WACO, Texas - Cleaning out a crowded notebook and a cluttered mind while stipulating first that I am not - repeat NOT - a betting man. Yet still, on those extremely rare occasions when I buy a single Powerball ticket, I always check just on the ridiculously off chance that I will not have to go to work tomorrow:
I mention betting because quite regularly I am e-mailed a list of betting odds from Bovada. A few weeks ago I got the early lines on the 2015 college football season.West Virginia doesn't play the preseason national championship favorite in its opener. Alabama opened at 13-2 to win the first college football playoff, just behind Florida State at 11-2.Here's what I found just a tad bit interesting: West Virginia is actually one of 17 schools listed at 100-1 odds.
Now yes, that's a real long shot. But consider that there are only 33 schools with better odds. There will be 64 members of the five major conferences next year. Six schools from outside those five leagues - Notre Dame (a partial ACC member), Boise State, BYU, Central Florida, South Florida and Cincinnati - were also given odds, so that's a pool of 70 schools.And West Virginia is right in the middle of that pool, essentially tied for 34th?OK, granted, given the 33 teams with better odds and the 17 listed at 100-1, that means only 20 others from what is generally considered the pool of contenders have longer odds than the Mountaineers. But given WVU's performance of late, I just found it a bit surprising that even 20 members of the five major conferences are essentially ranked lower, not to mention the other 50 FBS schools that are generally given zero chance because they're in the MAC or the WAC or the Sun Belt or whatever.By the way, only four other Big 12 schools have better odds - Oklahoma (20-1), Baylor (25-1), Oklahoma State (40-1) and Texas (50-1). Kansas State and TCU are listed at 100-1 along with WVU. Kansas, Iowa State and Texas Tech aren't listed.Of course, before considering those odds to be some sort of make-believe ranking, consider that it comes with a couple of caveats. First, and most importantly, odds have less to do with the relative strength of teams as they do with how bookmakers think bettors will bet their money. Big difference.And second, among others at 100-1 are Rutgers, Cincinnati and USF. Not great company, right?Oh, but Pitt and Rich Rodriguez's Arizona are also there at 100-1, too. So there's that. All things considered, spending the better part of six days traveling to and through Oklahoma and Texas in late January could be worse. I never imagined saying this, but if I were at the Super Bowl it might be worse.Not that I would have detested the notion, but having gone to a postseason football event in New York a year ago and enduring cold and snow, it's just not something I'm eager to repeat. Granted, Denver-Seattle holds more intrigue and interest - and certainly far more significance - than did West Virginia-Syracuse, but I've always thought miserable conditions detracted from the fan experience.Please, show me someone - anyone - who returned from that Pinstripe Bowl and said, "Man, I hope we go back there again.''Then again, it is the Super Bowl and a bazillion people will watch it for one reason or another, even if it's just the commercials. I'll watch and actually hope for the worst weather imaginable, just because I like that the elements are a part of the game and always have been. When Team A beats Team B AND the elements, well, I just think it makes for a truer champion. Others will surely disagree and that's fine.
But here's the part of playing a game in New Jersey swamps in February that's really interesting (and ties into my betting theme). There are so many more possibilities for prop bets. You know, the ones that have nothing to do with the game. It's usually routine stuff like will the coin-toss winner receive or defer, or off-the-wall things like whether Richard Sherman will intercept a pass. You can get odds on both of those.But this year you can also get odds on the temperature at kickoff (the opening over-under was 34 degrees, according to Bovada) and whether it will snow (3-1 yes, 1-5 no).Renee Fleming is singing the national anthem. I have no idea who that is, but it's 1-2 that she will wear gloves when she belts it out and 5-4 that they will be white (3-2 on black, 4-1 on red and 3-1 on the what I guess amounts to the color field).The odds are 4-1 that Knowshon Moreno cries during the national anthem and the over-under on Peyton Manning's Omahas Is 271/2. I'm sure the half is to avoid a push, but what if he comes up with a new call, just Oma? Or better yet, Ha?It's even money that Pam Oliver will be the first sideline reporter shown after kickoff, relegating Erin Andrews to 5-7 odds. It's 3-2 that Michael Crabtree will mention Sherman in tweet DURING the game. There are odds on the color of the Gatorade dumped on the winning coach (clear is a 2-1 favorite, green the 10-1 longshot) and 2-1 that the MVP mentions his teammates first in his acceptance speech (God is the 5-2 next pick and fans are at 5-1. If you're a fan that's a longshot because "no one'' is at 4-1). It's 11-2 that the announcers will say marijuana during the telecast and 1-2 that Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers share a song during halftime.And, believe it or not, it is even money that at least one member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will go shirtless during the halftime show.In Jersey. In February. Where for some reason they're playing the Super Bowl.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.