Luke’s Triple Option: Ten thousand to one

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The UConn defense had one of the worst seasons of all time and fired its defensive coordinator as a result. Photo by Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus

Put yourself in the shoes of a degenerate gambler. The kind that bets on whether the price of Bitcoin will rise or fall during the Super Bowl (before you ask, yes, you can bet on it) — and at the same time a diehard Husky fan. More fervent than even Big Red, Dale Nosel or any member of the dash boneyard dot com who yells at recruits on twitter in their off hours.

You’re looking for a moonshot, something that promises riches without risk, and is somehow also tied to your favorite school. The 2019-2020 UConn football season odds give you just that.

UConn, which was one of the worst teams in FBS last year, which owned possibly the worst defense of all time, is currently 10000/1 to win the 2019 college football national championship. You would have to bet just a dollar to win the equivalent of a new jet ski.

The Huskies share this spot, apparently the longest odds the Caesars Entertainment sportsbook in Las Vegas will apparently take bets on, with 21 other teams:

– Akron

– Ball State
– Bowling Green
– Central Michigan
– Charlotte

– Coastal Carolina
– Colorado State
– Georgia State
– Kent State
– Liberty
– UMass
– New Mexico
– New Mexico State
– Old Dominion
– Rice
– San Jose State
– South Alabama
– Texas State
– UTEP
– UTSA
– Western Kentucky

The list includes nearly half of the MAC, Sun Belt and C-USA, three out of five FBS independents and three different Mountain West teams. In a strange way, it’s an indicator that the American has done well in recent years to separate themselves from the rest of the so-called “Group of Five” — UConn is the only team in the conference to be such a longshot.

These crazy odds serve as a reminder that college football remains the most lopsided of all the major American leagues. In a sport where schools only play around 10 percent of the subdivision every year, only four teams get a chance at playing for the title.

That’s only in theory. In practice, there aren’t high-enough odds for these teams; it’s a reality that both proponents and opponents of UConn sticking it out in the FBS need to be aware of. The playoff committee has refused time and time again to put a group of five teams on close to equal footing to the old money of the sport.

So why do these teams, trapped in the cellar of the most unequal sport in America, field a team year after year?

Most of these athletic departments are in nearly as bad, if not worse shape than UConn’s. The University’s most recent financial report outlined an allocation percentage — the portion of athletic department revenues propped up by student fees — of just under 51 percent. Out of the schools with the longest odds to win a title in college football, just two have a lower allocation percentage than UConn.

Most of those teams either have a storied tradition in the sport or their own customs, history or rivalries that make them continue to spend money, the students’ money, on the program.

Western Kentucky might have gone 3-9 last year, but come the first weekend of November, beating Middle Tennessee in the Hundred Miles of Hate game would have made it all worth it: the two have played each other almost every year for four generations. Same with South Alabama and their more recent rivalry with Troy, playing for a wrestling belt and ruining their dream season at least once since 2012.

If they can’t lean as much on history or hatred, these universities might continue to support their teams out of the promise of something new or exciting.

Georgia State renovated the old Turner Field into a slightly used football stadium all their own. Colorado State opened their own in 2017, one of the most picturesque new stadiums in the country. Old Dominion tossed itself into the brave new world of FBS football in 2014, just five years after restarting the program from scratch, and has experienced early success.

At a second glance, maybe it’s not such bad company for UConn to be in. But if the Power Five never comes calling again and the Husky faithful want to keep football around where they’re at, UConn will have to get creative in finding ways to drum up passion in the fanbase, starting new rivalries or reigniting old ones, or find other ways to build excitement around the program just like others on the same level.

If they don’t, both fans and detractors will remain apathetic at best.


Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu.

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