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An NFL Preseason Quirk, A Football Future Play, NCAA Foolishness, and some Alcohol & Drugs, too.
By Kevin O’Neill

Nice gesture by Georgia Bulldog fans, raising money to pay for a Boise State player’s father, who is serving in Iraq, to come to Athens to watch his son play in the Boise State/Georgia season opener. Unfortunately, the NCAA stepped in and nixed the arrangement. Tough to see how SEC fans raising money to help a soldier dad of a WAC player does anything to benefit Boise State’s program, recruiting, etc., but it was seen as an improper benefit, so on a soldier’s salary the BSU dad will have to shell out the $2500+ for the trip home.
In any line of work you need to know your audience. West Virginia football coach Rich Rodriguez clearly does. When asked about whether his team’s fans would offer support in their road opener up in Syracuse he answered, "If you can get them a tank of gas and a six pack, they'll get there." Anyone who has ever been to a game in Morgantown knows that Rodriguez is in tune with his boozy constituency.
I received a horse tip the other day from an owner source. Now obviously, any owner is going to think his horse can run, and the guy who gave it to me knew it was dubious. I sent it to a friend of mine and termed it a “low quality horse tip.” His sage response:
“In the horse bettor's mind there is no such thing as a low-quality horse tip. once we see the words "horse" and "tip" we don't notice the other words in the sentence.”  
We spoke last week about the NFL preseason and how the line moves occur quickly. Those who got an early handle on the Hall of Fame game and took Chicago from a 1-½ point dog to a 3-point favorite made out like bandits. Both position holders and middlers scored when the Bears edged the Dolphins 27-24. But the number 3 is not nearly as important in the preseason as it is in the regular season.
Many NFL coaches will, down 7 in the 4th quarter, go for two if they score a TD. By not kicking for the tie it virtually eliminates the chance that the game will land on 3. They do this for a couple of reasons. First, preseason is the time for experimentation, and you don’t get a lot of opportunities to run two-point plays. You might even want to just run a trick play you’d never consider in a real game, as that gives your regular season opponents one more thing to prepare for. Secondly, the coaches may be happy that they’ve gotten 60 minutes of play in and they just want to get the hell out of there without anyone getting hurt.
With the difference in strategy, the number 3 is less important when wagering on the NFL preseason, as it is less likely to land on that margin. Just something to keep in mind.
It should be a great week for Nick Zito, inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs on Monday. But Zito is raising a lot of eyebrows. His three year old Noble Causeway, who took a lot of wise guy money in the Triple Crown chase, was scratched at the gate after being well bet in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy a couple of weeks back. Zito reportedly wasn’t pleased with jockey Jerry Bailey for making the decision, but Bailey’s a pro and said that the horse wasn’t warming up well.
Unable to find anything wrong, Zito ran back Noble Causeway in an allowance race last Saturday (without Bailey on board), and the horse had to be pulled up when he couldn’t develop reasonable running action. On Monday, Hall of Fame induction day, another Zito horse was scratched at the gate when a jockey didn’t like the way the horse was warming up.
I wonder what is going on with Zito’s horses? Tough to tell, but it is DaRn sUre some GuyS are suspecting some foul play gone bad in the Zito barn.
Here’s a college football futures bet for your consideration. Take a gander the Miami Hurricanes to win the ACC at 5-2 or better. In the four NFL drafts previous to this past one the Hurricanes had a staggering 35 players drafted, including 19 in the first round. That loss of talent finally caught up to the Canes last year, as they failed to garner a BCS bowl berth. It is worth noting, however, that Miami had a home game to win the ACC in their first year in the first year in the conference, though they fell to Virginia Tech in the battle of former Big East schools in a game where the Hokies held the Canes to an astonishing 190 yards of total offense.
The draft losses were less this season, with five players picked by NFL teams, with Antrell Rolle being the only first rounder (and the only defender) selected. The Hurricanes return 14 starters this season, including 9 on defense. A primary problem of the Hurricanes last season was their running game, which averaged an anemic 3.8 yards per rush (dropping from 4.6 in 2003, 5.2 in 2002, and 5.3 in 2001). You need offensive production on the ground to open things up for the enormous skill position talent that Miami has.
Young Californian Kyle Wright enters the season as the new quarterback, a position where the Hurricanes have been inconsistent recently. The schedule is not kind. Labor Day Night the Hurricanes travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State in the season opener. The also must visit Virginia Tech. The Hokies are a divisional rival with a big void at QB where Marcus Vick (Don Mexico?) must show he can stay out of trouble with the law and make smart decisions on the field as well. We think Miami finds a way to beat the Hokies on the strength of their defense, which is absolutely loaded with talent. This should propel them into the title game.
A case can be made that the Hurricanes rugged schedule coincides with a slight decline in talent. But it is impossible to ignore the 44-6 four-year record under Larry Coker. Concern over the schedule is mitigated by the fact that the Hurricanes have won all five times they’ve suited up as an underdog under Coker. This Hurricanes team is more experienced than last year’s club and there are highly recruited players on both sides of the ball who in recent years have quietly been practicing against current NFL players on both sides of the ball and are ready to emerge on their own. We’ll look for these Hurricanes to play well in big games and win the division title and the conference championship game.
Better than 5-2 is available at some outlets for the Canes to win their division. If you don't mind tying up your money for four months 5-2 or better is a good play on Miami to win the ACC.
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Have a great weekend. Good luck and be careful.

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