What are the odds?


Jordan Lee gets interviewed by a crowd in the media room after taking the lead but before the Super Six was revealed. His 27-4 had the entire stadium buzzing.
Mike Suchan

Jordan Lee gets interviewed by a crowd in the media room after taking the lead but before the Super Six was revealed. His 27-4 had the entire stadium buzzing.

Having been born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1973 during the age of Bear Bryant’s great run of dominance at the University of Alabama, I never had any choice but to be a college football fan.

It’s a blood-borne passion that can’t be cured — and I don’t want it to be.

But one thing about college football that really bothers me are the “experts” who start every autumn Saturday by telling us exactly what’s going to happen with that day’s games.

They wear fancy suits and talk in absolutes, but even the best ones are wrong about 35 percent of time.

Then the next week, they come back dressed to the nines again, telling us all again — without an apology or smidgen of doubt left over from last week — how things are going to go this week.

It seems to me when you’re wrong, you should say you’re wrong — and with that in mind, I’d like to address this year’s odds gallery for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. 

I was charged with coordinating that particular photo gallery this year on Bassmaster.com — and like most collections of picks, it contained some good ones, some bad ones and some that were equivalent to the Saturday-morning misses I’ve come to despise.

I’m kind of proud that we had Jordan Lee in the seventh position in the gallery with odds set at 8-1. We took some heat for having such a young man ranked above more experienced anglers, but Lee is now a Classic champ.

I also think Michael Iaconelli (5-1) was a good choice in the fifth spot, considering he actually finished sixth, and Ott DeFoe, who finished fifth in the Classic, was a solid pick at 20-1.

But let’s face it: The top of the gallery — very unpredictably — was kind of a mess.

Alton Jones (2-1), a Texan and our odds-on favorite to win, finished 27th and didn’t qualify to fish on Championship Sunday.

The same was true of Texan Keith Combs, who many fishing fans considered an overwhelming favorite from the moment Lake Conroe was announced as the tournament site. We gave Combs 3-1 odds — the second position behind Alton Jones — and he finished 35th.

In Combs’ defense, he tried for months to tell everyone he shouldn’t be considered the favorite. The time of year and the positioning of the fish just didn’t play to his strengths. But considering his past successes on Conroe, how could we resist?

The top of the list went on like that for a while.

We picked Greg Hackney third at 4-1, and he finished 30th. Another big Texas angler, Todd Faircloth, was picked fourth and finished 25th.

Then there was veteran Steve Kennedy who was picked near the middle of the pack and didn’t particularly like it. He responded by finishing second, about 1 1/2 pounds away from his first Classic win.

There were also veterans who didn’t fare as well as we thought. 

Who could have foreseen reigning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle catching just one fish in two days? Who would have thought Takahiro Omori, a transplanted Texan and former Classic champ, would have placed 45th? 

By owning all of these misses, I’m probably making it sound like the odds gallery was just off in every way. But I think it speaks to the wonderful unpredictability of our sport.

Two more guys I’d like to give a shout out to are B.A.S.S. Nation qualifiers Timothy Klinger and Ryan Lavigne. We placed both of them in the longshot category, and all they did was finish 15th and 16th, respectively.

That’s pretty stout for two guys who had never experienced the bright lights of the Bassmaster Classic.

It’s also pretty solid proof that it’s hard to pick reliable odds for a 52-angler tournament two months in advance.

No matter what happens — no matter what Mother Nature dishes out — some folks are always going to surprise you.

If you bet your house against any of them, you could end up living in your truck.