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Odds are, WVU below the radar

MORGANTOWN — There are, I suppose, advantages to low expectations.

But just how low the expectations are for West Virginia's football team this season are, well, rather shocking.

Just ask Las Vegas.

First, some perspective.

A year ago, heading into the Big 12 armed with Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and, yes, Dana Holgorsen, only a handful of teams in the country were afforded better odds than WVU at winning the national championship. On the surface they seemed rather long, of course, but at 45-to-1 only 15 schools were deemed to have a better chance.

Those odds, by the way, came by way of the web site bovada.lv, which I'm aware of not because of any particular penchant I have for gambling, but because apparently I'm on a mailing list that provides them regularly. Go figure.

Anyway, those odds from last year were the final ones prior to the start of the season. The only schools with better odds pretty much form the who's who of every season's Top 25, from Southern California (3-1) and Alabama (5-1) to Michigan and Notre Dame (each at 40-1). Florida (50-1) and Auburn (75-1) weren't as highly regarded, nor was Boise State (100-1).

Of the 45 schools that were even deemed worthy of a listing (most of the power conference members and a few BYUs and Boises), the Mountaineers were given a better chance of winning the title than 30. Truthfully, that wasn't much different than most of the years in the decade before.

Now, for the naked truth about 2013: Although the odds will be updated several times between now and the start of the season, heading into the summer West Virginia's odds of winning the national championship are ...

300-1.

Ouch.

More bad news: This year there are odds provided on 48 teams. Forty-four of them have better odds of winning it all. If you want to feel equal or superior to anyone you'll have to crow to Missouri (also 300-1) or Boston College and South Florida (each at 500-1).

Extrapolating those odds against WVU's schedule, though, the Mountaineers should still have a winning record. The reason is that only five schools on the WVU schedule are even listed with odds — Oklahoma State and Texas (each at 33-1), Oklahoma (50-1), TCU (66-1) and Kansas State (200-1). One would assume those schools that aren't listed have even longer odds, and that includes Baylor, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Maryland and Georgia State.

No word yet on William & Mary's odds in the FCS.

If you're looking for a ray of sunshine, I suppose that will have to do, at least until the games are played and all of this means anything.

Just so you're completely informed, of course, we should give you the basketball odds, too.

There's better news there, but not much.

Bob Huggins' team opens at 100-1 to win the national championship. It's not Kentucky (5-1), but it's not Boston College (500-1), either. Wow, they could be in for a long year at The Heights.

At 100-1, the Mountaineers are in a group behind 41 with longer odds and ahead of 26 others (there are 16 teams at 100-1). Again, on the up side, only three Big 12 schools are listed with better odds (Kansas 11-2, Baylor 50-1 and Oklahoma State 50-1), with three (Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas) also at 100-1 and Oklahoma at 200-1. TCU and Texas Tech are off the board.

And finally, it would be difficult from almost anyone's perspective to say that Adam Jones has been dealt a bum rap.

Really, now, the cornerback formerly known as Pacman introduced himself to college life by whacking a guy with a pool cue in Morgantown before he'd ever played a down for West Virginia.

By the time he reached the NFL in 2005 his reputation so preceded him that the Tennessee Titans, who had drafted him sixth overall, pushed for a clause in his rookie contract stipulating that he would be paid no bonus money if he was convicted of a crime. In his first two years with the Titans he was arrested or cited at least three times.

He would be involved in one way or another in other investigations at least 10 times in his first four years. The most serious, of course, was the 2007 shooting at a strip club in Las Vegas, allegedly by someone in his entourage, that left a bouncer paralyzed. That got him suspended for the entire 2008 season and a multi-million dollar judgment against him.

And that's just the Reader's Digest version. Whew.

But now, after seemingly putting himself on the straight and narrow, Jones finds himself in trouble again. Over the weekend, he was arrested in Cincinnati — where he now plays for the Bengals — for punching a woman outside a bar. And he doesn't deny it.

Here's where the bad rap might come in, though. Jones tweeted Monday that he "Just got arrested for protecting myself. I will not let this break me or change what I've worked so hard for.'' Jones and his lawyer say two women, both drunk, asked him to pose for a picture with them. When he declined one of them threw a beer bottle at his head. He slapped her.

OK, so maybe it's the same ol' Pacman. But the truth is, since 2010 Jones has really been involved in only one incident, for which he was convicted only of disorderly conduct. Otherwise he's been a model citizen.

If his account is true and he was just reacting to someone throwing a beer bottle at his head, he's being punished for being Pacman Jones. Lord knows he brought that reputation upon himself, but it seems now he's just being penalized for being who he is and not for what he has done.

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1


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