Summer is unofficially underway after what was, officially, a catastrophic spring. For the moment, let’s dispense with the heavy stuff, assume there will be a season, and have some fun.
Recently, the renowned bookmaker William Hill released its odds on winning each Power Five conference.
The Pac-12 breakdown is as follows:
Arizona State: 10/1
Washington State: 15/1
Oregon State: 75/1
Our reaction: The folks at William Hill apparently don’t place much emphasis on continuity — in particular, offensive continuity.
If they gave as much weight to the triad of returning quarterback-coordinator-head coach as we do, the Washington schools would have longer odds.
Best value I: California
The Bears have a new play-caller in Bill Musgrave, but they’re loaded with experience where it counts (quarterback, offensive line and defense) and were on track to contend last season until Chase Garbers was injured.
Also, they play Oregon, Washington and Stanford at home, providing a manageable path to the division.
From there, it’s one game to the title. At 18/1, they’re a bargain.
Best value II: Arizona State
We wouldn’t think twice about a few bucks on the Sun Devils at 10-to-1. They’re one of three teams in the South with a returning quarterback and should be fairly stout on defense.
If USC stumbles, ASU is best positioned to snatch the division and play for the payday.
Worst value I: Washington State
Sure, 15/1 is a decent payout, but only if there’s reason to believe the Cougars, with a new coach, coordinator and quarterback — and with no spring practice — can win the North for the first time.
We’re skeptical of Oregon and Washington at their numbers (2-to-1 and 3.5-to-1, respectively), but the returning talent on defense provides both with a path to the championship.
We don’t see enough on either side of the ball to justify a dollar on the Cougars.
Worst value II: Utah
The Utes were gutted on defense, have a new quarterback and, in our opinion, could experience a hangover from the 2019 collapse.
The likelihood of winning the division, much less the conference, is vastly more remote than 5-to-1 odds indicate.
That’s chucking good money after bad, even for fans with blind faith.
The Utes should be 10-to-1, at best.
No value: USC
The Trojans have 17 returning starters and perhaps the best quarterback in the conference (Kedon Slovis).
We project them as the solid but not overwhelming favorite in the South and would be tempted at 4-to-1, but not a dime less. Too many things can go wrong with the Good Ship Helton.