At Least One Power Five Conference to Call Off Season a "Lock" Says Oddsmaker

Written by:
Don Shapiro
Published on:

The numbers suggest Vegas knows something. And the projections aren't a welcome sight for college football.

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On Sunday morning, an online sportsbook set odds for the chances a Power 5 program will postpone the football season until next year. The kicker is that the announcement must happen by August 15, 2020. 

The odds imply a 90.9% probability that at least one major conference will call off fall football very soon. 

For anyone who believes this will not happen, the payout is $55 for every $10 bet.

Will a Power 5 conference announce season postponement before 8/15/20?
Yes -1000
No +550

Shortly after 10 a.m. ET Saturday, word leaked that Mid-American Conference presidents had voted to postpone the fall sports season, including football. An emotional commissioner Jon Steinbrecher soon confirmed what he called "a miserable decision," and echoed many in saying, "If you told me in March we'd be here today, I'd never have believed it."

This is not all bad news for sportsbooks as the MAC said it hopes to play football in the spring, as do several FCS leagues that called off fall seasons last week.  This could simply translate into boosted revenues post-March Madness with everyone hoping a vaccine is discovered prior to this period.

The only MAC team that ended 2019 with a winning record was Miami (Ohio).

Many around the sport are watching two conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12, which often move in lockstep, according to Adam Rittenberg and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com.

"Nobody wanted to be the first to do it," a Power 5 coach told ESPN, "and now nobody will want to be the last."

A Power 5 administrator added: "It feels like no one wants to, but it's reaching the point where someone is going to have to."

The "Power Five conferences" consists of the Big Ten Conference, the Big 12 Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Pac-12 Conference, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

The Pac-12 is facing regional challenges to start football practices because of virus rates in Arizona and Southern California, as well as state restrictions, ESPN noteds.  This is in addition to the league also is dealing with #WeAreUnited, a broad and organized player unity group demanding improvements around health and safety, racial justice initiatives, compensation and other areas.

Pac-12 is widely expected to cancel the 2020 season as a result.

CBS Sports reported that the Pac-12 and Big 12 appear to be the next in line to cancel the college football season.  Indeed the bookmakers believe this is practically a "lock" to happen.

Big Ten presidents met Saturday and confirmed football practices will remain in the initial "acclimatization phase" until further notice because of information from the league's COVID-19 medical advisory groups.

The Big Ten is comprised of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Penn State, among others.

Sources said team physicians around the sport are noticing cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by viral infection, in college athletes who have had COVID-19.

From ESPN:

Some think the resource gaps between leagues like the MAC and the Power 5 will give the big leagues a chance to play, especially if reliable rapid testing improves. "The Power 5 can afford the high costs of testing," a Power 5 administrator said.

But can they afford the optics, especially if a Power 5 league decides not to play this fall?

"As much as the Big 12, SEC or anybody else wants to play and is making preparations to play, the presidents and chancellors aren't going to want to be on an island by themselves," a Power 5 athletic director said. "They will be the ones to shut it down, even if the league commissioners are determined to hold out. ... Everybody's going to be watching what the Pac-12 and Big Ten do over these next few days. That's for sure."

"The MAC's decision doesn't affect us at all," an ACC athletic director said. "They have to do what they feel is best, and we'll do the same."

Several Sun Belt sources told ESPN that the league remains committed to playing this fall and cares more about what happens in the SEC as opposed to other conferences.

- Don Shapiro, Gambling911.com

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