
I believe what we have here are some value traps.