College Kids and Media Hype


by Kelso Sturgeon
Contributing Sportsbook Editor


This past weekend saw many examples of college athletes falling prey to media hype. Teams who suddenly had the "it" factor according to ESPN and all the national publications quickly found out they DIDN'T have "it" after all.

Some quick examples...

  • USC was humbled and humiliated as a big favorite on the road against Boston College. A prior win over Stanford had vaulted the Trojans into national championship talk...where they very clearly didn't belong. You could see by the second quarter that all the hype had gone to the players' heads. They weren't prepared at all for the running game of the fired up BC Eagles.

  • Georgia was getting the same kind of media talk down in the SEC because they'd played one good game and had a bye week. Their running back is truly a GAMEBREAKER. But, it takes more than one to win on the road in tough SEC battles. You probably watched the Bulldogs lose to South Carolina.

  • Florida was getting hyped as well, seemingly because the media is desperate to include that program as a championship force. The Gators had lost a game to weather before crushing a glorified high school game in a scrimmage. Players fell in love with their pictures in the newspaper and weren't prepared at all for a game Kentucky team. Florida was lucky to survive that overtime game with a win.

  • Notre Dame had opened with nice wins over Rice and Michigan. If you're Notre Dame, that's enough to be a part of national championship discussions because the media makes so much money from hyping Notre Dame! The Irish were flat as a pancake in the first half against lowly Purdue, leading only 17-14 at the break. They did ultimately win 30-14, as about 30-point favorites! Central Michigan beat Purdue worse than Notre Dame did...and they did that on Purdue's home field.

  • Louisville had supposedly shaken off the coaching and quarterback changes to become an immediate threat in the ACC. The media determined that by half-watching a Monday Night win over Miami of Florida on Labor Day and overreacting to a 66-point scoring effort against lowly Murray State. "Louisville is averaging 50 points a game without Teddy Bridgewater!" Give me a break. Louisville lost to Virginia with 2.9 yards-per-carry and 4 turnovers.

  • The Arizona Schools: We were hearing more of this locally than you may have been where you live. But, West Coast media influences the Las Vegas line! Both Arizona State and Arizona had put up some impressive offensive numbers. Both were supposed to have it easy as double digit Saturday Night favorites against outmanned opponents. The public sure loaded up on both teams. Neither was able to cover their spreads. Arizona State allowed more than 500 total yards to Colorado, while Arizona had to sweat out a 35-28 decision over Nevada.

    It's true in all sports...but it's particularly true in college football and college basketball because that age group has no experience with such intense media hype. It's one thing to be the talk of the town on your local high school team. It's quite another when ESPN, CBS, or USA Today is running profiles on you. A new generation has to re-learn the lesson every season, because that new generation is too cocky to listen to advice from anyone who's been through it.

    Students here in my College of Advances Sports Betting and Handicapping should spend a lot of time monitoring media coverage this week and beyond so you can isolate the new "it" teams just before they get exposed. I'm not going to name any specifics because I'll likely be exploiting this angle within my own selection set this weekend. Seriously...the hype has just begun! Wait until some new faces jump out to 5-0 or 6-0 starts before running into fired up underdog opponents.

    You regulars know that THE MOTIVATION FACTOR is a big part of my handicapping. When college kids enjoy the attention and fruits of media hype, they lose their motivation. It's that simple. There are about two dozen Southern Cal Trojans right now who are wondering where everybody went. (Don't forget that this will revitalize USC's motivation factor, making them a smart bet in the very near future!)


  • HURLEY: Clouds Darken over Big 10
  • SPORTS REPORTER: Weekly Selections
  • FEIST: NFL Totals sailing under
  • STURGEON: College Kids and Media Hype