ASK CFN ... The Most Loved & Hated Teams
Posted Aug 17, 2007

The most hated, loved and respected teams. What's easier to gamble on, college or pro? These and more in the latest ASK CFN.

By Pete Fiutak
Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

What is the situation concerning sports writers and gambling on the sports they cover? You would seem to have an advantage since you are fully aware of each teams strengths considering your coverage as compared to the average fan/gambler who may only know teams in his favorite conference. Is it frowned upon at all, an ethical issue, or an issue at all? GO HOGS! – JR

A: You’d think there’d be an advantage, and there probably is, but when it comes to me, any tidbits of inside info will be in the part of the Fearless Predictions that I write. So for the most part, you’ll know what I know since my goal is for the picks I make to be as right as possible for journalistic and respect purposes; not for gamblers to get rich off of, and certainly not for my own financial gain.

For the most part, when it comes to picking college games, I’ll average out at about 60% against the spread long term, (anyone claiming to do better than 65% on a long term basis is lying to you), but I despise gambling. There’s a reason the Las Vegas hotels are as posh as they are. You always end up losing in the long run. Frowned upon? For a writer, it is if you’re gathering info just to place a bet. I’m not a big ethics guy, but this is one area where I’ll draw a line. With that said, you probably don’t want me in your bowl pool, NCAA tournament pool or fantasy football league.

Past ASK CFNs ...    
- Is Miami still a power?
- CFN's West Virginia ranking
- Is Booty Heisman-worthy?
- The USC Schedule
- The Big Ten Network
- The most underrated head coach
- The Top Ten NFL receiver prospects 

- Why did Brady Quinn slide?
- The Virginia Tech situation

- Creating a MWest-WAC super-league
Mid-majors who should be in the bigs
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- Is Brady really better than Russell?
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

Settle an argument for me … what’s easier to gamble on, college or pro? BTW, how is it that the oddsmakers are always so close? - TE

A: Preseason NFL football. Betting on the NFL is for suckers, and the hard core, do-it-for-a-living guys usually stay away in droves. It’s not because of the Any Given Sunday cliché, it’s because the lines are usually more accurate.

Here’s how it works. A bunch of guys in Vegas put together an initial line on a game at the first second possible, and then it gets floated out to the major players. The real degenerate types. They then place their bets, and the line adjusts from there to try to be as even as possible so half the people will go one way, and half will go the other. Yeah, the oddsmakers come close, but it’s the market that makes the line.

Because the info, in general, is so much better when it comes to the NFL, the adjustment is usually more accurate. In college, there’s often such a wide disparity in talent and between teams, there’s more room for error. So to answer your question, college, for the serious gambler, is the easier of the two.

For the real crazed gamers, right now is the prime season because of the NFL preseason. An astute gambler can figure out which team is going to play its starters longer, and which teams will be experimenting with rookies and backups, and then get his bet down before the line starts to adjust. For the most part, people bet on the preseason based on teams like they’ll be in the regular season and not in a preseason situation, so for the guys who do their homework, the lines are usually way, way off early on, making for easy pickings.

Did you notice the "others receiving votes" in the USA Today's Coaches Poll?  Duke got one vote.  One of the coaches actually thought Duke should be ranked #25.  Is this not the most ringing indictment of the Coaches Poll to date?  Seriosuly.  If one of the "experts" in a poll really thinks that Duke is better than 94 teams in the country, I don't want that poll involved in the BCS, that's for sure.
 – WH

A: That No. 25 Duke vote every year comes from Steve Spurrier as a “Thank You” for hiring him several years ago.

I’ve noticed that on a lot of your all-time stuff you start everything at 1970. Aren’t you basically forgetting about most of the history of the sport by doing that?
– RT

A: I was born in 1970, so of course, that’s when everything relevant started to happen. Actually, there are a few reasons for doing it like this. First, and most importantly, that’s around when the national champions were decided after the bowl games, making the bowls more important. Famously, Richard Nixon awarded the 1969 Texas team the national championship after beating Arkansas on the last game of the regular season, even though the Longhorns still had to play Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl (which they won in a 21-17 classic). Second, it’s around when college football was finally integrated. Some Barry Bonds apologists like to point to past baseball records being skewed because blacks weren’t allowed to play until Jackie Robinson broke through. I’m not going to go that far with college football’s record books, but things certainly did change after 1970. And finally, 1970 is a nice, easy delineation between eras. There’s a lot more info on the games after that point.

Which five BCS powers are the most nationally respected teams? (a lot of people across the country like to see win?) Which five BCS powers are the most vilified teams? (a lot of people across the country like to see lose?) – JM

A: There’s a difference between respect and love. There are plenty of teams that fans respect, but don’t like, and vice versa. Basically, from what I’ve been able to gather after years of reader interaction is that everyone has one team they’re in love with, and then they have a secondary team, always in a different conference, that they root for.

For the most part, Notre Dame, the New York Yankees of college football, is both the most loved and hated team. There’s almost no middle ground when it comes to the Irish. Michigan also occupies a spot in both categories.

It’d be an interesting poll question for the fans, but my guess is that the top five most respected teams on a national scale will always correspond to how good the teams are at the time combined with a historical aspect. When it comes to fans’ respect, right now I’d say it’s probably 1. USC, 2. Michigan, 3. Ohio State, 4. Texas, 5. Florida. LSU and Oklahoma should probably be in there somewhere.  When it comes to the most hated, it’s probably 1. Notre Dame, 2. Michigan, 3. USC, 4. Oklahoma, 5. Miami. The five most loved on a national scale (basically, these are the teams many fans grew up rooting for) would probably be 1. Notre Dame, 2. Michigan, 3. USC, 4. Florida State, 5. Penn State, Ohio State or Nebraska.

Your limited 4 team playoff, plus one format makes all the other bowl games worthless. The plus one has to be either two teams that have just won their bowl games, or two teams of the 4 that received a bye week vacation at the location of the championship game. The results of the other bowls have to count in the final BCS standings. That way Toledo against Michigan State in the Motor City Bowl could make the difference between Florida or Michigan in the championship game.  The best thing about college football is that every game matters. 1&2 get all the glory and attention that the drive by media loves to bestow upon any big event.  3&4 get the total screw of no bowl, just like a playoff system would do to 40 teams each year. – JT

A: Then why not just have one extra week of the season instead of bowl games? You already have your data at the end of the regular season and the teams are seeded accordingly. To make what you’re proposing fair, all 119 teams would have to be in a bowl. Your way would create even more problems and wouldn’t solve anything. Again (forgive me for continuing to pound this), the No. 1 conference champion should play the No. 4 conference champion, the No. 2 conference champ should play the No. 3, and then the two winners should meet. One extra game, no real mess, no legitimate controversy.

I sat in Phoenix at the National Championship game and watched my Buckeys get the snot beat out of them. How does a loss like this affect long term national recruiting? – Mike

A: It doesn’t matter nearly as much as the recruiting types would have you believe. If a kid grew up wanting to play for Ohio State, then he’s going to go to Ohio State. Jim Tressel’s recruiting pitch … yeah we lost, but with you, the outcome might have been different. It might have been ugly, but we were in the national championship game, and will be again. Come to Ohio State and you’ll be in the hunt for the national title, and if you work hard enough, will be in a great position to go to the next level.

Seeing that Utah picked up a season opener at Michigan next year got me wondering.  Is it better for a “mid-major” to take a game like that (and the $800,000 check) that comes with it for some national exposure?  Or is it better to stick with that home-and-home with Washington State. – DL

A: For Utah, you always, always, always, always, always take your shot at the biggest name possible whenever you can. That’s how you can make more of a name for yourself and get more exposure. Win that game, and all of a sudden you’re a player. As a fan, I want as many of these Utah-Michigan matchups as possible. With that said, Michigan is nuts for taking on this game. It’s a no-win situation. It’s a game the Wolverines could lose if things aren’t going quite right, and no one will really think twice about it if they win.

I love college football, all conferences, not just the big boys.  I also play in a fantasy league, we draft college teams, looking for big offenses and shutdown defenses.  So, I need some depth, outside of the big conferences...Can you give me 5 offenses that will light the scoreboard up like a Christmas tree?  And some defenses that will hold their opponents in check.  Some under the radar teams.  Thanks! - Ryan-Wisconsin-GO BUCKY!

A: Assuming everyone knows about the Hawaii and New Mexico State offenses, under-the-radar offenses that’ll finish high are 1. Central Michigan, 2. San Diego State, 3. Toledo, 4. Ball State, 5. Colorado State. Five under-the-radar non-BCS defenses that’ll shut most teams down (assuming you know about TCU and Boise State) are 1. New Mexico, 2. Nevada, 3. Wyoming, 4. Colorado State, 5. Fresno State.