Last week, I went to Big Monday and hung out with Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla and the rest of the crew. Included in our lengthy conversation were some thoughts on things that did not make that final piece. For example, since Musburger also calls football games on ABC/ESPN including the BCS championship game, we talked about the new playoff structure that begins next year. We also talked about Brent’s gambling references, which brought out plenty of cogent thoughts on hypocrisy when it comes to gambling in this country, from sports to fantasy football to the lotteries. Musburger has spoken on some of these topics before, including saying he would rather gambling be legalized and taxed, but rather than insert a blurb or include it in the larger piece on Big Monday, I thought it would be fairer and more appropriate to separately provide the thoughts in full.
First, I asked him for his thoughts on the new college playoff system that begins next season.
“I think what they are going to find is that there’s as big a debate about #5 and #6, that they should be #4, as there was about #3 and #4, that they should be #2. I don’t think they’ve ended the debate, they’ve just pushed it down the chain, and maybe not in my lifetime, but someday, they’ll get to 8 or 16.”
Where does the debate end?
“16. 16 teams is the absolute end of the debate.”
I know you probably don’t monitor Twitter as much, but there’s plenty of the younger generation that enjoys, say, the references to, oh, who might be up by eight late in the game. Do you throw some of that in for fun, knowing that people get a kick out of it?
“Yeah, it’s, you know, I’m kind of amused by it. I’m certainly aware of it, because of enough people who monitor Twitter talk to me. So I’m aware.”
“You know, it’s not the biggest thing that’s going on tonight, but I’m well aware that Kansas is a double digit favorite, and I know how many points they’re expecting in this game, and I also know that the interest in sports, part of it is fueled by that. There are people out there, contrary to what the moguls might think — and it’s not, I try to tell people, I say listen, it’s not these guys you read about that are betting $50,000 on a game, that’s ridiculous, there’s a handful of guys that do that, and I say, most of them, most of them, are not successful, some are.”
“Most guys enjoy watching a game with a $20 bill bet on it, or a man to man bet of $10 with your buddy, and it enhances the game you are watching. It brings a different perspective to what you are taking a look at.”
“You know, the NFL loves to say, well, we can’t have that, we don’t want to do that. Then out of the other side of their mouth, they are telling me I should play fantasy.”
How do they reconcile that?
“I’m not sure you can justify that to me, that one’s any different than the other. I like fantasy too, I love fantasy, but I love also a little position on the Seattle Seahawks when they are an underdog to Denver in the Super Bowl.”
“So I–I think it’s harmless activity, and the people I know, anytime there is a fix or attempted fix, the ones who monitor it the most carefully are the bookmakers, simply because they stand to lose the most, that’s their business. And the last time I checked there’s a lottery on every street corner, which is a very penal tax against the poor in this country. And I–I do not object to people gambling on a sporting event, let me just put it that way, I don’t have any, any objection.”
“I think March Madness–when I was there, I brought the name March Madness from the Chicago high school tournament to CBS—and I think part of the great, great attraction of that tournament are the brackets that you fill out–”
“Everyone fills that sheet out. That’s why—they’ve got kind of a cockamamie thing, but you’ve got to stay the 64, so they’ve got the four play in games, but you notice, you still come down to the bracket that everyone wants to play.”
“People are interesting. They think they can read the future, they think they know more than the experts. The truth is they don’t. Those casinos don’t get any smaller and the oddsmakers are very smart, and they know what numbers [inaudible], so yeah, it’s of interest to me. Do I think it’s the most important, no.”