Producing college football games of the year each August is a labor of love, Diet Pepsi and Coronas.
"There’s a lot of work that goes into it, both at home and on property," said Jay Kornegay, race and sports manager at the Las Vegas Hilton. "We handle it much like a fantasy football draft. Just four avid football guys wanting to give our customers a good choice."
The "2004 Games of the Year" started with Ed Salmons, Jeff Sherman, Matt Metcalf and Kornegay deciding both together and separately on what became the 81 best college servings for the coming season, which begins in earnest Sept. 4 with Colorado State at Colorado and Oregon State at LSU.
"The four of us gather at one of our homes and pound it out," said Kornegay, architect of the annual list when occupying the same job at Imperial Palace. "It takes a few hours to get the teams together. We’ll argue about what teams to put up using a criteria of whether the matchups carry both conference and national impact."
Kornegay said the complete list must cover every part of the country so the customers have a complete variety from which to choose.
"We’ll hash it out awhile, break off, make numbers on the games and re-convene to establish the final line," he said. "The lines get updated when significant news from college football takes place. During the course of the year, we will take the games down each Saturday and post them again on Sundays."
The Hilton stays two weeks ahead of schedule on making the football pointspreads both for college and the NFL. Opening lines go up each Tuesday.
"The NFL exhibition season starts a week later this year (Aug. 9) with the Hall of Fame game (Broncos vs Redskins) in Canton, Ohio," Kornegay said. "We opened Washington -3 and 35."
The college season begins with USC vs Virginia Tech at Landover, Md., in the annual BCA Classic on Saturday, Aug. 28. Interestingly, that game is not part of the 81.
"The four of us come up with what we believe are the best lines for the top games on the board," Kornegay said. "When all of us are happy with a line and game, we go for it. The bettors have really responded favorably, which makes all the hard work worthwhile. And, the Coronas aren’t bad."