Saturday, March 31, 2007
This is something I’ve never seen before: a point-shaving scandal involving a major college football team.
It happens every so often in basketball (Wikipedia mentions a couple directly and talks around a few others – it’s actually a very disorganized section), but rarely, from what I can find and remember, on the gridiron. I suspect it has something to do with the large number of players on a team and the limited impact, positive or negative, that a single person can have on the outcome of a game.
Maybe Toledo Rockets backup running back Scooter McDougle Jr. likes a challenge, however, because he was charged in federal court Friday with “participating in a bribery scheme to influence sporting contests.” If convicted, he faces some serious jail time: up to five years in jail, plus a hefty $250,000 fine.
It will be interesting to see what happens with McDougle’s partner in this little project, a man known to his friends, family and the feds as “Gary”. While McDougle was the go-between, the link between unsavory characters and Toledo’s football and basketball teams, “Gary” appears to have been the mastermind and moneyman, at one point allegedly offering a football player $10,000 not to play in a game.
McDougle is pulling a Shoeless Joe Jackson with the proceedings, claiming that he knew about the scheme, accepted the car, phone and other gifts that came along with it, but “never changed the way he played to affect the outcome of games.” Normally, that would result in a big “Riiiiiiiiiight” from me, but Scooter just might be telling the truth here; he played in three games this season, carrying the ball eight times for 49 yards. Whether or not he missed the other nine games on Toledo’s schedule for legitimate reasons remains to be seen.
Toledo finished 2006 with a disappointing 5-7 record, including four straight losses after a 2-2 start. I had the bright idea to check the results against the point spread of each game to see if anything jumped out, but then remembered that I never have and never will understand how to read a point spread. If you’re interested in comparing, the link is below.
(Note: This might only interest me, but it’s five o’clock in the morning, I’m watching SportsCenter, and this is not the lead story. Apparently Kobe Bryant’s 53 points is more important than a potentially major college football scandal. It’s not the second story, either. Or the third. Basketball all the way to the first commercial...then college basketball...blah blah blah.)
Toledo player charged in point-shaving scheme (ESPN.com)
Toledo Rockets Team Page (Vegas Insider)