Florida Opens Season As Trillion-Point Favorites

We do not condone gambling. Except where it’s legal, but even then, bet with your head, not over it. That’s what the commercials tell us, anyway. But if you enjoy following sports lines for non-monetary, recreational purposes (and who doesn’t like that more than wagering money, areweright??), then there’s probably no more fascinating sport to watch than college football, where lines can vary from straight-up to, in rare cases, over 50 points. Oh, and everywhere inbetween. It makes even the most laughable of blowouts interesting.

Tim Tebow all muddy
(The game got out of hand when Tebow ripped the linebacker to shreds with his bare hands.)

But then there’s situations like what we’ve got in Gainesville. The defending champion Florida Gators open their season with perennial whipping boys Charleston Southern, who annually appear on a I-A schedule or two, only to get destroyed by about eight touchdowns. Florida, though, is not your ordinary team, and they’re notorious for running up the score in early games. So to that end, the USA TODAY has, essentially, predicted one of the worst beatings of the decade and made it the line for the game.

As the WIZ OF ODDS writes, the line on the game is Florida… -73:

Danny Sheridan of USA Today has made Florida a 73-point favorite in its Sept. 5 opening game against Division I-AA Charleston Southern. It’s believed to be the largest pointspread ever for a college football game.

Las Vegas normally doesn’t post lines on games involving Division I-A teams playing I-AA opponents for obvious reasons. It’s simply not a fair fight. I-A teams are allowed to have 85 players on scholarship, I-AA teams only 63. There are a myriad of other reasons, but Sheridan occasionally puts a number on such a game.

Yes, 73 points. Ten touchdowns and a field goal more than the other team… just for a push.

Mind you, Florida has scored more than 73 points once in the modern era of college football. That came near the end of the Steve Spurrier Era in 1997, an 82-6 erasure of Central Michigan. Other than that, you’ll have to go back a few more years for a 73-7 squeaker against then-hapless (and still hapless!) Kentucky back in 1994. They’ve played a generous amount of I-AA teams since then, but usually Florida calls off the dogs early enough to keep the margin respectable. And by that we mean in the 50s and 60s.

The rest of the Wiz’s article is boilerplate populist nonsense about wanting to overpunish schools for playing I-AA games. To wit, and you may want to hold your nose:

It’s also time for the Bowl Championship Series put a strength-of-schedule component with teeth in its formula.

These issues impact you, the fan. Aren’t you tired of paying higher prices for tickets and getting less? And if you want decent seats, you have to give money to the alumni association. All this in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. What are you getting in return? Charleston Southern?

College football has become nothing short of a scam, with coaches making millions of dollars and abusing fan rights by scheduling creampuff opponents in order to 1) go to a bowl game and 2) get another year on a rollover contract. Athletic directors, whose employment is often tied to the success of the football program, simply play along.

There are a litany of logical fallacies at work here, so many that it wouldn’t even be worth the five hours it would take to fisk it properly. Just know that if somebody tries to make an argument along the lines of “this industry which has trouble making enough money has figured out a way to do so, but I object because it’s not interesting enough for my job,” you may freely ignore them without missing anything of merit.

It’s good busiiness for teams to schedule I-AA opponents, even if the games are snoozers. There are worse things in the world than watching 2 1/2 quarters of Directional Butt State getting clobbered by a BCS team, then getting out of the stadium early and beating the traffic to the bar, after all.