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Gator Wager: What are the odds?

Written by Brent Mechler, September 27, 2012, 0 Comments,
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It was this past Sunday, but it felt like September, 2005.

There I stood in the Mandalay Bay Race and Sports Book, gripping a $100 bill and staring at the illuminated odds board.

Déjà vu sent me reeling back to the same place, same scenario — different time. And for the appropriately orange-illuminated team name I was staring at — far different circumstances.

Different odds too.

‘05-’06 Florida — 75:1

‘12-‘13 Florida — 25:1

There was no hesitation that 2005 fall day as I approached the wagering window.

“$100 on Florida to win 2005-2006 NCAA Basketball Championship.”

It was a wager driven far more by blind loyalty and unfounded optimism than by any soothsayer-type insight.

But as the saying goes, “It is better to be lucky than good.”

And as history testifies, I was lucky and the Gators were better than good.

Way better.

Many adjectives could be used to describe my 2012 Vegas trip, but up to that moment — “lucky” would certainly not be among them.

Was that about to change, as it did seven lucky years ago?

My eyes were weary and vision blurred … the combined effects of a Vegas weekend and gazing too long at the board. I stared as if waiting for the answer to emerge.

A few teams and numbers did seem to glow a bit brighter, as I contemplated, agonized and deliberated.

UK 13:2 — Say it ain’t so — UK favored to win it all? That can’t be done with a freshmen and sophomore laden lineup! Well, it can’t be done twice. Hey, repeating is very difficult. After all, the last back-to-back champions were — c’mon, go ahead and say it, ‘Cat fans! OK, I will concede that UK is loaded again, but there is no way you lose that much talent and repeat. At least, I hope not. I like Gator Country far too much to wager on an event that would literally implode the forum. Next …

IU 7:1 — Wait a minute — I thought this was deja-vu 2005, not 1981. Yes, IU will be good . . . perhaps very good. But these guys allowed way too many points last season, ranking 158th overall in scoring defense. Unless the Hoosiers burn clock and “run the picket fence,” I don’t see that changing. Me? I’m not going to get caught watching the paint dry. Next . . .

FSU 50:1 — The top four scorers return to a team that didn’t score. Yippee! I tried to envision a 38-36 National Title Game — not happening. Next. . .

Louisville 8:1 — Billy was happy for his mentor. I’m bitter. Next. . .

UCLA 12:1 — Reeves Nelson is gone, meaning coach Ben Howland can sleep easier and his players can sleep — drier. Ok, ‘pee’ jokes aside, this team was a train wreck last season. And though the Bruins boast a lineup as talented as any, I think it takes more than a season to shake off the after taste. Speaking of taste, Joshua Smith is hungry. Next. . .

Michigan St. 25:1 — I consider Tom Izzo the best game coach in the country. Though he is bringing back a talented, experienced, deep and athletic team . . . he has lost Green. I don’t want to lose mine. Next . . .

Missouri 30:1 — Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon are back. But so is Frank Haith. Besides, Norfolk State may make the tourney again this year. Next . . .

Creighton 50:1 — This is probably pretty good wagering value, but I still have nightmares in which I am Orien Greene. My wife wakes me from my fit, sweating and screaming “timeout!” Next. .

South Carolina 300:1 — The Gamecocks will be terrible, but the last thing I want to do is make Frank Martin upset. So, after token consideration given, next . . . 

Ohio St. 15:1 — Sullinger and Buford are gone, but there is arguably not a better recruiter in the game. Yes, that includes Calipari — who is hardly recruiting at a football mecca. Craft and Thomas have the ability to take the Buckeyes deep, but when OSU gets too close to a title they typically meet Florida. Next . . .

Iona — No odds? I grew up a rabid Gaels fan — I had to at least look. Next . . .

I shuffled forward, still holding my bill and craning my neck to keep the wagering board in sight.

I am not sure why I feigned some sort of decision-making process.

My wager was a forgone conclusion.

It always had been.

I stepped to the window.

Déjà vu.

When I returned home my wife instantly asked, “How much did you lose?”

I initially did not answer, but slipped my wagering ticket into my sock drawer, just as I did seven years ago.

“Let’s just say that on April 9, we will buy the dining room table,” I slyly said.

“You bet on the Gators, huh?” she replied somewhat exasperated.

It was 2005 all over again.

About Brent Mechler

Brent Mechler Basketball
Print Friendly

It was this past Sunday, but it felt like September, 2005.

There I stood in the Mandalay Bay Race and Sports Book, gripping a $100 bill and staring at the illuminated odds board.

Déjà vu sent me reeling back to the same place, same scenario — different time. And for the appropriately orange-illuminated team name I was staring at — far different circumstances.

Different odds too.

‘05-’06 Florida — 75:1

‘12-‘13 Florida — 25:1

There was no hesitation that 2005 fall day as I approached the wagering window.

“$100 on Florida to win 2005-2006 NCAA Basketball Championship.”

It was a wager driven far more by blind loyalty and unfounded optimism than by any soothsayer-type insight.

But as the saying goes, “It is better to be lucky than good.”

And as history testifies, I was lucky and the Gators were better than good.

Way better.

Many adjectives could be used to describe my 2012 Vegas trip, but up to that moment — “lucky” would certainly not be among them.

Was that about to change, as it did seven lucky years ago?

My eyes were weary and vision blurred … the combined effects of a Vegas weekend and gazing too long at the board. I stared as if waiting for the answer to emerge.

A few teams and numbers did seem to glow a bit brighter, as I contemplated, agonized and deliberated.

UK 13:2 — Say it ain’t so — UK favored to win it all? That can’t be done with a freshmen and sophomore laden lineup! Well, it can’t be done twice. Hey, repeating is very difficult. After all, the last back-to-back champions were — c’mon, go ahead and say it, ‘Cat fans! OK, I will concede that UK is loaded again, but there is no way you lose that much talent and repeat. At least, I hope not. I like Gator Country far too much to wager on an event that would literally implode the forum. Next …

IU 7:1 — Wait a minute — I thought this was deja-vu 2005, not 1981. Yes, IU will be good . . . perhaps very good. But these guys allowed way too many points last season, ranking 158th overall in scoring defense. Unless the Hoosiers burn clock and “run the picket fence,” I don’t see that changing. Me? I’m not going to get caught watching the paint dry. Next . . .

FSU 50:1 — The top four scorers return to a team that didn’t score. Yippee! I tried to envision a 38-36 National Title Game — not happening. Next. . .

Louisville 8:1 — Billy was happy for his mentor. I’m bitter. Next. . .

UCLA 12:1 — Reeves Nelson is gone, meaning coach Ben Howland can sleep easier and his players can sleep — drier. Ok, ‘pee’ jokes aside, this team was a train wreck last season. And though the Bruins boast a lineup as talented as any, I think it takes more than a season to shake off the after taste. Speaking of taste, Joshua Smith is hungry. Next. . .

Michigan St. 25:1 — I consider Tom Izzo the best game coach in the country. Though he is bringing back a talented, experienced, deep and athletic team . . . he has lost Green. I don’t want to lose mine. Next . . .

Missouri 30:1 — Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon are back. But so is Frank Haith. Besides, Norfolk State may make the tourney again this year. Next . . .

Creighton 50:1 — This is probably pretty good wagering value, but I still have nightmares in which I am Orien Greene. My wife wakes me from my fit, sweating and screaming “timeout!” Next. .

South Carolina 300:1 — The Gamecocks will be terrible, but the last thing I want to do is make Frank Martin upset. So, after token consideration given, next . . . 

Ohio St. 15:1 — Sullinger and Buford are gone, but there is arguably not a better recruiter in the game. Yes, that includes Calipari — who is hardly recruiting at a football mecca. Craft and Thomas have the ability to take the Buckeyes deep, but when OSU gets too close to a title they typically meet Florida. Next . . .

Iona — No odds? I grew up a rabid Gaels fan — I had to at least look. Next . . .

I shuffled forward, still holding my bill and craning my neck to keep the wagering board in sight.

I am not sure why I feigned some sort of decision-making process.

My wager was a forgone conclusion.

It always had been.

I stepped to the window.

Déjà vu.

When I returned home my wife instantly asked, “How much did you lose?”

I initially did not answer, but slipped my wagering ticket into my sock drawer, just as I did seven years ago.

“Let’s just say that on April 9, we will buy the dining room table,” I slyly said.

“You bet on the Gators, huh?” she replied somewhat exasperated.

It was 2005 all over again.

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