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NFL Super Bowl Futures Betting After the Draft

Draft-2014-e1389404247238The NFL draft is in the books and despite a ridiculous amount of hype and media coverage surrounding the event it’s really a non-factor it determining who will win Super Bowl 2015. Part of the reason for this is the design of the draft with the worst teams getting the best players but it has more to do with the nature of NFL football. It’s a team game that places a strong emphasis on coaching and one in which its hard for a single player—even a great player—to ‘carry’ a team on his own.

In other words, the post draft futures odds for Super Bowl winner look very much the same as they did before the draft. The Denver Broncos remain the Super bowl betting favorite to redeem their Super Bowl performance from last season and win this year. The Broncos are +400 to win the Super Bowl while the defending champion Seattle Seahawks are +575. This is due to the same dynamic that resulted in Denver being favored in last season’s Super Bowl—the Peyton Manning factor. Manning’s high profile and general likability makes Denver the most ‘public’ team in the league. Unless they get off to a horrible start in the 2014 NFL season they’ll likely be overvalued on a game by game basis as well.

The San Francisco 49ers are the #3 choice to win the Super Bowl at +625. The Niners played the eventual champion Seahawks tough in the NFC Championship game but have had no shortage of off field distractions and internal discord since then. The only other team at single digit odds are the New England Patriots at +850. The Patriots also made their conference championship game but didn’t provide much of a challenge for the Denver Broncos.

There’s a big jump to the next teams—the Green Bay Packers (+1200) and New Orleans Saints (+1500) are the only teams priced at less than 20/1 odds. They’re followed by the Carolina Panthers (+2400) and Indianapolis Colts (+2500). There are five teams priced at +3000.

The biggest longshots are the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, both priced at +20000. The team with the first pick in the NFL draft—the Houston Texans—are priced at +40000 and have experienced little or no betting interest despite the selection of Jadeveon Clowney.


Marketing for BSU Sports Receives Little Support

Less than 10 percent of the sudent body came out for the CMU game this past October. Could more marketing be the difference?

Writer’s note: As a blog we typically do not go after sources but when we do we try to make it count. The following was a class project I completed and I knew it would be a great fit for OTP. I want to thank classmates Emily Dwire, Laura Beth Clymer, and Shiva Thinakal for hooking me up some interviews. Enjoy.

Molly Myers does not complain about her job as Director of Marketing for Ball State athletics but compared to other schools in the Mid-American Conference she is fighting an uphill battle. The marketing budget for Ball State Athletics does not stack up with fellow MAC peers.

“I believe it’s near the bottom,” Myers said. “Since I’ve been here my focus has been trying to be positive and focus on what you have to work with and not worry about what others have.”

With the limited budget Myers has to make tough decisions as to what sports are marketed and which games for the ones that are supported.

Even revenue producing sports such as football and men’s and women’s basketball are not immune to having certain games receive little to no dollars spent on marketing. In those cases Myers relies on free marketing such as Facebook events, Twitter, and campus e-mails to get the word out for upcoming home games.

“I can’t even market every single home game,” Myers said. “I have to be selective throughout the season of ‘these are the games that we should really try on focusing to get people to come to.’ There are some games that go by other than doing mentions through the free media that are not getting mentioned. I’m not doing a radio spot for it, I’m not doing TV for it.”

More money was spent marketing Ball State’s football game against Indiana in Lucas Oil Stadium than the other five home games in Scheumann Stadium combined. Even with a big turnout for the Indiana game Ball State finished 10th out of 13 teams in the MAC in average attendance. Basement dwelling Akron (1-11), Central Michigan (3-9), Buffalo (3-9) and Miami (4-8) fared better than Ball State (6-6).

For Myers, the biggest factor in attracting fans is out of her control.

Winning games.

Instead Myers can only improve the fan experience featuring the band, cheerleaders, Code Red dance team, and Charlie Cardinal.

“Those are the things we have control over,” Myers said. “Because if [fans] are coming and are like ‘that was really fun I had a great time, yeah it stinks they lost but lets go back again.’ Those are the pieces that I try to focus on.”

Fighting Negativity

A bad football team with a great marching band appears to be a tough sell for the student body. Then again this was the Stan Parrish era.

Even though he graduated from Ball State almost two years ago, Zach Brubaker still attends every Ball State home football and men’s basketball game sitting in student section titled “The Nest.” Describing Brubaker as a casual Cardinal fan would be like describing “Star Wars” as a casual film.

“We have 20,000 students that go to school here and only 400 came to the game,” Brubaker said after attending a men’s basketball home game against Miami University on Feb. 4. “Getting students here is more of a matter about getting students excited about sports which they are not. I’ve been to football games where students leave at halftime whether we are winning or losing.”

Brubaker has gone as far as creating facebook events for home sporting events. As a staff member for CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ) he is able to get a strong following to those games.

“We don’t have a storied history like bigger schools in Indiana like IU, and Purdue,” Brubaker said. “They can have losing seasons and still have pack houses.”

Seeing students wear gear of other universities upsets Brubaker as he sees it as a lack of pride. An example is Indiana basketball beating No. 1 Kentucky the same day Ball State defeated Butler for the first time in eight years on Dec. 10.

The Butler win had 8,421 fans on hand but attendance plummeted as Ball State went on a nine-game losing streak in MAC play. Attendance hovered around 3,000 fans for three of the final four home games with the exception being Senior night. Radio host Morry Mannies was honored at halftime of that game for his 56-year career. With tickets going for as a little as 50 cents only 3,935 fans showed up.

“It’s pretty pathetic that when IU beats Kentucky you see more IU shirts than Ball State shirts the next day,” Brubaker said. “There’s just not a lot of school pride and that’s been a problem since I was a student.”

Dave Heinkel, a Cardinal Varsity Club member, has tried to promote Ball State athletics but knows that most of the CVC’s efforts have been in vain. He admits there is a gap between Ball State and the Muncie Community.

“In my opinion there is some animosity toward Ball State and why I don’t know,” Heinkel said. “I think it would help if a lot of the people in Muncie would realize that a lot of the sports are free. What a better way to come out and bring your kids to an athletic event.”

Heinkel is not a fan of the Muncie Star Press and their coverage of Ball State Athletics as he gets his news from other sources.

“We’ve dropped the paper here because of the coverage in sports has been very negative,” Heinkel said. “They seem to get better coverage up in Fort Wayne than we get here.”

Heinkel has had conversations with several men’s basketball players and developed a relationship with guard Tyrae Robinson.

“You root for them when you know them personally,” Heinkel said.

The personal aspect can be seen with the men’s volleyball team. Student attendance is higher for the team as Myers views them as the best self-promoters for their ability to mingle with the rest of the student body.

“Seeing teams get involved in self-promoting, I think that’s where I’ve seen the biggest return on getting the students to come,” Myers said. “[Men’s volleyball] are probably the best self-promoters out of any of the teams that we have.”

Manufacturing a Rivalry

The Bronze Stalk trophy did not bring many fans to the game when NIU visited Muncie in 2010. Then again it was the Stan Parrish era.

With no other MAC team in Indiana, Ball State does not have a natural rival the way Indiana is to Purdue.

“Our big rival at one time was Miami,” Heinkel said. “Now that we’ve gone to divisions we don’t play Miami much.”

The MAC went to divisions in 1997 with Ball State and Miami on opposite sides of the East and West split.

Ball State has tried to manufacture a rivalry with Northern Illinois as both are the only MAC schools in their states. Problem is the schools are far apart as Dekalb, Illinois is roughly 290 miles away, a five-hour drive.

In comparison, Miami in Oxford, Ohio is only 70 miles away as a 90-minute drive.  Bowling Green is second closest (three hours) but both schools play in the East division leaving Ball State without a close MAC West opponent.

With no natural rivalry fans do not have that one “must see” game of the season, hindering average attendance.

One of the steps made towards building the rivalry with Northern is the Bronze Stalk Trophy given to the winner of the annual football game. The trophy was introduced in 2008 to make the game more meaningful for fans similar to the Old Oaken Bucket between Purdue and IU.  The Huskies hold a 3-1 edge in the trophy series.

“I think there has been a little bit trying to manufacture from our end and from their end too with the Northern Illinois piece,” Myers said.

Ball State still has a rivalry with Miami for basketball but only play once a year. The two schools have not met in football since 2008.

Former Cardinals’ Opponent Stops Their Program

Remember Northeastern? You know… the first win of the magical 2008 season that started it all out? I hope you got pictures of it, because that’s the last time Northeastern will be venturing from Boston to Muncie. In fact, Northeastern won’t be venturing anywhere anymore, because as of today their football program is no more. Via CBSSports

BOSTON — Northeastern University is ending its football program after 74 seasons because the investment required to make it competitive was too high.

The school announced the decision Monday after president Joseph Aoun and the board of trustees endorsed on Friday the recommendation by athletic director Peter Roby after a two-year review of the Boston school’s sports programs.

Roby said an investment of “tens of millions of dollars” to replace or upgrade spartan Parsons Field would be required to help make the football program competitive with others in the Colonial Athletic Association.

“I think everybody in higher education is faced with the dilemma of competing priorities and investments,” Roby said in an interview with the Associated Press. “So this wasn’t about what we were already spending. This was about what we were going to really need to spend going forward if we were really going to be fair about allowing people to compete equally.

“The status quo was not an option.”

The school spends more than $4 million annually on the football program while an average of 1,500 to 2,000 people attend home games, Roby said, but the size of the crowds was not a factor in the decision.

The program’s 87 players and 10 coaches learned the news Sunday night at a meeting on campus with Roby, a day after the Football Championship Subdivision team won its final game 33-27 at Rhode Island. The Huskies won their last two games to finish 3-8, their sixth consecutive losing season.

Northeastern began playing football in 1933 and took three years off from 1943-45 because of World War II. Its all-time record was 289-364-17.

The Huskies began their sixth season under coach Rocky Hager with a 54-0 loss to Boston College that started a six-game losing streak.

“Northeastern has always been guided by the principle that we should focus on our opportunities for leadership,” Aoun said in a statement. “This approach ultimately leads to difficult choices, but leadership requires that we make these choices. This decision allows us to focus on our existing athletic programs.”

Several outstanding NFL players, including defensive ends Sean Jones and Keith Willis and tight end Dan Ross, played at Northeastern.

Jones, drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in the second round in 1984, had 113 sacks in 13 seasons. Willis, signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1982, had 59 sacks in 11 seasons. Ross, a second-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1979, had 290 catches for 19 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons.

The university said players will keep their athletic scholarships through graduation if they obtain their degrees at Northeastern.

Roby was head basketball coach at Harvard from 1985 to 1991 and served as co-captain of Dartmouth’s basketball team in the late ’70s.

“As emotional as this decision is and was,” he said, “and as much as it was impacting so many wonderful people, coaches and athletes, you have to try to think about the big picture and do what you think is right. So that’s what I tried to do.”

It certainly brings up an interesting argument about whether or not being “financially viable” is the measuring stick by which a program’s longevity or even existence is going to be judged. There are probably more than a few FBS programs who would fall on the chopping block if more university staff members begin to allow existence only on financial independence. That’s bad news for a whole lot of programs, and certainly damning for universities that are controlled by administrators in the President’s office who think they know what is “best” and dabble in athletic decisions. I’m sure glad Ball State doesn’t have that problem. I’m thankful we have an athletic department and a football program that is financially awesome and a President that lets the department run the way it needs to. Wait a minute…

Parrish, BSU, Want Out of Iowa



It’s been a somewhat quiet week around BSU-land. We’re focused on Kentucky’s rivalry week here at OTP and the Cardinals have dropped two straight turds in their 09 punchbowl, against the perennial championship contender North Texas, and the dominating University of New Hampshire. In all truthfulness, it would have been fine with me for news coming out of Muncie to be fairly low key and virtually non-existent until the Army thrashing game. Leave it to Doug Zaleski to ruin an otherwise fine morning with this tidbit

Ball State has a football game scheduled at Iowa next season that coach Stan Parrish doesn’t want to play, and the school will examine whether it can delay the game or get out of the contract.

The Cardinals are still working on their 2010 non-conference schedule. They have scheduled games at home on Sept. 2 against Southeast Missouri State, at Purdue on Sept. 18 and at Iowa on Sept. 25.

Ball State athletic director Tom Collins said he hopes this week to finalize the fourth game, which would be at home on Sept. 11. He would not identify the potential opponent.

Collins said his immediate goal is to wrap up the non-conference schedule, then look at what possibilities might exist to make a change with the Iowa game slot.

“We’ll see if there’s anything we can do at that point,” he said. “I think Stan would prefer not to play (Purdue and Iowa) back to back, but it just hasn’t worked out date-wise (with Iowa).”…

…Purdue will pay Ball State $350,000 for next year’s football game. Ball State and Iowa signed a contract in March of this year to play in Iowa City next season. Iowa will pay Ball State an $800,000 guarantee for the game.

So let me get this straight…we don’t want to play Iowa because we would rather play Purdue? We are going to try to finagle out of an $800,000 game in favor of a $350,000 game? And I wonder why the budget for this athletic department is so screwed.

If the game can be moved, and it’s agreeable to both parties, then fine. That happens on occasion and isn’t a reason to get anyone’s panties in a twist. However, and it’s a sizeable Stephen A. Smith “HOWEVER…”, if this game gets moved to a different season or outright canceled, there is going to be hell to pay. It is beyond my comprehension how a school that operates on a shoestring budget can say to a school with their bags of money, “No… that’s ok. We don’t want your $800,000. We’d prefer to take less than half and play an in-state opponent.” Jesus. Christ. On a triscuit.

This is the kind of thing that worries me about this athletic department and gives at least a little bit of credence to what Jason Whitlock has been espousing on BSUFans… that this is the most horribly mismanaged athletic department in the country. And with a head coach openly saying, essentially, “This game is too tough. We don’t want to play it” along with an AD essentially saying, “We’ll take less money for an easier game” it makes me weep for the future. What’s next? Three FCS opponents and a game against Muncie Central High School? Why stop there? How about we play Northside Elementary. I mean, if we really want to stoop low, let’s just schedule the University of Louisville.

Play Iowa. Take the money. Stop looking like whiny bitches. Ask Boise State. Ask Fresno State. Ask BYU. They got better by scheduling teams far above them. On the road. And yes, Stan and Tom, back to back on occasion. I mean, God forbid those two games, regardless of the outcome, prepare you for the epic powerhouses like Eastern Michigan and Ohio. It’s been said that we have a notoriously cheap athletic department that operates “half-assed”… at best. This certainly makes the case for that argument remarkably stronger.

The Cost of Doing Business

The Ball State Daily News reports this morning that the financial numbers are in for the football team’s season ending trip to Mobile, AL and the GMAC Bowl. Their headline, laughable at best, “$142,000 Could Pay for a Lot of Things” gives the sort of impression that the money was not well spent, or that other programs, or areas of need are going unaddressed while those behemoth football players go gallivanting all over Mobile in their fancy jet planes with their silly marching bands and cheerleaders.

Marilyn Flowers, economics professor at BSU, had this to say about athletics, and specifically, charging a student an athletic fee in their tuition. “When it costs so much for kids to go to school, and you charge them $800 a year and most of them don’t go to any games, that I think is really unfortunate,” Flowers said. Excuse me while I el-oh-el.

It’s typical grandstanding and shouting at no one in particular that the .edu crowd does whenever the finances of football are mentioned or discussed. And while in theory, I concur, that a price tag of $142k is a healthy chunk of change for a budget and program already battling financial viability, the fact remains that it is a cost that not only isn’t going anywhere, it is the economics of sport that it takes money to make money.

It’s akin to looking at debt when you are trying to get yourself to mythical Debt Free Land. Things like car payments and rent/mortgage for the overwhelming majority of the population aren’t going to be eliminated from your personal balance sheet. It’s a cost of living, one that is somewhat unavoidable, and the key then becomes to keep the cost within a budget, however meager or extravagant it might be. That “keeping within your budget” theme is why we turned down Boise, why we take payday games at Auburn, etc.

For the Cardinals, their GMAC Bowl experience was a costly one, sure. But the net loss was right in the middle of the conference, so in terms of peer institutions and such, we’re doing alright, at least when it comes to this game, this season. It wasn’t a total financial disaster like some other Bowl trips may have been, and in the grand scheme of athletics, a $142k Bowl loss isn’t really all that spectacular, and nowhere the epic failboat that some of the Bowls available to us would have been.

The bigger argument is lack of understanding or thought as to what the “revenue” is for a trip and season such as this. It is unfortunately difficult to measure and nearly impossible to quantify things like notoriety, favor with the public, and reputation. And despite what all of the eggheads with tweed jackets and tortoise shell glasses will tell you, athletics plays a gigantic role in those intangible benefits. As a former admissions worker who met with prospective students and parents, you used the nationally relevant basketball team who had just beaten UCLA and Kansas as an in to discuss the College of Architecture and Planning. “Oh… you like baseball? We just had a pitcher go #1 overall in the MLB Draft. Now, let me tell you about our Teacher’s College”. The fact remains that most Average Joes couldn’t tell you who the top business school in the country is, but nearly everyone could tell you that Florida won the national championship. Sports matter, .edu, deal with it and move on to something else.

The fact remains that debating athletic policy and cost containment the same way you would look at academic programs is a fool’s game. It isn’t fair to the athletes, the athletic programs, or the administration to be held to the same standard as the physics department, the journalism school, or the business office, just as it isn’t fair to hold the history department to the same level as the basketball team. It’s different. In much the same way that GE is different from Harrison County REMC. Both similar, but very different bottom lines, economies of scale, and product margin. No one crams 106,000 fans into a Michigan physics lab.

So is $142k a lot to spend on one game? Sure. But what about the department that spends $10k on sending their mid level managers to a conference? How about the department that puts on a workshop or session for high school kids? Someone has to pay for those nametags, box lunches, and folders. What about the admissions office with their mailings, brochures, counselors, and tour guides? I don’t see anyone complaining about the small fortune they spend on all of those things. And the reason why no one swings from the rafters in utter disgust about any of those costs above is because of the benefits they provide, however intangible (professional development or community goodwill) or tangible (admission and enrollment) they are.

For the .edu crowd, not understanding sports, not liking sports, not really getting why anyone would watch such a boorish game with unbridled brutality and uncivilized behavior is one thing. Accusing the school or program of financial mismanagement or poor decision making over $142k is simply ridiculous.