Given yesterday's news regarding Ed O'Bannon and his victory (albeit still to be appealed) over the NCAA, I almost feel dirty about posting a "for fun" countdown piece that focuses on one of the scourges of college sports: gambling.
Screw it. It's only for entertainment sake anyhow. And, did I mention 21 Days to Kickoff?!?!?!?!
Vegas has posted odds on every Pac 12 team's chances of winning the Pac 12 title in 2014. Seeing that I'm a guy who always has cash in my pocket but never in my savings account, I'm looking for an opportunity to multiply my money and fund my kids' college fund. Can you help me?
I've scanned the odds and picked out the three bets that I think have the best chance at paying off. But I'm an "all or nothing" kind of guy. I'm not too interested in hedging. Let's put some cash on the table and let her ride.
For reference, here are the Bovada odds:
Option #1 - Washington 14/1
Rule number one of sports gambling is never NEVER never bet on your home team. Still, 14/1 looks like pretty good value for a team that returns what Phil Steele ranks as the #9 Offensive Line and #13 Defensive Line in all of college football. Also, consider the schedule. If UW gets through Stanford (in Seattle) and all the way to Oregon undefeated, they could lose to Oregon and still have a decent shot at the title. What you have to hope for is that UCLA will have beaten Oregon in LA at this point with a home game versus Stanford still ahead of them.
Reasons to Place the Bet: It feels good; Makes the games more interesting; Losses of KP, Bishop, ASJ and Sean Parker are over rated
Reasons to Walk Away: Pac 12 North; "Chris Petersen can't recruit four and five star athletes"; Losses of KP, Bishop, ASJ and Sean Parker are under rated
Option #2 - Arizona 25 / 1
The thinking here is similar to the Washington bet. Teams replacing Quarterbacks are almost always given stiffer odds to win conference titles. In the case of Arizona, however, the QB they are replacing was barely above serviceable and the candidates vying to replace him each have the ability to actually throw the ball. Combine that with a pretty deep set of receivers and a functional offensive line and, well, who knows what could happen here? We are talking about the Pac 12 South after all.
Reasons to Place the Bet: The 'Cats are better than 25/1; The Pac 12 South is a mess; Rich Rod
Reasons to Walk Away: Rich Rod; Basketball School; Can't remember the last time Arizona won the Pac 12
Option #3 - Utah 66 / 1
This is obviously a longshot. But, before you totally write this one off, keep in mind what is happening here. We are gambling, not forecasting. To place this bet, you have to believe that there is a path to the Pac 12 championship for Utah whose odds are better than 66/1. Looking at this Utah team, they do have some of the ingredients that you look for in teams that pull off a few upsets. Veteran coaching, tough and big players on the lines of scrimmage, a veteran QB and a playmaker or two who can change the complexion of a game. Utah actually has all of that. And they play in the Pac 12 South. And, they've been within one random upset of being to the Pac 12 Championship Game once before.
If you owe some guy named Guido money and he is hunting you down with a lead pipe in one hand and a Meatball Marinara Sub in the other, this may be the bet for you.
Reasons to Place the Bet: Fabulous payback potential on a truly viable possibility; Another reason to root against Sark; Feeds my "UCLA is over rated" narrative
Reasons to Walk Away: While Utah winning is possible it isn't very probable; Gambling is illegal in Utah
The Verdict - Arizona 25 / 1
Obviously, I should have put Oregon onto this list. After all, the best bet is usually the one with the highest likelihood of paying out. That's no fun. So we are sticking with the three that I outlined above.
I was really tempted to pick Washington here given the fact that they have the pieces along the lines of scrimmage to really cause a disruption in the Pac 12 North. Their schedule is also very favorable. However, all of that logic mostly applies to Arizona. The Wildcats are even more attractive given that they play in the Pac 12 South - an easier division for any random team to emerge from - and they have the higher payout possibility at 25/1. Imagine what $1000 and a RichRod Run could do for your bank account.
Call my bookie. It's the 'Cats for me in 2014.