Suspensions are a fact of life in college football, and it seems like they are more and more common these days. It seems like their is a new violation reported every day, media scrutiny is at an all-time high, and the pressure to clean up college football has never been more intense. It’s very common to see a player suspended by the school, the league, or the NCAA for a game or more, and this can often happen on short notice. Star players aren’t spared in these suspensions, and they may even be more vulnerable because they face more temptation to do wrong because of their visibility.
A suspension is obviously big news, and it can have a big impact on the football team that loses the player. It can also have a big impact on where the lines are set, how the betting public reacts, and where the value is in betting on a game. That means that football bettors need to think about what the impact of a suspension is in order to be sure they are making the right bet. Here are five questions for college football handicappers to ask when considering the impact of a suspension in college football:
How key is the player? – When a player is suspended – especially a football player with a recognizable name – the media, and by extension the public, will quite often overstate the value of the player. They will give the player more credit to the outcome of games than he likely deserves. There are a couple of reasons for this. Most significantly, football is the ultimate team game, so the loss of one player isn’t going to be as significant as it would be in other sports because ten other players are still their doing their jobs. In order to accurately assess the impact of a suspension, then, you need to get a true, accurate assessment of how good a player actually is, how effective he has been recently, and how much of an impact he has on the outcome of the games his team plays. The large majority of sports bettors will just make assumptions, so the more accurate of a picture you can paint for yourself the better off you will be.
Who is the backup? – As important as the player who is lost is who will be taking his place. In college football there is always talent coming along the pipeline. Perhaps the backup player is a very capable player who just hasn’t climbed the depth chart enough to get significant playing time. In a case like that the impact of the loss could be reasonably insignificant because the backup is solid. In rare cases the backup is even better than the starter, so the loss of the starter is actually a boost to the football team. The backup will almost certainly be less familiar to fans and bettors, but that doesn’t mean he will be less effective.
How much time do they have to prepare for the loss? – The longer a NCAA team has to prepare for the loss of a player – to get the backup ready to play and adjust the game plan accordingly – the better they are likely to be prepared for the changes, and the less significant the impact is likely to be on the game and sports bettor. On the simplest level if a player is suspended on a Monday before a Saturday game the team will likely be much better off than if the suspensions comes on Friday. There’s another level to look at here, too – if the team has had reason to expect the suspension could happen for some time before it happened then they could have had plenty of time to prepare for it and overcome the impact. That could be the case if a player or a program is under investigation by the NCAA, for example.
How key is the position in the next game? – The more significant the role a position is likely to play in a game, the more significant the impact of the loss could be. For example, the loss of a star cornerback could be a huge loss for a team when they are facing a strong passing team that throws whenever possible, but would be far less of a concern if the opposing team tends to rely on the run and only passes some of the time. The opposing football team will likely adjust their game plan to some extent to try to exploit the new starter, but some teams will be more effective at being able to do so than others. The ability of a team to do so will have a big impact on the impact of the loss of the player.
How is the public reacting? – Like in any situation in sports betting the key to finding value and making smart bets is not just being able to interpret what is likely to happen in the game, but also being able to interpret how the betting public is reacting to a situation and what that means. If the public panics about a loss of a player – which they will very often do – then they are likely to bet against the team that suffers the loss more than they should, and that will force the line to move – perhaps further than it should. That could create nice value for the college football handicapper who believes that the panic isn’t warranted. Make your bets accordingly.