Thanks to schools like USC and Ohio State we know a lot more about the impact of major violations on top level college football programs than we used to, and more than we probably ever wished we knew. Because NCAA sanctions at high level programs get so much media attention they are obviously going to have an impact on how the teams are perceived and how people bet on them . Successful college football bettors, then, need to be able to assess the real impact of the sanctions, how those impacts compare to the likely public perceptions, and whether value is created as a result. Here are five important general factors for college football handicappers to consider when thinking about the impact of NCAA sanctions on major college football programs:
What are the immediate impacts? – A lot of the sanctions are going to have significant long term impacts – limits on scholarships, recruiting, and bowl appearances will affect recruiting, for example. While those are significant and must eventually be considered, what you first need to look at is what the impact is going to be on the short term – the first season following the sanctions. In a lot of cases the short term impact isn’t that extreme, and won’t be as much as the betting public will assume it will be. If the sanctions revolve around recruiting factors, for example, then the short term impact won’t be big because the impacted recruits either aren’t on campus yet or are just freshmen who will redshirt or likely won’t be relied on in a big way. If the sanctions involved the suspension of key players, though, then the impact would be more immediately significant. If the sanctions led to changes in the coaching staff then there is obviously a big potential impact as well. The public won’t look at the subtleties of time when it comes to assessing the impacts, so if you do in your handicapping then you can often find an edge.
What players have been lost? – If football players have been suspended or have left the program as a result of the sanctions then you obviously need to consider the impact of those changes. If a top level player has been forced to leave then the public is going o react significantly and negatively. Before you join them in their panic you need to look at what the actual impact of the loss is. If the player was exceptional and there is no good backup in place then there is likely a big problem. If the player wasn’t really as good as his reputation, or if the backup is very good and ready to play, though, then the impact may not be nearly as significant as the sports betting public thinks, and there could be a value opportunity for the savvy college sports bettor as a result.
Has the ability of the coaches to do their jobs been impacted? – If the head coach or members of the staff have been fired or have resigned or been suspended as a result of the sanctions then there is an obvious impact on the program that needs to be assessed. If the coaching staff has managed to survive, though, then football handicappers need to assess how well they are going to be able to do their jobs, and if their effectiveness is likely to be compromised as a result of the sanctions. Are they going to face extra scrutiny? Were they gaining unfair advantages from their actions that they will no longer have. Will they struggle to get quality players as a result of the sanctions? To make winning football picks, you need to look for real impacts of the sanctions because the betting public will focus only on the perceived impacts, and those are often not accurate.
What is the public perception? – Is the public widely and deeply offended by the actions of the program and in favor of the sanctions? Do they think the NCAA was too harsh or unfair? Do they care at all? How the public reacts to the situation and the aftermath will have a big impact on how they perceive the impact of the situation, and how they treat the team when they next get a chance to bet on or against them. Reading public sentiment is sometimes difficult to do, but there will often be clear signs that the majority of the national public shares a perception.
What damage has already been done? – The NCAA moves at a glacial pace, so by the time they rule on the situation and assess their sanctions a lo of the impact of the situation could be felt. For example, at USC Pete Carroll had left and recruiting had been impacted well before the NCAA implemented their punishment. The betting public may react to what has been done without already considering that a lot of the impact of the punishments has already been felt and may not be much of a defining factor anymore.