Iowa Football

If there's sports betting, there's going to be a college football availability report

Transparency, education will be key, but can college football do that?

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh addresses the media during the Big Ten football media day Monday at Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh addresses the media during the Big Ten football media day Monday at Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO — If sports gambling is going to be a thing, college football “availability” reports will follow.

The idea was presented Monday to the seven coaches who spoke at the first day of Big Ten media days. No one objected. As close as anyone came to that was the verbiage on what to call the report.

Football coaches don’t like the word “injury,” so it’s probably going to be an availability report.

“Whether that comes out of an injury or whether it comes out of eligibility or comes out of some transgression of one kind or another, I think we need to do that,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.

And Delany followed that with ...

“I think we need to do that nationally,” he said. “And I think the reason we need to do that is probably with the exception of the home field, the availability of personnel is critical to people who are interested in gambling legally or illegally. And therefore, when players are unavailable, we should know that, if they’re probably or likely, I don’t have the model code, but I do think it’s something that we should do and probably should have done it before, but certainly should do it now.”

The Big Ten commissioner believes college football should’ve been into availability reports for a long time now.

That sure seems elementary, but football coaches totally did their secrets.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald made a lot fun of himself. Northwestern has long put out availability reports.

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“I’ve been accused of sometimes being honest and sometimes being less than honest,” Fitzgerald said. “I would agree with that.”

Fitzgerald stressed the need for transparency.

“But if we move forward to where we have to have a fully transparent conference-wide or national one, I’d have no problem with that, as long as we adhere to it,” Fitzgerald said. “There needs to be accountability. If there’s not accountability to it, then I’ll do whatever I have to do to protect our players, first and foremost, and protect our program second, in full disclosure of transparency.”

No one knows for sure how this would work, but everyone knows college football coaches don’t like a lot of light shining in during certain times and sometimes all of the time.

“Very dear friend, (gentleman’s name) who passed away, but great businessman,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “He owned muffler shops. He would talk about — Jim, what do you think about this investment here? He goes, I wouldn’t walk away from that investment, I’d run.

“That’s always stuck with me. That’s the same advice I would give players as it relates to gambling and any form or fashion.”

And later, Harbaugh added, “Want to do an injury report, we can do an injury report.”

It should be noted here or somewhere that Harbaugh typically refuses to release a two-deep depth chart during game week.

So, there’s work to do.

As far as handling sports books, Delany is holding out hope that college sports fall under some sort of protection. Beyond that, he said you have to educate and trust the players and everyone involved.

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“I think that we would prefer a federal framework that either omits college sports from gambling at the state level, Delany said. “And if that’s not possible, that there be some standardization of a framework so that college sports, high school sports, Olympic sports, those categories of sports receive some additional protection.”

Lots of people are thinking about college sports and gambling. Until it’s here, no one is going to quite know what to do with it.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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