Finding value in college football futures market

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

June 5th, 2019

College football is the most exciting sport in the world. But as the elites of the sport–namely Alabama and Clemson—continue to distance themselves from the others, fans and bettors are finding themselves pushed to the outer fringes when it comes to the futures market.

Futures Value Recognition

As we look for value in this always-intriguing, yet incredibly top-heavy market, we first must recognize that the proliferation of recruiting sites, attention to high school film, and increased top-level camps are making it easier for the big-time programs to identify and hand-pluck elite talent. Diamonds in the rough are becoming less of a thing, and entire rosters of such diamonds are nonexistent.

College Football Program History and Trends

With this in mind, I would be shocked if anybody besides a top-three program wins the national championship. Alabama (+225), Clemson (+250), and Georgia (+800) have out-recruited the rest of the country at a remarkable rate. While programs like Ohio State, Michigan, and Oklahoma are close enough to maintain competitiveness, there are three Evil Empires confined to one region of the country, and they have distanced themselves to such an extent that any other choices feel like true long shots.

Alabama and Clemson come into the season with the best two quarterbacks, the best overall rosters, elite coaches, and experience on the big stage. It’s very feasible that one could falter, but it's highly unlikely that both do. Clemson should have the easier road, however, so I would lean toward them if I had to make a pick between the two. Georgia is a more intriguing prospect at +800 than Alabama, as the Bulldogs have proven in consecutive years to be remarkably close to pushing through to the Promised Land.

Where to Look for Futures Value

All that said, if you are looking for a price, I would turn my eyes west to the land of failed title dreams and disappointment. I’m talking the Pac-12 and the Washington Huskies (+3300).

Washington has an elite coach, a new QB who could be elite but is relatively unknown nationally, and a conference schedule that could allow them to outscore their way into the playoff.  In a sport where coaching and quarterback play make a greater impact than they are given credit for, Washington arguably has the best in conference in both categories. Don’t be surprised if the playoff is full of chalk again this year, but if you want an underdog, these Huskies can hunt.

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