Fire over your questions to me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
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.
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
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! -
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.