Tar-And-Feathered Heels Muddle Early College Football Lines

Written By Grant Lucas on August 8, 2018
Tar Heels

Remember those days when the new Jordan kicks would hit the shelves and you’d wait in line and battle anyone for better position like Sylvester Stallone in literally everything he’s ever done?
Well, North Carolina football players clearly don’t have that problem. Actually, quite the opposite. They have so much Jordan gear they are willing to pawn it off like that creepy ceramic dog that’s been sitting in the corner of your garage since the Dust Bowl.

Just a few weeks before the Tar Heels were to kick off their college football season at California on Sept. 1, 13 UNC players were busted and suspended by the NCAA for selling school-issued, special-edition Nike Jordan shoes. Each will serve a one- to four-game suspension, including likely starting quarterback Chazz Surratt.

Why should we care?

For all we know, this could have been a 300-level course at the university. Regardless, it is a secondary NCAA violation. As a result, early sports betting takers for the Tar Heels’ season opener are Carolina-screwed.

Imagine thinking you got the value pick of the year by taking the Heels to cover. The rationale is understandable.

Last year, UNC was plagued with injuries (including Surratt). Coach Larry Fedora was forced to throw youth into the fire, likely during an already-rebuilding year, on the way to a 3-9 record.

But those young players were bound to return with enthusiasm, a full season under their belts as they attempt to revitalize a program that had reached eight bowl games in nine years heading into last season.

Surrat himself started seven of the first nine games last year and finished with a team-leading 1,342 yards passing. Defensive end Malik Carney led the team with 12 tackles for loss and  5.5 sacks. Ends Tomon Fox and Tyrone Hopper combined for 5 sacks among their 24.5 tackles. And Beau Corrales emerged late last season as an emerging and dynamic wide receiver for the heels.

Then this happens: 13 players were busted were busted for selling their Jordans off. Certainly many of those early bettors are throwing themselves down a set of M.C. Escher stairs.

So what happens now?

As noted above, the ever-exciting season opener between UNC and Cal — two programs with a combined over/under win total of 10.5 — has been pulled from several sportsbooks.

Surely the game will return once more intel comes in on the players who will be filling in for those incumbent starters. Additionally, due to several suspended playing the same position, the NCAA approved UNC’s request to stagger suspensions throughout the season. (Carney, for example, will still play Sept. 1 before missing three of the next four games.)

So now it’s up to John Nash to determine what the new line should be. Or Charlie Day.
What if either of these schools was collecting integrity fees on bets, like the NCAA initially advocated for a while back? Now these suspensions could be perceived another way as they are more under the microscope because of the school’s ties to sports betting. There’s a dystopian future to consider.

Back to the real world, though. As mentioned above, the Tar Heels were 6-point underdogs heading into the opener. Chatter abounds regarding the line once this game does return to the book.

Well before this news broke, UNC was projected by South Point sportsbook to win just five games this season. Now, word has it that the Heels could get back on the book as 7.5-point dogs.

Time will tell, however, as we wait for Will Hunting to reset the line. Or Charlie Day.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf.

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