We all know the SEC has become the dominant college football conference. In case anyone forgets, someone from the SEC is there to remind us, ad nauseum.
The public is keenly aware that as a conference they have won seven straight national championships.
The SEC also has more NFL roster spots than any other conference. That trend doesn’t figure to reverse anytime soon. This past April they had a record 63 players drafted, including 12 in the first round.
Blindly betting on SEC teams won’t do you a whole lot of good, however. Handicappers have gotten wise to the dominance.
The SEC might be the ultimate as far as wins and losses, but not nearly so much against the number.
I went back three seasons in my records. I have the SEC at an even 75-75-2 against the spread in out of conference regular season games. The odds makers couldn’t possibly have done a better job setting the line.
Bowl games are slightly skewed in the SEC’s favor where they are 14-9-2 ATS, a healthy 61%.
Like many things in life, the SEC dominance has produced some unintended consequences.
Every kid playing football in the Deep South, the heart of SEC country, has his eyes set on playing for one of the big schools.
From the time they are freshmen in high school, those kids have their eye on the mailbox looking for a letter to arrive with a return address from Athens, Georgia or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They keep their fingers crossed for that phone call from Nick Saban or Steve Spurrier.
Imagine the disappointment when that day never comes. For many of these young men they know this is their one way to gain respect in a community that cherishes football the way the American South does.
Instead, they take their talents and their dreams to a lesser program. The facilities aren’t the same, but the hard work is. Those dreams don’t die. They’ve just gotten redirected.
Now imagine you get to line up against one of those schools who insulted you by saying, sorry, you’re just not good enough. It might be the one and only chance you have to prove to those recruiters who snubbed you that you can play at their level.
These are tough southern kids, who grew up playing a tough sport. They might be outclassed athletically, but the desire is still there. Those kids play their hearts out every week. They reach down even a little further when they play an SEC school.
For the record, I did not include any ACC teams. I don’t envision going to Florida State or Clemson as much of an insult. I also did not include any teams from Texas. Texas A&M might become a mainstay in the SEC, but for now the state of Texas is Big 12 country.
Just taking the last three seasons, betting on non-SEC schools from the Deep South versus the SEC would provide you with a very nice profit.
Deep South teams currently in the Conference USA, which has recently added some schools, are 9-7 ATS during that period. That’s 56% winners. That would provide a slight profit, but nothing that’s going to make you rich.
Apply the same criteria to Sun Belt Conference teams, which you can argue are a notch below Conference USA, and you have an astonishing 12-4 (75%) record ATS in that same three-year period.
Take it down another level to the add-on games, those teams who are not even worthy of making the regular rotation of our schedule in the betting world, and the record is 18-8, 69%.
Just betting against the SEC versus Deep South, out of conference opponents would have given you a 39-19 record (67%) these past three seasons. That’s a big enough sample to provide reasonable statistical evidence when there is a solid theory behind the result.
Aberrations in the gambling world tend to even out as the public becomes aware of them. I think this trend has a little more run to it, however. Wiseguys don’t have any problem betting Jacksonville State or Furman, but the public wants to see Alabama or Florida written on their ticket. That won’t change while the SEC remains the power conference in college football.
Now all we have to do is make sure Nick Bogdanovich and Jay Kornegay don’t see this article so they won’t start adjusting the numbers and take away our value.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.com. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].