Wiz of Odds: Are some college games fixed?

Jay Christensen covered college football, among other sports, for the Los Angeles Times and produces the popular college football blog TheWizofOdds.com.

Are some college football games fixed?
 
The first word from a bettor who’s on the wrong side of a bad beat is usually “fixed.” Friends often chuckle until they suffer the same fate, then they are quick to repeat the mantra. Before you know it, half the people in a Las Vegas sportsbook on a fall Saturday afternoon can be seen walking around in some trance and mumbling the vexing word.
 
Truth be known, it’s harder than hell to fix a college football game. College basketball? Not as difficult.Isaac Burton Jr. was one of four Arizona State players involved in a point-shaving scheme.
 
From the standpoint of simple math, football is difficult to manipulate. There are 11 players to a side, and although not every player is needed to control the outcome, it requires the specific cooperation of individuals who handle the ball a majority of the time. Some lumbering lineman looking to cash in likely won’t help the cause.
 
Basketball, with only five players to a side and a rotation that often goes only eight or nine deep, is easier to impact. Get a point guard to agree to a turnover or two and it’s easy to shave points.
 
But one would be foolish to think there isn’t incentive to fix college football games. Gambling is prevalent on college campuses and students often spend as much time analyzing weekly spreads as they do studying for an exam. It’s a way of life and has been that way since before “Animal House.”
 
In the 1997 point-shaving scandal surrounding Arizona State basketball, 15 of 22 fraternities on campus were found to have records associated with a gambling ring.
 
But while everyone is quick to point toward students or student-athletes as evildoers in the fixing of games, there are other ways to compromise an outcome or — at the least — embarrass a conference.
 
Stephen Pamon talking to OSU and Illinois captains in 2007.Officials are easy targets, even in this age of replay. In 2007, Big Ten referee Stephen Pamon was at the center of one such case. Pamon was in charge of the crew working two late-season games that were marred by controversial calls. Here's a look at one of those fishy decisions here.

Yahoo! Sports reported after the season that Pamon and his wife filed for bankruptcy in 2002 after amassing over $400,000 in debt, an amount that Pamon’s sister-in-law said was in part because of gambling losses.

Pamon wasn’t charged with any wrongdoing, but he hasn’t been heard from since. A friend of mine calls the Pamon incident “one of the great barely reported scandals of college football.” The embarrassed Big Ten quickly moved to close a loophole and now requires a background check of officials.
 
Coaches quickly dismiss any knowledge of point spreads, but their actions often suggest otherwise. Florida entered its 2008 game against Miami as a 22.5-point favorite. With the Gators leading, 23-3, late in the fourth quarter, coach Urban Meyer sent in two

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Posted by bej0101
3 years ago

make no mistake about it, the refs/umpires are the one's who fix games..they have the control and the incentive money wise..its all about the cash to the refs/umpires..they should be investigated and polygraphed on a weekly basis..they are crooks..
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Posted by SIMUNOVIC
3 years ago

What about first Friday NCAAF game villanova verses temple??? Temple up one point, recover a fumble with zero time left and take it to the house to cover the 4.5 spread dirty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Posted by RissyGold
3 years ago

So the point of this article was what?? This was complete, useless dribble. On said topic: attempted game fixing does go on constantly. We hear about those games after the fact. How about someone coming forward (player, ref, official, manger, assistant coach, etc.) when the offer to fix is made so these dirtballs can be caught and arrested!! By the way, the people who everyone thinks fixes games - Vegas - is the entity who usually notifies the NCAA or NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL about really strange betting patterns indicating a possible "fix". How about pro-gambling article that demonstrates that Vegas is needed by the NCAA and NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL so cheaters/fixers can be caught to save the integrity of sports??
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Posted by empiremaker77
3 years ago

one of the greatest fixes was the wisconsin vs unlv game a few years back.it's when the power went out and vegas refunded all the bets even though wisconsin was covering .
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Posted by empiremaker77
3 years ago

one of the greatest fixes was the wisconsin vs unlv game a few years back.it's when the power went out and vegas refunded all the bets even though wisconsin was covering .
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Posted by brownbull
3 years ago

Yes, that Lakers/Kings series was without a doubt. It was obvious watching it. Kings whipped them consistently in that series but could not get a break. Turns out it came up in the whole Tim Doneghy fiasco. Surprise, surprise. Also, curious was the recent admission by NFL referee that he made a "couple" bad calls in the Steelers/ Seahwaks Super Bowl. More like 6 or 8 by my count.
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Posted by pauliswilling
3 years ago

i dont think any games are fixed in the nfl ,baseball,ncaa football or basketball or others,i also think all umps and refs are all legite.just as much as i think every time i walk in a casino....my chance to win is over 80 percent!!! i believe this as much as all our politicians are honest and that our government works for our people
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Posted by WatsOnYourMind
3 years ago

i dont think theres any doubt about it that many many games have been fixed. the kings-lakers series of a few years ago comes to mind. also the ravens-patriots monday night football game a couple of years ago. its more than just the refs. baseball stadiums employ distance changing technologies which can impact homeruns. basketball rims can emit slight electro-magnetic vibrations which can make shots miss. sound, lights, and many other more familiar "home field advantages" are all present. get used to it. there is no such thing as fair competition and its only getting worse. professional sports are becoming, if they have not already become, WWE.
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Posted by dagrad
3 years ago

Another good case in point for those of you who follow college football are the smaller schools like Toledo that don't get much attention. Few years ago their program was under some serious FBI investigations regarding their starting running back and quarterback fixing games. Its is said the games in which they shaved points...the quarterback sat out in the middle of the game complaining different injuries. All those games...they didn't cover. Oh yeah..he played the next week. As for the running back...he had quite a year of fumbles.....HMMMMMM!
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Posted by cts99
3 years ago

Your answer is simple look at the corrupt society we live in. Politicians,military,cops, media ect.Everyone has there hands in the cookie jar.So a 75 billion a year business like college football has no corruption. People worship money like a god and will do whatever its takes to get it.
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Posted by cts99
3 years ago

College football is twice as c corrupt as the nfl, as far as it being easy to fix a game football is snap.With most of the big money being bet offshore. Most guys never know it happens.One more thing to think about is are society's greed and love of money. They will do anything to get it. Like one of the posters above said he does not care if the game is fixed as long as he wins. That is the attitude of people that hurt are society.
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Posted by middletown
3 years ago

In big business as in the nfl and now college football there's always deceit and yes they seem to get these lines way too close, I felt at times word comes down at the 1\2 because so mush money was bet on one side, case in point LSU, they haven't been building casino's one after another year in and year out because there not making money. especially in football where more money is wagered than all sports combined.
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Posted by wchilde
3 years ago

The side of the story you do not hear about that Miami UF game is that the line opened at +23.5. With as many games coming right down the the number is just another reason why you jump on a line right when it comes out. Just this last week Clemson opened at -23 and ended at -27.5 and won by 25. Also you were not so happy if you slept on LSU even at -3 when it was already clear many UNC players were going to be out.
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Posted by MoneySRH
3 years ago

It's easy for refs to fix games! When your watching a game and the momentum is going and the team you pick is on a scoring drive. Here are some examples. It's 3rd down and you need this drive to cover the spread and the team successfully get's 1st down. Then you see a slight pause and a flag magically appears out of no where? The announcer who's broadcasting will say that was a bad call and the second broadcaster will say WELL you could have called that same call on every play but i guess refs are human and make mistakes? Just brushing off the fact that he didn't find the call at all suspicious? The timing of the flag killed the drive and the potential score! The team faces 3rd and long and an obvious pass interference or holding call happens and the refs completely ignore it! Another example is when a flag is thrown and they usually show the replay of the call so the broadcaster can comment on the situation. Your watching the game live and you see absolutely no penalty what so ever watching the game in real time! You wait for the announcers to speak up about it and for a replay of the said penalty but it never happens and the game goes on as if nothing suspicious even took place! Sometimes it feels like i am watching WWE. Just waiting for the script ending to take place. Not every game has weird call but it seems to happen quite a lot! I can feel when a momentum killing flag is going to happen. Next time you watch a game look for one of these types of calls. It will happen at the worst time and screw up the whole complexion of the game! It will happen exactly when it determines the whole out come of the game. Maybe not the game but the FINAL SCORE! The announcers even talk about the spread. I am sure the refs are aware of it as well! I remember hearing troy palamalu say in one interview... well if you bet against us you lost! He said it with a wink! Pitt covered that spread by 1 point! The gambling element will always play a factor in a percentage of the games. Mike and mike talk about it, skip bayless talks about it, the commentators talk about it during the game, the players talk about it. Everyone knows! That means the refs know as well!
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Posted by cs2xzst
3 years ago

As a bettor, I am not so much concerned as to a game being fixed or not. My concern is simply, am I on the right side of the fix!
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Posted by realscififan
3 years ago

I am not going to say there are no fixed games, but I would bet that if there are one a year I would be suprised. The money bet in vegas, reno, and other books have so much communication with the NFL, NCAA, and all other leagues that when there is an abnormal amount of money bet all parties know about it so far in advance of the game that all parties in the game are talked to before the game even starts. Questionable calls are going to happen. It is a game of human error, but the human errors on each game so overweigh the errors a ref makes that there is no way a ref can now what plays are going to happen to change the outcome of a game.
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Posted by golfkat
3 years ago

that was a good article. I agree with the author. I am a victim of questionable call in the Boise St game.
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Posted by FANTASY_HN
3 years ago

There are definitely fixed games in sports. Majority of the games are legit, but some game you can see the obvious. Why most games ending score are near the spread. This is what make great TV. No one will watch till the end of the game if it's already decide in the first half. This is big money for TV ads when more stay tune. Remember most game come down to just one big mistake!!!!
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Top Response

Posted by cts99
3 years ago

" Your answer is simple look at the corrupt society we live in. Politicians,military,cops, media ect.Everyone has there hands in the cookie jar.So a 75 billion a year business like college football has no corruption. People worship money like a god an..."