Rabalais: On hedging Joe Burrow Heisman bets, coaches salaries and the good ‘ol BCS

4 weeks ago The Advocate 0

Notes on a golf scorecard while wondering what I’m doing inside writing on the most beautiful day of the fall instead of losing golf balls hither and yon …

… As a commercial loan officer, Matt Porter knows a good risk from bad. But even he couldn’t believe what he was seeing in June when he found out LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was listed as a 200-to-1 shot for the Heisman Trophy.

“I thought it was a typo,” Porter said. “So I looked it up and said, ‘I’m putting $50 on that.’ That’s a heck of a value. There’s no way Joe should be 200-to-1 the way he finished (last) season.”

The way he’s started this season, Burrow has become the betting Heisman favorite as he leads No. 2-ranked LSU into Saturday’s showdown with No. 9 Auburn (2:30 p.m., CBS) in Tiger Stadium. According to BetOnline.ag, Burrow is currently 5/4 to win the Heisman, followed by Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts at 2/1 and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who dropped from the favorite’s spot after his high ankle sprain last Saturday at 3/1.

If Burrow wins the Heisman on Dec. 14, Porter, a former LSU student, pockets $10,000 on his original $50 bet.

Or does he? For weeks now, the folks running his betting website have been sending him offers, enticing him to take pennies on the dollar to forego his bet.

“After (Joe) did well in week one I thought I should make sure I actually laid down that bet,” Porter said. “I logged in and pulled the bet up and there was an icon that said ‘Cash out now.’ It was for roughly $1,100.”

Most weeks since, Porter has been getting different offers to cash out, mostly higher, some lower. Monday, the cash out offer was $3,800, though he said it has been going down during the week, following a previous pattern as LSU’s next game approaches.

So, Matt, deal or no deal?

“This week I’m definitely letting it go,” said Porter, who once worked as operations manager for the now defunct Baton Rouge Blaze indoor football team and now lives in Fort Lauderdale. “Then there’s the bye week. I’ll take it to Alabama week. I would imagine Alabama week would be the best offer I would get. Then I’ll make a determination.”

Porter, an LSU season-ticket holder, said he plans to be in this weekend to root on his team. And check on his investment.

“I’m more scared about how well Joe plays this week than against Alabama, to be honest,” Porter said. “I think if LSU lost a close game to Bama and Joe still put up pretty good stats he’d essentially be given a pass because of LSU and Alabama’s history.”

… So LSU coach Ed Orgeron, a strong national coach of the year contender whose 7-0 Tigers are ranked No. 2 in the nation, is making the same $4 million per year salary as Arkansas’ Chad Morris, Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente and Illinois’ Lovie Smith? That’s according to USA Today’s annual and thorough study of college coaches salaries.

Orgeron, as you may recall, got a $500,000 raise to $4 million in March plus a two-year contract extension. Part of his sales pitch when trying to land the LSU job in 2016 was to take less salary to have more cash on hand to pay his assistants. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s $2.5 million per year salary being a prime example.

If LSU stays close to its current track, Orgeron will deserve another bump from where he is, which is tied for eighth in the SEC and tied for 30th nationally. The bigger question for athletic director Scott Woodward, however, is how to come up with a compensation package that both keeps offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger happy and passing game coordinator Joe Brady on the staff. They’re making $800,000 and $400,000, respectively, this season, a bargain considering how LSU has played. Paying them what Aranda makes combined would probably still be a bargain. Especially since five-star Georgia tight end Akim Gilbert, who shocked the recruiting world by committing to LSU on Wednesday, said one of the factors putting the Tigers over the top was what Brady has brought to the LSU offense.

… While there is near constant debate about whether the College Football Playoff should stay at four teams or expand to eight (or more), one thing you don’t hear is anyone pining to go back to the days of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).

That said, you can find remnants of the old system if you look hard enough. A Twitter account called BCSKnowHow.com still tracks the old BCS formula and applies it to the current season, using six of the old BCS computer rankings.

According to that compilation, LSU would be No. 1 in the BCS standings, followed by Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson. Auburn would be No. 8. LSU is No. 1 in two of the BCS computer rankings (Billingsley, Wolfe), No. 2 according to Anderson & Hester and Colley, No. 4 according to Massey and No. 5 per Sagarin.

If you’re wishing for a return to the good old BCS days, BCSKnowHow.com reminds that the BCS formula would have chosen the same top four teams as the College Football Playoff’s human committee since the CFP’s inception in 2014.

Speaking of the CFP rankings, the first ones of the season will be released Monday, Nov. 4.