"Not Gonna Fool Me Nellie," as he likes to call himself, has the most elaborate twitch I've ever seen, and the simplest approach to sports betting.
First, the twitch: He looks left, then straight ahead, then right, then behind. He repeats this constantly throughout the day, so he seldom looks at you when he's talking. All day. Never stops.
His wagering system: If it looks too good to be true, that means it's too good to be true. Stay away. If all the factors point to one team, go the other way, insists "Not Gonna Fool Me Nellie." He plays what are known as reverse locks and he plays nothing else. He insists it works, and so far I have resisted the temptation to ask him why he never spends any of his winnings on updating his 50-year-old wardrobe, why he drives a jalopy and why he every day makes the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner: mac and cheese out of the box.
A look at a few Saturday games with point spreads from Vegasinsider.com as of Friday night:
1 - (Best bet) Utah State -15 at Wyoming: If you’re in the camp that adheres to never betting against streaks, well, there’s a beauty on the board for you this week. Utah State is having a season that has restored Matt Wells’ status as a hot, young coach. It had been fading, thanks to a three-season run of 15-23, after he went 19-9 in his first two seasons.
When that sort of dip happens, the mind naturally goes to, “He can win with somebody else’s recruits, but he can’t recruit.”
The seventh-year coach is winning and winning big with his own recruits this season.
The Aggies rank second in the nation with 51.7 points per game and 48th with 23.8 points allowed.
A native of Sallisaw, Okla., Wells employs his brother Luke as an assistant coach in charge of tight ends and inside receivers.
The Aggies’ lone loss this season came in the opener to Michigan State, and they are unbeaten vs. the spread, often winning on that front by a landslide.
Michigan State was favored by 29 points and won by seven. The Aggies were favored by 21.5 vs. New Mexico State and won 60-13.
The Aggies were 47-point favorites vs. Tennessee Tech and hammered the Golden Eagles, 73-12. Utah State traveled to Provo for a Pick’Em game and blasted the Cougars, 45-20.
Meanwhile, Wyoming’s offense is gasping for air in Laramie and it can’t be the altitude. The Cowboys must be used to that by now. They have gone six consecutive games without scoring as many as 20 points, which is why they’ve lost six in a row against the spread.
This one’s sitting right there for the plucking.
Predicted score: Utah State 38, Wyoming 17. Pick vs. spread: Utah State.
2 — North Texas +1.5 at UAB: Losing star running back Loren Easly to a season-ending knee injury after five games was a big hit for UNT, but DeAndre Torrey has softened the blow. He ran for 95 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 30-7 slaughter of Southern Miss, which was a 7-point underdog.
UAB is 5-1 overall, 5-1 vs. the spread and has won its past three games by a combined score of 98-14. The Blazers were underdogs at Louisiana Tech and won the game, 28-7. This matchup pits two hot Power Five coaching prospects, UNT’s Seth Littrell, 40, and UAB’s Bill Clark, 50.
Predicted score: North Texas 28, UAB 24.
Pick vs. spread: North Texas.
3 — Oklahoma -8 at TCU: Oklahoma is coming off a loss to Texas and has had two weeks to prepare for the Horned Frogs. Those are not the circumstances under which you want to play the Sooners, even if you did last play on a Thursday and suffered an upset loss yourself. Predicted score: Oklahoma 35, TCU 24.
Pick vs. spread: Oklahoma.
Overall record: 4-8.
Best-bet record: 1-3.
It’s been so long since Kansas has led the nation in a positive football statistic I find myself visiting cfbstats.com to click turnover margin on an almost daily basis. Never know when it might happen again, so why not? You should try it. It's good therapy.
Remarkably, the Jayhawks still lead the nation in that category with a weekly average of +2.17. They have 18 turnovers gained and five lost, six weeks into the season.
Head coach David Beaty’s first three teams finished 105th of 128, 123rd of 128 and 128th of 130.
Beaty's first game as offensive coordinator since 2016 is Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.
As always, Beaty is stressing “being a smarter team. We’re right around the middle of the pack in the Big 12 right now, and we need to be in the top three, if not better than that.” In conference play, KU has five takeaways and four turnovers.
When Beaty was at the helm of the Kansas offense in 2016, the Jayhawks led the nation with 36 turnovers. KU runs the ball far more now than then, so reducing that number significantly shouldn't be a problem.
The defense is doing its part in the turnover department.
KU had four interceptions all last season and has 11 so far this season, tied for fifth in the nation. Hasan Defense has two picks, both against West Virginia, and 10 players have one apiece: Joe Dineen, Davon Ferguson, Corione Harris, Elmore Hempstead, Mike Lee, Jeremiah McCullough, Shakial Taylor, Ricky Thomas and Bryce Torneden.
If I were an agent for assistant college football coaches I would insist that they all are paid moving expenses with a set amount of cash and then can make arrangements on their own.
And then I would insist that each one of them buy a truck big enough to pack all of their belongings. They would pay off the truck by their third or fourth move and make money off of the next 10 moves.
Texas Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs is just one of many whose background illustrates the itinerant nature of life as an assistant football coach.
A senior defensive back on Colorado’s team that won the national title under Bill McCartney in 1990, Gibbs is in his fourth season at Texas Tech, which struggled on that side of the ball until improving vastly this season.
Consider Gibbs’ many moves.
He was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma (1991-92) and at Colorado (1993-94). His first full-duties coaching job came at Kansas (1995-96), where he was defensive backs coach under Glen Mason. Gibbs would tell you going to Kansas was the best move of his life because it was there that he met his wife, Debbie, a Lawrence High graduate. The couple has two children.
Gibbs went with Mason to Minnesota (1997-2000), where he was the youngest defensive coordinator in the nation at the age of 29 in 1997.
He coached defensive backs for the Denver Broncos (2001-04) and was defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2005.
Next, Gibbs coached defensive backs for the Kansas City Chiefs (2006-08) and then the Houston Texans (2009-10). In 2012, Gibbs coached defensive backs for the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL. He then returned to the college game as defensive coordinator for Houston (2013-14), where his Cougars defense led the nation in turnovers gained with 43 in 2013 and tied for 11th with 30 in 2014.
As Houston’s interim head coach for the Armed Forces Bowl played Jan. 2, 2015, Gibbs coached his team to a 35-34 victory over Pittsburgh with the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in bowl history.
Houston fell behind 34-13 with 4:21 left on a 29-yard field goal from Chris Blewitt (how about that name for a team that blew a 21-point lead so late in the game).
The Cougars scored 22 points in a span of 90 seconds of game clock. Gibbs wasn’t able to spin that into a head coaching job, but here’s guessing his name will surface regularly in postseason job searches.
One of the many enjoyable aspects of covering Hall of Fame Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, the greatest motivator in the history of baseball, centered on witnessing him lose his cool in his office.
Most of the time, anyway. I could have done without the flying chicken spittle, but hey, chalk that up to an occupational hazard of a very interesting occupation. Beat writers enjoyed Tommy's blowups so much that sometimes we, I mean they, tried to goad him into them.
Sometimes it worked. Other times he saw through the attempt and laughed.
I'll never forget the time Barry Bloom, a really smart man blessed with a terrific sense of humor, covered the Padres and could bait the manager with the best of them. Lasorda's day started with reading the newspaper and seeing all the play his restaurant had been cited for multiple health-code violations. His day ended with a tough loss to the Padres.
"What hurts worse, Tommy," Barry asked, "knowing you have rats in your restaurant or losing to the Padres?"
Much to our disappointment, Lasorda couldn't stop laughing at Bloom's question and finally got around to answering it: "Oh, no question, losing to the Padres."
Better at managing baseball than restaurants, Lasorda also could have gone either way with his answer to another question I witnessed him being asked: "Tommy, you are the all-time leader in wins for International League pitchers. Is that an indication of how good a pitcher you were or how bad?"
He laughed and reeled off the names of great Brooklyn Dodgers pitchers who blocked his path to the major leagues. Lasorda appeared in eight games with the Dodgers in 1954-55 and seven with the 1956 Kansas City A's. He retired with 0-4 record and 6.48 ERA. He won 1,599 games as a manager.
I recall one question that elicited the opposite response of a laugh from Lasorda. A little background: TV announcers loved it when Lasorda took over third-base coaching duties to break a losing streak and it usually worked, to the delight of the broadcasters who loved the peppy, colorful way he coached third base.
The question: "It seems every time you decide to coach third base to break losing streak the game is on national TV and the opposing starting pitcher is either a struggling rookie or an over-the-hill guy hanging on by a thread. Is that just a coincidence?"
Run for cover. More than chicken spittle flew that day. A stream of words that made those used by the father fixing the furnace in a "A Christmas Story" seem fit for church by comparison, bounced off the walls of his office.
So what does this have to do with Kansas football? Good question. Think David Beaty's decision to fire offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and appoint himself as the OC/quarterbacks coach. Is it just a coincidence that it happens to come when Kansas faces Texas Tech, a traditionally horrible defensive team? Well, yes, because the Red Raiders no longer fit that description.
In three Big 12 games, Tech has allowed just 24.3 points per game, fourth-best in the Big 12 and has allowed 428.7 yards per Big 12 game, sixth in the conference without the benefit of having played Kansas yet.
So Beaty didn't time this move to make himself look good.
Freshman guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson, an athletic duo of McDonald’s All-Americans, are known as better scorers than pure shooters, so they might not put up great 3-point shooting numbers this season.
That doesn’t mean they won’t leave Kansas as better shooters, depending on how long they decide to stay. (Guards who project as points in the NBA generally don’t enter as quickly as big men).
“I would rather recruit a shooter than a scorer, to be honest with you,” Kansas Bill Self said last week at media day. “You can kind of teach a shooter how to score, but sometimes it's hard to teach a scorer how to shoot. I do think that my assistants do a great job with our guys in that area, as far as shooting the ball.”
Kurtis Townsend works on the technical aspects of shooting with players, getting them to stop drifting and to tuck their shooting elbows, etc.
And the way Self coaches nurtures the confidence of shooters. He talks them up and is more likely to pull them for a defensive lapse or for not keeping the ball moving, letting it “stick” as the coach likes to say, than for missing an open shot.
“I do feel like that when they play here, they have confidence to make shots because, in large part, that's not something that we emphasize,” Self said. “I firmly believe it's a good or a bad shot when it leaves your hand, not when it goes in or not. If you have that mindset, you should always be somewhat confident. We know you have to make shots to win games; certainly, to win big games, but I don't want those guys to have the pressure that you have to shoot well to play well."
Shooting percentages on 3-pointers tend to improve throughout players’ careers because they come to understand what a good shot is and because they grow stronger and because their technique is monitored by the coaching staff.
Frank Mason shot .327 from 3 as a freshman, .471 as a senior. Wayne Selden was a .328 3-point shooter as a freshman, a .392 shooter as a senior. Travis Releford’s 3-point percentage improved from .325 as a junior to .415 in his senior season.
By Self preaching sharing the ball, keeping the ball moving rapidly and making the extra pass, the coach gets the intended result: a high percentage of high-percentage shots. The purpose of moving the ball rapidly is to reach the point where the shifting defense can’t keep up and Self wants the one with the ball in his hands when the defense has failed to keep up to be the one to take the shot.
In Self’s mind, if it’s an open shot from a player who is where he is supposed to be, then it’s a good shot. If it misses, it’s still a good shot that should have been taken. It’s definitely a system that nurtures a shooter’s confidence, an underrated aspect of Self’s coaching success. Self justifiably receives a lot of credit for getting his players to play unselfishly, exert a ton of effort defensively and play with a great deal of toughness.
The 16th-year coach probably doesn’t get enough kudos for creating a good environment for growing a shooter’s confidence.
Everybody has a system for betting sports. Break Even Benny told me about his surefire method to do no worse than break even.
“If you lose the first bet, just double the wager on the next,” he said. “And if you lose again, just double the amount you lost and keep doubling until you win and you’re guaranteed to break even.”
OK, but it only works if you have enough money set aside to cover a real long losing streak. For example, after going 0-3 for the second week in a row, my losing streak stands at six.
So here’s how I would have done starting with a $110 bet to make $100 on the first game.
Game 1: Lost $110.
Game 2: Lost $121 (Total losses: $231).
Game 3: Lost $254.10 (Total losses: $485.10).
Game 4: Lost $533.61 (Total losses: $1,018.71).
Game 5: Lost $1,120.58 (Total losses: $2,139.29).
Game 6: Lost $2,139.29 (Total losses: $4,278.58).
So in order to break now, I would need to wager $4,706.44 one my first game and win. If only I had $4,706.44 I might just do that because my streak is bound to end. Just in case it doesn’t, you might want to go opposite.
1 - (Best bet) Central Florida -4.5 at Memphis: UCF is 5-0, ranked No. 10 in the nation and is 4-1 vs. the spread, the only loss coming a 38-0 victory vs. South Carolina State, a 52-point underdog.
Memphis’ Heisman Trophy candidate Darrell Henderson bounced back with a 174-yard, three-touchdown game vs. UConn last week. He averaged 12.4 yards per carry.
Still, Central Florida, which averages 574.4 yards in offense per game, didn’t lose last year and hasn’t lost this year. The Knights aren’t going to leave anything to chance.
Predicted score: Central Florida 42, Memphis 31.
Pick vs. spread: Central Florida.
2 - Nebraska +3.5 at Northwestern: The Huskers opened as 8.5-point underdogs and the line quickly dropped five points and has stayed there. Northwestern has three key starters out with injury. The Huskers put up big numbers offensively most weeks but don’t have the athletes they will after a couple of years of Scott Frost recruiting. At some point, the Frost effect will kick in even before the athletes arrive. Why not this week?
Predicted score: Nebraska 31, Northwestern 28.
Pick vs. spread: Nebraska.
3 - West Virginia -6.5 at Iowa State: Braxton Lewis, a redshirt junior safety from Overland Park, was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, another good Kansan who got away. He led the team in tackles in a 48-42 victory over Oklahoma State and had one of the Cyclones’ 16 tackles for loss, a school record.
Predicted score: West Virginia 28, Iowa State 24.
Pick vs. spread: Iowa State.
Overall record vs. spread: 2-7.
Best bet record: 1-2.
Fourth-year Kansas football coach David Beaty said last week he doesn't anticipate using the new rule that enables players to redshirt as long as they don't play in more than four games, but two juniors on the roster who might be attractive to other FBS schools still could do so.
Receiver Evan Fairs played in the first four games of the season and did not participate in the two most recent ones. Cornerback Kyle Mayberry has played in just one game.
Beaty does not always share if a player is injured and sometimes tries to pretend that an injured player is available, which is what he did with Carter Stanley at the beginning of the 2017 season. Other times, he does share that a player is injured.
Beaty doesn't do his weekly Tuesday press conference during bye week, so we'll have to wait until next week to ask if Fairs and Mayberry have missed games with injury. If Beaty says they have not, it's possible that both players decided to redshirt with the intention of transferring elsewhere.
If that's the case and there is a coaching change at the end of the season, the new coach could take a crack at trying to convince the players to stay.
Five days before Oklahoma State defeated Kansas, 48-28, at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Gundy announced that receiver Jalen McCleskey was using the new rule to redshirt and transfer after he had played in four games this season for the Cowboys. The next day, I asked Beaty if he had had any players inform him of their intentions to do the same. He said that at that point none of his players had done so.
It will be interesting to hear next week whether that has changed.
Marty "Duck" Pattin's life will be celebrated Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Naismith Room on the second floor of Allen Fieldhouse.
Pattin, a 114-game winner in 13 seasons spent as a starting pitcher and reliever, the final seven seasons with the Royals. His last pitch was thrown in the 1980 World Series. His coaching career at the University of Kansas wasn't nearly as successful as his pitching career, but that didn't dent his local popularity a bit. In six seasons (1982-87), Pattin's teams posted a .416 winning percentage.
Before, during and after his time as KU baseball coach, I wonder how many people went home and told a loved one, "I met a former big-leauge pitcher today and he was the friendliest man." Probably as many as the number of people who met him during his years in Lawrence. He never blew off anybody who asked him to do his Donald Duck impression and liked his nickname so much that for years his telephone answering machine message said, "Hello, this is your friendly mallard, 'The Duck.' "
Not that he didn't get cranky once in a while. If you happened to be watching a Royals game with him and the pitcher let the pitcher crowd the plate, look out.
"Why do they let the hitters do that?" Marty fumed. "All you have to do is put one right here (darts his hand below his chin.) If he doesn't get the message send another one right in there. He'll back off."
And then there was the time we were watching a game at a restaurant and the Royals pitcher who had a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning led the walkoff man.
"Throw it right down the middle and the worst that can happen is he hits it over the fence and you're still up two runs," Marty groused. "Instead, he walks him and all just watch, all hell's about to break loose."
Less than a minute later he would laughing again, telling another story from his days with the Royals or the 1969 Seattle Pilots.
If you never heard Pattin tell the story of the time he rained on third baseman George Brett's great play by inexplicably cutting off the Hall of Famer's laser of a throw across the diamond and if you never heard Marty's Donald Duck impersonation, click this video and you'll get two for the price of one:
The switch from primarily using a three-man front to a four-man front for Saturday's game in Morgantown resulted in a far better pass rush. The appreciative secondary responded with three interceptions in the red zone of West Virginia quarterback Will Grier, who had not thrown a red-zone pick in his career heading into the game.
Daniel Wise stood out up front and Hasan Defense in the back, but according to defensive tackle J.J. Holmes, Wise didn't carry out his assignments any better than any other week. Holmes said it's just that what he was asked to do led to more visible contributions. Wise has faced constant double-teams this season with KU in a three-man front, but it's harder for offensive lines to do that against four-man fronts. Wise brought phenomenal energy fighting off his blocker to disrupt plays in the backfield.
"Daniel's always on fire," Holmes said. "The whole D-line's on fire."
The D-line produced its best statistics of the season, but did it have its best performance?
"No," Holmes said. "I think this is one of our better ones, but some games it's just not built in our game plan to sack a lot like it was today. We build in for different things. Sometimes it's not to rush the passer. Sometimes it's just to keep him in the pocket and make him throw passes that we don't think he can make. I feel like I've seen us play better."
Said Beaty of Wise: "I think he played very relentlessly throughout the day. He had a look in his eye coming into this game. We challenged him and that defensive line to be able to put pressure on (WVU QB Will Grier) and I think they answered the bell pretty well. One of the things we benefited from was they had a bunch of poor snaps early."
Defense had two of KU's three picks and returned them 28 and 60 yards. He went from one of KU's worst players on the field against Oklahoma State to one of its best vs. the Mountaineers. Defense started the season as a cornerback and has been playing safety the past few weeks.
“Free safety is a lot more space, a lot more open-field tackles, or a lot more open-field plays," Defense said. "Corner, you’ve always got the sideline or you’ve got help from the safety. Now that I’m the safety, I don’t get the help from that safety. It’s a lot more space, a lot more opportunities to make a play or have a play made on you."
Defense explained a specific way he improved in one week.
"We were in man on both plays," he said of his two interceptions. "As soon as the receiver broke off on the route, I tried to get a little peek back at the quarterback, not too long because last week they hit me with a double move. I practiced on the quick little glance all week so I wasn’t staring and getting beat.”
1 - Hasan Defense: At halftime Defense had more interception return yards (88) than Kansas had total yards of offense (78). Defense returned his two picks 28 and 60 yards.
2 - Daniel Wise: Was absolutely on fire for the entire game, trying to beat his blocker through the whistle. Spent much of the day in the backfield and finished with 3.5 tackles for 18 yards in losses, two of them sacks for 13 yards.
3 - Khalil Herbert: Somewhat surprising that he didn’t get more carries given that he rushed for 291 yards against West Virginia last season. Only carried it six times and rushed for 46 yards (7.7 ypc), 31 on a touchdown run.
4 - Pooka Williams: Mountaineers first team to keep Pooka from popping a long one. Even so, he had a solid day, gaining 65 yards on 12 carries with a long of 16 yards. Was not thrown for any losses.
5 - Bryce Torneden: Led team with eight solo and five assists and was in on one tackle behind line of scrimmage.
6 - Davon Ferguson: Returned interception 12 yards and made three solo tackles.
7 - Brian Lipscomb: Made two tackles behind line of scrimmage for 9 yards in losses, one of them a 5-yard sack.
8 - Joe Dineen: Made eight solo tackles.
9 - J.J. Holmes: Recovered a fumble and was in on a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.10 -
10 - Kyron Johnson: Really quick getting to the quarterback, Johnson jarred Will Grier into fumbling and Holmes recovered. On another play, Johnson got to Grier, but couldn’t wrap him up and Grier rushed for a big gain.
1 - Pooka Williams (45)
2 - Joe Dineen (39)
3 - Bryce Tornenden (33)
4 - Daniel Wise (25)
5 - Khalil Herbert (21)
6 - Kerr Johnson (13)
7t - Carter Stanley (11)
7t - Shak Taylor (11)
7t - Stephon Robinson (11)
7t - Jeremiah Booker (11)
11 - Keith Loneker (10)
12 - Mike Lee (9)
13 - Steven Sims (8)
14t - Gabriel Rui (7)
14t - Elmore Hempstead (7)
16 - Brian Lipscomb (6)
17t - Davon Ferguson (5)
17t - KeyShaun Simmons (5)
17t - Kyron Johnson (5)
20t - Ricky Thomas (4)
20t - Dom Williams (4)
22t - Kwamie Lassiter (3)
22t - Jeremiah McCullough (3)
22t - Osage Ogbebor (3)
22t - Kyle Thompson (3)
26t - J.J. Holmes (2)
26t - Miles Kendrick (2)
28t - Corione Harris (1)
28t - Andru Tovi (1)