Offshore betting alert, the irresponsible media and handicapping pearls of wisdom.
College football abounds with coaching intrigue Saturday. Washington Coach Rick Neuheisel hosts the Colorado team he skipped out on while Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville receives a visit from the Ole’ Miss team he bid adieu. What is the balance between the emotion of the players who feel jilted as opposed to the knowledge that the opposing coaching staff possesses of their former players’ strengths and weaknesses? In a similar situation on September 4th a fired up Miami of Ohio team went on the road to crush Northwestern and their former coach Randy Walker. Since then Walker, who had a stellar record in the MAC, has engineered two upsets as more than a TD underdog over TCU and Duke.
Mike Dubose, meet Gerry DiNardo. Gerry DiNardo, say hello to Mike Dubose. Norv Turner seems to have stepped out, but he’ll be back shortly. I was hoping to introduce you gentlemen to Bobby Ross and Pete Carroll but they appear to have departed.
The four teams that played in the NFL conference finals last year are now 1-7 both straight up and against the spread. The record couldn’t be any worse, as Minnesota played Atlanta in week one (a non-covering Viking victory). Form seems to be virtually non-existent in the NFL. The two teams that looked to be of championship quality in week one, Jacksonville and Miami, barely escaped as big favorites in week two. Will underdogs enjoy a season-long run similar to what favorites did in ’98? It looks possible after two weeks. With such up and down play so far, who knows who to make the favorites?
If you called 770.618.8700 last weekend you were treated to an outright upset winner with Air Force over Washington. Sunday’s contrarian play lost, dropping its two-year spread record to 16-5. Call starting this Friday night for a fully analyzed selection completely free of any advertising. The S&G; Hotline also offers game day breakdowns of every Thursday and Monday night contest. It’s a free 24-hour service, so call 770.618.8700 all week long for solid winning information.
CBS’s efforts to inform viewers of what was occurring elsewhere in college football during their Saturday evening telecasts were virtually nonexistent. At one point their score scroll reported the exact same in progress scores that had been offered an hour earlier. If CBS cannot handle the task of gathering and communicating the scores to it’s viewers I would be glad to refer them to any one of a number of web sites that do a fine job. CBS can then have an intern type in the scores from the more accurate and up to date sources, so their viewers will no longer be in the dark.
One of CBS’s sources could be it’s own web site, although I have seen them report two inaccurate NFL finals that reversed the pointspread result in the NFL so far this season, both of which went uncorrected for substantial periods of time. I recently heard a local radio program misreport two final college scores, which also skewed the wagering result. I wonder how much money went uncollected by winning bettors who took these media outlets at their word? Always confirm any information that you have a personal financial stake in with more than one source. Incidentally, that includes this column as well.
CBS’s uneven performance was not enhanced by it’s studio host Tim Brando, who is just a sliver to this side of Joe Piscopo when it comes to cheesy, hope my hair’s OK sportscaster bombast. Piscopo…errr…Brando continually referred to Florida’s lead over Tennessee as an upset in the making or potential upset in cut-ins to Syracuse-Michigan viewers. Only one problem. Florida was the favorite. Someone get that man a newspaper. If there is any organization that should know the pointspread it is CBS, whose direct ties to an offshore sports book were widely reported last spring.
While CBS surely would have preferred a cleaner, crisper Florida-Tennessee contest the big loser may have been TVKO. Although their Trinidad-De la Hoya fight did record-setting numbers, how many people were planning on getting the pay per view but were afraid it was already in the fourth round when the Florida-Tennessee game finally ended after midnight on the east coast? TVKO should have purchased the first commercial after the game to announce that there was still fifteen minutes to the first bell.
TV is the most obvious offender when it comes to poor coverage, and every major daily newspaper has a columnist whose duties consist of critiquing the performance of the broadcasters. The newspapers themselves get a free pass. One college football columnist whose work continually falls short of even the most minimal standards is Mark Blaudschun, whose column last Friday on page D-13 in the Boston Globe littered an otherwise outstanding sports section with inaccuracies and a lack of perspective. What did he botch? Where do we start?
Blaudschun: Amid all the Atlantic Coast Conference hype over quarterbacks such as Flordia State’s Chris Weinke, Georgia Tech’s Joe Hamilton, and North Carolina’s Ronald Curry, someone should pay attention to North Carolina State’s Jamie Barett, who has thrown for more than 200 yards in 22 of his 32 starts.
The facts: Aside from misspelling Florida and the fact that Barett’s name is actually Jamie Barnette, which may simply be errors made in the transcription or editing processes, it’s laughable to say that someone should pay attention to Barnette. Barnette got a ton of publicity last year, befitting his status as the ACC’s total offense leader and second team all-ACC quarterback. It’s odd that Blaudschun thinks now is the time to start paying attention to Barnette. With go to receiver Torry Holt now playing for the St. Louis Rams, Barnette may be college football’s most disappointing player so far in ’99. Against 1-A opponents Barnette is 22-58 passing for 212 yards with five interceptions and no touchdown passes.
Blaudschun: West Virginia coach Don Nehlen reinstated Davis to the team this week after he missed the Mountaineers’ opener last week against East Carolina. Davis is expected to suit up for West Virginia’s home opener against Miami of Ohio tomorrow.
The facts: West Virginia’s home opener against Miami of Ohio actually occurred six days earlier. They won. You would think that a major newspaper’s college football columnist in Big East country would have known that.
Blaudschun: ”We have to get better, obviously,” said coach Steve Spurrier, who hopes the Gators can continue their dominance of Tennessee in Gainesville, where the Vols have not won since 1971.
The facts: Tennessee had actually only played six times in Gainesville since ’71. While we think of this today as a fierce annual rivalry, Tennessee and Florida played only twice from 1978-1989. Blaudschun actually shares culpability with a majority of the rest of the media on this one, yet he didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to correct the misconception. After all, since 1971 is so much more dramatic than six consecutive times. Then again, what do you think the chances were he would actually look it up? A similarly inaccurate performance by a broadcaster would undoubtedly be lambasted by the Globe’s TV-Radio columnists.
When Mike Ditka was run off by the Bears it appeared that the game had passed him by. In his third season with New Orleans, Ditka continues to do wonders with what may be the least talent south of (ironically) Chicago. His teams epitomize the overused phrase scrappy, playing hard and continually overachieving.
Among the features of Marc Lawrence’s Playbook Insider is an interesting breakdown of college spread performances at night. LSU is 14-24 against the number at home in the evenings but are 9-2 on the road. Trend players can order this annual publication by calling 1-800-PLAYBOOK.
Let’s take advantage of the lack of form in the NFL by taking a look at a 2-0 team getting nearly double digits. While the schedule-maker was quite kind to the Titans in the first two weeks, they are not a bad team. They have competent quarterbacking both with the starter and the backup and have suitable talent all over the field. This high number startled me, as Jacksonville is playing bad half/ good half. With the personalities that these teams have exhibited so far, a first half wager on the Titans may be advisable as well.
Wisconsin’s shocking loss as a four-touchdown favorite at Cincinnati on Saturday seemed like a big deal, yet it wasn’t even the biggest upset on Saturday.
North Texas, a 30-point puppy, stunned Texas Tech on Tech’s strong home field 21-14. Wisconsin’s loss is somewhat understandable, as they have a revenge matchup with Michigan this week. Texas Tech should have been focused, as they have this week off before taking on Texas A&M.; On one hand it was easy for the Red Raiders to overlook North Texas, as the Eagles had been crushed by UNLV and LSU by a combined 78-3. But Texas Tech should have remembered the lookahead they suffered the last time they took on North Texas in Lubbock a mere two years ago. In 1997 the Red Raiders lost to the Eagles 30-27 as 32-point favorites. We think highly of Spike Dykes but how do you lose at home twice in three years to the same team as 30+ point favorites?
Speaking of upsets, have two more putrid performances ever occurred than we saw in Arizona this past weekend? If you missed the late finals, 13½ point favorite Arizona was crushed by Stanford 50-22 and 25-point favorite Arizona State were lambasted by Big West entrant New Mexico State 35-7. The Arizona teams are so much more talented than those who squashed them. Desire shows up on the line of scrimmage, so you may wish to note the rushing yardage totals from these games, NMSU 363-ASU 116; Stanford 214-‘zona 113. Bruce Snyder and Dick Tomey are doing so little with so much. On the other side of those games, Stanford Coach Tyrone Willingham has his team playing hard after their humiliation at Texas. New Mexico State Coach Tony Samuel, who upset instate rival New Mexico the week before, is a former Nebraska assistant who must have Husker fans wondering how he got away.
With his enormous workload the past couple of years, has Terrell Davis lost a step? Would Jamal Anderson have hit his hole a little quicker or have had a little more musculature support bracing the strain on his knee if he hadn’t held out? This seems like a good time to leave the Falcons for dead, but their defense is playing stellar football and their next six games are against teams who had losing records last season. That stat we gave you on Drew Bledsoe last week is now four last-minute winning drives in the past six games he’s played in.
Back to Wisconsin. The defending Rose Bowl champions enjoyed a dream season in ‘98 with one notable exception. They were slapped around by Michigan 27-10 in a game that was no fluke. The Badgers grabbed an early lead on a long touchdown pass and then were steamrolled by a Wolverine outfit who turned the tables on Wiscy’s usual strength by outrushing the Badgers 257-58. Thinking they could cakewalk their way through their typical Kansas State-like early season schedule, Wisconsin has been focusing on this game for months. Focus was such that the Badgers were humiliated as four-TD favorites on Saturday in a classic lookahead situation. Isolating a team looking to avenge their single loss from the previous season is a rare situation worthy of consideration. Michigan’s focus has been diluted by revenge wins over Notre Dame and Syracuse. Worth noting that in last year’s matchup occurred on November 14, near the end of a season where Ron Dayne carried the ball almost 300 times and played through injuries throughout the fall. Alvarez has limited his carries so far this season and Dayne enters this contest fresh. Michigan looks to have more talented players but what are they really doing offensively? Look for the more motivated Badgers to wear down the Wolverines and grind out a win in front of their raucous home crowd.
Offshore alert: The Cleveland Plain Dealer on Monday reported, The first Kyl bill also sought to prosecute those who bet with Internet gambling sites, which the U.S. Justice Department viewed as impractical. The new version would cut off Internet access to people caught betting online. U.S. Justice Department spokesman John Russell declined to comment on the latest version of Kyl’s bill. Gee, that’s practical. Will there be a black book like they have to catch casino cheats in Nevada that gets handed out to ISP’s? AOL Customer service rep, I’m sorry Mr. Jones, I realize that your business is dependent on your internet access but the government just informed us that you bet a $1 four-team parlay last weekend, so we’re going to have to cut you off. Don’t even bother calling Mindspring, you’re in the black book now. Your tax dollars at work.
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thedailyspread.com | September 26th, 1999
– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
Kevin is the author of two best selling books on football betting. His weekly column covers the world of sports betting, the media and football handicapping.