Is Backing Arizona Football The Worst Bet In All Sports?
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It’s been a rough decade for Arizona football fans. The Wildcats have had more head coaches than bowl victories since 2010 and have made just one Pac-12 title game appearance, a 51-13 loss to Oregon in 2014.
There have been some good times, no doubt. Arizona started 5-0 and upset No. 2 Oregon to start that 2014 season, reaching as high as No. 8 in the AP Poll. The Wildcats posted four consecutive winning seasons under coach Rich Rodriguez from 2012-2015 and flirted with serious contender status at times.
None of that comes close to making up for its most glaring, consistent weakness. Arizona has failed to cover at the sportsbooks in both good times and bad. With Arizona sports betting set to launch soon, bettors in the Copper State take note.
The Wildcats are an abysmal 50-79-2 against the spread since 2010, with the second lowest cover rate of all Div. 1 teams throughout that stretch at 38.8%. Only Connecticut (37.1%) has proved more futile at the betting window.
And it gets worse.
Only one of the 350-plus Div. 1 college hoops teams has been that bad against the spread since 2010, with Central Connecticut checking in at 38.3%.
Considering all NBA and NFL teams have covered at least 41.9% of games since 2010, and the fact that UConn football hasn’t had any expectations with nine consecutive losing seasons, there’s a legitimate case to be made for Arizona football as the worst bet in all of sports over the past decade.
What's Gone Wrong For Arizona?
It’s been a perfect exercise in overpromising and underdelivering, a cardinal sin in sports betting. The Wildcats fired Rodriguez after he went 43-34 in six seasons, striving for even brighter days after hiring former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin.
College football’s ladder of success is as slippery as it gets. Arizona lost its grip on the ascent and fell fast and hard under Sumlin, landing face down with a 70-7 loss to rival Arizona State in the 2020 season finale.
The biggest reason for Arizona’s futility on the field and at sportsbooks is obvious. They have failed to recruit and develop talent on par with the rest of the conference. The Wildcats haven’t pulled a top-five recruiting class in the Pac-12 at any point in the past decade. They haven’t even cracked the top 10 in five years.
While other programs have found a way to develop diamonds in the rough and told recruiting analysts to shove it, the Wildcats haven’t produced a first-round NFL draft pick since 2007. They haven’t had a player taken before the fourth round since quarterback Nick Foles went to the Eagles as a third-round pick in 2012.
Therein lies a glimmer of hope for a Wildcats program riding a 12-game losing streak. First-year coach Jedd Fisch and staff are clearly doing something right on the recruiting trail ahead of the season opener on Sep. 4 against BYU.
The Wildcats’ 2022 recruiting class is currently ranked fourth in the Pac-12, and includes a commitment from four-star tight end Keyan Burnett, who flipped from USC in early August.
About that BYU game – a look at the college football odds shows the Wildcats opened as 10-point underdogs, and the line has since moved to Arizona +11.5. Recent history suggests it’s not a wise bet to make on your sports betting app.
But with no expectations and a new coach at the helm, we will see if the Wildcats can eventually move into “underrated” territory and finally create some value for fans of college football betting in the process.