Cram Session: Buckeyes BCS odds still receiving big action

David Payne Purdum
A lot of college football bettors, and I mean a lot, are getting ready to learn a costly lesson: Beware a man in a sweater vest.

As of Tuesday, the sportsbook at the MGM Mirage had taken more wagers on embattled Ohio State to win the BCS title than almost any other team. Only LSU and Nebraska (oddly) had received more support, according to sportsbook manager Jeff Stoneback.

Ohio State opened as +2,000 (20-1) and received so much action that the Buckeyes’ odds were recently trimmed down to 10-1.

Oh, by the way, Ohio State is destined for some sort of probation and very well may be banned from competing for this year’s title, rendering those wagers worthless.

“At the bottom of our sheet (of BCS Championship futures odds), it says basically you have action regardless of anything like probation or anything like that,” Stoneback told “So when you make your wager, you know that if your team lands on probation and isn’t allowed to go to a bowl game, well, you’re not getting paid on your bet.”

The exact wording is: “All bets are action as long as the BCS declares a champion. Odds are subject to change. Please check with clerk for current odds. No refunds.”

A similar situation occurred last season when Southern Cal was banned from the BCS for various NCAA violations just weeks after the Mirage put up its BCS odds. In that case, they refunded all bets on the Trojans to win the title.

But not this year, said Stoneback. He debated taking the Buckeyes off the board, but decided to keep them up.

“If we took them off, it wouldn’t be right, because let’s say they don’t go on probation and what if they went on to win the national championship. Then what do we do?” Stoneback explained.

Five Buckeyes, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have already been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season by the time the BCS future odds were released in mid-January. Shortly after, head coach Jim Tressel received the same suspension after it was discovered he lied to the NCAA about knowing of the violations that landed Pryor and company on the naughty list.

There’s debate over whether or not the NCAA will hammer Ohio State with same level of sanctions it handed USC in the Reggie Bush scandal. Strong arguments exist for both sides. The problem for bettors is the NCAA isn’t expected to announce the penalties until the middle of August.

“If you’re betting on Ohio State, by now, you have to know that they have a possibility of going on probation,” said Stoneback. “You know, it’s buyer beware.”

Buyer beware the sweater vest.


• Oklahoma opened as the favorite in January and has stayed steady at +300 at the Mirage; offshore you can buy Bob Stoops’ talented squad for +350.

Alabama is next and has actually narrowed the gap slightly on the Sooners. The Crimson Tide opened at +600 but has been bet down to +500 at the Mirage.

LSU has been the biggest mover. Les Miles’ Tigers opened at +1,500 but were all the way to down +600 at the Mirage. The Sporting News has LSU ranked No. 1 in its post-spring Top 25.

• Preseason betting action on college football futures in Las Vegas is not an accurate reflection of which teams the betting public believes are the title contenders. Instead, it’s simply an indicator of which alumni bases took Vegas vacations. “It’s all public money so far,” said Stoneback.

• Florida’s transition from the spread to a pro-style has not been smooth. The offensive line particularly struggled. Quarterback John Brantley completed only 4-of-14 passes in the Gators spring game.

• Phil Steele’s College Football Preview goes on sale June 9. By the way, because I know this applies to several of you, it states clearly in oversized bright red type on Steele’s website that, “We do not ship to correctional facilities.”

• Some of the long shots being bet at the Mirage include Notre Dame. Despite not having a clear-cut starting quarterback, the Irish, who opened at +2,500, are down to +1,200.  Washington and Arizona State have each gone from +17,500 to +7,500.

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