It seems like we are in the era of the scandal in college football. The list of teams that haven’t been under investigation at some point in the last decade is much shorter than those that have. Recruiting violations, players receiving benefits, contact with agents, improper training – the list of possibilities is long and varied. Since scandals have become so prevalent – and increasingly widespread – college football handicappers need to be particularly aware of what the impact is going to be on the team involved, and what the public will perceive that impact to be. Here are six factors to consider when trying to determine what a scandal could mean to a college football team and your sports betting this season and beyond:
When did it happen? – There seems to be a recurring pattern whenever any new NCAA scandal emerges. When the news first breaks everyone panics and assumes the worst. As more information comes out people become more interested, and the speculation becomes even more intense. After a while, though, interest wanes and – combined with the glacial pace the NCAA moves at in their investigations – momentum grinds to a halt. People figure out what the initial impact of the scandal is, then things go on basically as normal – or at least as normal as they can after any initial changes – until a final ruling comes down or more revelations surface. The more time that passes without new information, the less significant the short term impact of a scandal is going to be. By that logic, then, a scandal that breaks in February will likely have much less impact on college football games in September than one that breaks in August because the team will have had much longer to come to terms with the scandal and the lasting impact, and the public attention will have moved on and become far less intense.
Are current players or coaches impacted? – It’s very different when a current football player or coach is involved than it is when a situation affects players who have left the program. By the time USC’s issues with Reggie Bush really came to a head, for example, Bush was already an established NFL disappointment, and Pete Carroll had returned to the NFL. The day-to-day impact of that situation, then, would have been far less significant than Ohio State’s issues which resulted in the loss of a legendary coach and star QB and the suspension of others.
What changes occurred as a result? – If nothing changed after the scandal then the impact of that scandal isn’t likely to be particularly significant. Did a head coach leave? How about any assistants? What ill that mean the team? Are any players suspended, or did players leave the team? How popular or significant were those players? Were their departures controversial, or were they seen as inevitable and fair? How have the policies and procedures of the team changed as a result of the scandal? Has practice time been limited? Has recruiting been impacted? The more you can consider the possible changes and what they might mean, the further ahead you will be when it comes to understanding its betting implications.
Has penalty been assessed? If not, when? – It can take the NCAA forever – sometimes years – after a scandal first emerges for them to assess a penalty. That delay can have different impacts. On one hand it can hang over a football program and act as a distraction. On the other hand, until the penalty is assessed the program could have access to coaches, players, or resources that they won’t eventually have, so the delay could work to their advantage.
What is the real impact? – Whenever a scandal breaks the media will paint the worst case scenarios. It is crucial that you don’t panic along with everyone else, and you think about what the real meaning and impact of the situation might be. Will it really have a profound impact on the team, or will things go on pretty much like normal? Is the team really affected by what is going on and the repercussions, or is this really more of a story being spread by the media?
How is the public responding? – As in all aspects of college football handicapping the biggest factor here is not what you think will happen, but how what you think will happen compares to the public perception of what is going to happen. If you are generally in agreement with the widely held opinion of a given situation then you might not find much value as a result of the scandal. If you think the sports betting public is overreacting, or if they aren’t attaching enough significance to a situation then you could find a real chance at value – especially in the first few games a college football team plays before the public can adequately adjust to the new reality.