Despite the Big Ten, MAC, Mountain West, Pac-12, and two FBS Independent universities postponing their fall sports indefinitely, the Big 12 football season is, as of right now at least, still scheduled to start Sept. 12.
The conference has been clear that the situation is still tentative, however. That’s why legal online sports betting in West Virginia is taking a conservative approach.
Conference futures are the only Big 12 football season action right now
As far as college football betting markets go right now, choices are quite limited. DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook have markets for which teams will win the ACC, Big 12, and SEC conference championship games.
BetMGM Sportsbook has lines on 93 different games, some of which are no longer on teams’ schedules. The Big 12 has canceled all non-conference games for this fall.
All of those markets are currently locked, however. The sportsbook won’t actually take any action on them, so essentially, BetMGM customers can’t bet on college football at all right now.
Over at DraftKings and FanDuel, you can put money down on the Mountaineers to win the Big 12 title game right now. DraftKings has WVU football +2500 to prevail in that contests, while FanDuel notches WVU at +5000.
FanDuel is quite explicit in its terms for its Big 12 futures market. If the Big 12 title game doesn’t take place, the sportsbook will cancel your bet and return your wager.
That means finishing atop the Big 12 standings after the conference concludes its regular-season slate won’t suffice. FanDuel will set your wager on the championship game, not the win-loss standings.
It’s possible that as the calendar creeps closer to WVU taking on Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 12, WV sportsbooks will have lines on individual games available. Right now, however, they are being cautious.
Why the hesitation makes sense for legal sportsbook operators
WVU hasn’t pulled any punches on the still fragile state of fall sports in 2020. That not only applies to starting the football season but on a week-to-week basis, should the Mountaineers kickoff.
The language out of the conference is that it is “continuing to plan” for a fall season. In its revised schedule, however, teams now have two open dates in their 10-game slates.
That serves a very clear purpose. It affords teams some flexibility if COVID-19 testing sidelines them during a particular week. The conference mandated testing for athletes to take place three times per week.
The conference hasn’t yet publicized what threshold of positive tests would force a postponement. That’s another reason for sportsbooks’ wariness about taking bets on these games, however.
Should a high-profile player, like Texas offensive tackle Sam Cosmi, test positive and miss a game, that could drastically affect odds for the contest. Additionally, that positive test could come as little as a day before a game.
For all those reasons, it’s going to be a precarious situation for bettors and sportsbooks alike, should the Big 12 actually proceed with fall sports. Right now, that’s the plan, but you know what happens to the best-laid plans of mice and men.