Updated: Friday, July 27, 2007

The running of the voles

Today marks a great day in the history of this unborn college football season, the official blog premiere of the Las Vegas proposition bets, first appearing over at The Wizard of Odds. Before I get to a more specific analysis of the early returns, a more in-depth look at the rich history and the glorious tradition of the secret world of the bookmakers, also known as the American Rotary Club.

The shadowy organization known to us as the Rotary Club is actually an intricate network of degenerate gamblers, organized only by their depravity, shielded from prying eyes through their enormously generous charitable donations and accompanying pancake breakfasts. Buffalo bruncheons were canceled in 1836 due to scarcity. The Rotrarians worship Fate and all of its fortuitous whimsy, symbolized by the circular gear in their logo. The Gear was added in 1921 further disguise themselves as a legitimate industrial concern. Andrew Carnegie's cousin, Silas Carnegie, the famous vole-shipping magnate, was a legendary member behind the change and also famous for correctly wagering on the Boxer Rebellion, but none of this is important. Present Day, the crux of the Rotary Club's power and influence lies in Las Vegas, where they pull the hidden strings on the entire local gaming industry and practice their bizarre rituals in the underground meeting centers of oft-neglected downtown casinos. Rotrarians are the true setters of the Vegas line, a blood line that has been passed down since the days of King Solomon, and determine all proposition bets in the dark ritual known only as Four-legged Rounders. Every July, following the traditional feast of the Luprecal, and just before the local pancake breakfast, hordes of members flood the underground passageways bunkered beneath The Mint casino. There amongst the discarded table felt and copious supplies of slave labor, they meet in their inner-sanctum of book-making, home to their spinning arena.

The game is simple. A large spinning wheel covers the surface of the arena floor, and the perimeter of said wheel contains 51 identical holes, each labeled with the previous year's top 50 football teams. The 51st spot is left vacant in homage to Gamblor, their neon diety. In recent years, this spot has been known to represent "the field," when applicable. At the third call of the conch horn, all assembled members proceed to sing the sacred Rotrarian hymn, Camptown Races in the traditional French. Following the coda, 51 four-legged woodland creatures, ranging from the smallest marmot to the mangiest skunkbear are let loose upon the twirling battlefield. Each "varmint" has a number between 4 to 11 (accounting for half-steps) painted upon its greasy coat in indelible ink. When a forest-dweller reaches a marked hole by either mortal combat or fleeing, the opening line is set for the corresponding team. The result is a beautifully gamy display of chance in its purest form.

With that exposition out of the way, let's take a look at some of the early results:

Regular season victories(Team must play all regular season games for action. Bowl and conference championship games do not count.)

Louisiana State
-A true challenge of the over/under, basically a straight-up bet on LSU's "for real"-ness and "run-the-table"-osity. The added .5 makes this a head-scratcher.

Louisville, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas
-The "of course THEY'll be good, right?" group, teetering on the edge of awesomeness while threatening all with the masked shame of 9 wins. The only real purchase should be Louisville, as they tend to only play 2 real games anyway. The other three retain the right to break your heart.

California, Florida, Florida State, Penn State
-A much more clear-cut group. Cal and Florida are strong buys to get 10 wins while both Florida and Penn State still struggle to show they can win without playing the games on paper. On talent alone, the whole set is underpriced.

Auburn, Georgia, Nebraska, Ohio State, Tennessee, UCLA
-An extremely tricky group as each team has a little voice inside them that screams "8 and 4." Not every SEC team can have 10 wins, can they? UCLA is probably most likely to get 9 or more with Nebraska and Ohio State's schedules helping them bring up the rear.

Alabama, Iowa, Miami
-A set that can only be described as "you don't know any better." These teams sound like they could get 9 wins, but what do we really know? Dark horses all around. Optimism leans towards Alabama and pessimism away from Iowa and Miami.

Arkansas, Clemson, Texas Tech
-This entire set just gives me a bad feeling. Enticing, considering previous accomplishments and/or potentially explosive offensivity, but overall, I would simply just stay away then wait for a push.

Kansas State, Notre Dame, Texas A&M
-Notre Dame and A&M have the ability to get 8 wins, so this one's basically for Aggies and Irish fans. K-State just feels like a stretch.

Arizona, Georgia Tech, Oregon, South Carolina
-Two teams who will flirt with 7 wins and two teams who will get 7 wins on their heads. I'll let the readers pan it out.

-The fat man is worth 6 wins alone.

Trev Alberts is a former ESPN analyst. He enjoys a good tasty vole every now and again.

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