Alabama is [viewed as] the best team in college football. Other than Georgia [who is just as good*], nobody else is particularly close. This is causing all sorts of issues for oddsmakers.
A historically great juggernaut?
Last year’s Alabama team [that needed a miraculous overtime pseudo-Hail Mary pass to defeat SEC-rival Georgia in the national championship game] was the highest rated college team ever in the 15 years of the Westgate’s computer power ranking.
This year’s team?
According to Ed Salmons, head oddsmaker at the Westgate, ‘Bama is a full FIVE POINTS better in the power rankings than they were last year.
This is causing problems for oddsmakers on setting actionable Alabama lines.
The “Tide Tax”
Alabama COVERED their first three games by a combined total of 58 points (Georgia, who actually played a ranked opponent in their first three games, covered by a combined 26 points).
This is causing oddsmakers to inflate the Alabama lines by up to five points, in line with their five-point computer ranking increase. According to Tony Miller, sportsbook director at the Golden Nugget, the Tide Tax™ is keeping sharp money away from ‘Bama games. Only the public is betting them heavily.
Causing oddsmakers further issues is Alabama eviscerating teams in the first half of games. Unlike that little weasel Urban Meyer at Ohio State, top SEC coaches like Nick Saban and Kirby Smart actually take their foot off the gas in the second half of blowouts. This is in part because SEC teams like Alabama and Georgia actually face difficult competition from within their own conference, and in part because Urban Meyer is an insecure little weasel who only feels good about himself by beating up on lesser schools.**
Regardless, even with the Tide Tax™, Alabama is favored by 48.5 points over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, making it the largest point spread between FBS schools in the last five years.
As for the rest of the year…
Theoretical lines for Alabama’s most likely college football playoff opponents (Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Clemson) have them as double-digit favorites against each (including Georgia!!!).
As Old Dominion showed though, anything can happen on any given Saturday. Or in Alabama’s case, anything can happen if they play another SEC school.
* Full Disclosure: Author went to the University of Georgia. This doesn’t make any pro-UGA statement not true though.
** This has been scientifically proven and is indisputable.
Golf is partying like it’s 1999.
Flashback almost 20 years ago. Tiger Woods was about to go on an unprecedented run. Country clubs were jacking up membership dues. You actually had to book tee times way in advance of your round. Golf TV ratings were at record highs.
Then Tiger started banging porn stars, crashed his car, got injured, couldn’t play, and the masses stopped caring.
As we’ve written, daily fantasy sports provided a teaser of how gambling could boost interest in golf. With Tiger turning back the clock and betting legal in the U.S., is golf America’s next big gambling sport?
At Fortune’s Brainstorm Reinvent conference in Chicago this week, a panel that consisted of veritable Nostradami predicted that, yes, sports gambling will make golf more popular.
According to George Pyne, CEO of Bruin Sports Capital, “You’re 19 times more likely to watch an event if you’re betting on it.” Given that simple season-long fantasy football will have me tuning in to watch the Cleveland Browns on a Thursday night in September just to see if Jarvis Landry can snag 8 catches (PPR league, obv) for 100+ yards, Pyne might be on to something there.
Pyne raises one good and very prescient point: Golf tournaments have 75+ players, making the gambling opportunities “off the charts.” From individual player props to basic round +/- wagers, golf offers more opportunities to bet for the action junkies.
As always, content is going to be king
The panel also discussed something we touched on this week: sports betting content opportunities and ways to further engage fans.
ESPN’s executive vice president of content, Connor Schell, confirmed that the mouse ears are creating more sports betting programming (including show called I’ll Take That Bet). This could also lead to more ways of interacting with and engaging gamblers.
“This is just the beginning of exploring how this changes how you connect with sports fans, and how you connect with the real avid and engaged sports fans.”
Buckle up, the sports betting landscape is taking off. Things are only going to get more and more interesting.