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How Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith is preparing for the effect of gambling on college sports

The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow gambling on sports outside of Nevada has college administrators trying to find safeguards.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

“It concerns me. It concerns me from the point of view of the athlete — making sure we protect people. My biggest concern is educating, educating, educating, and then putting in firewalls to protect them.”

-Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith on gambling via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

In May the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ban that made sports gambling outside of Nevada unconstitutional. Now college administrators are trying to prepare as best they can to educate and protect student-athletes from the influences of gambling which could arise.

Even before the gambling ban was struck down, there was still plenty of betting going on when it came to college games. The biggest difference now, is it will be more easily accessible to more people. Despite not supporting college sports betting, Smith thinks it is something than can be managed, and the biggest way to do that is to not overreact to the issue.

One idea being tossed around by athletic directors is an injury reporting system with the NCAA. Some coaches around the country like to divulge as little information as possible when it comes to injuries, which gives their opponents even more to prepare for. Smith and some of the other athletic directors around the country feel as if injuries are declared then it could eliminate an area that bettors could exploit when it comes to the point spread.

While gambling scandals are nothing new when it comes to college sports, now with gambling being legalized, it could bring some of those issues back. One area of concern for Smith is the number of prop bets that are available these days. One play that might seem not all that important to some, could swing a prop bet, which is why Smith feels that education of the student-athletes on this issue is so important.

Luckily for Smith, Ohio State’s athletic programs have some of the best staffs in the country working for them, which should help them get a leg up on these issues.


“I believe it is [more likely]. Coach Meyer and J.T. had a really great relationship. He’s a great leader and a great player. Coach Meyer had a lot of trust in J.T., which he should. Now he’s gaining trust in the running backs.”

-Ohio State running back Mike Weber on short-yardage situations via Tony Gerdeman, The-Ozone

Over the last couple years the decision has been easy for Ohio State when they faced third down and a yard or two. Let J.T. Barrett run the ball and move the chains. Now the decision won’t be so easy for head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, as Barrett won’t be lining up under center for the Buckeyes.

Last year against Power 5 competition, Ohio State ran the football on third or fourth down with less than three yards to go on 60 different occasions. Of those 60 times the Buckeyes ran the football, J.T. Barrett was the ball carrier on 28 of the runs. Barrett turned 20 of those 28 runs into first downs, and averaged 4.9 yards per carry on those plays.

Luckily for Ohio State, they have two pretty good running backs who can fill the void left by Barrett in those situations. The favorite to see more carries on third- and fourth-downs is Mike Weber, who picked up nine first downs in the 11 times he carried the ball with less than three yards to go on third or fourth down. Weber averaged 12.3 yards per carry in those situations.

J.K. Dobbins carried the football 15 times on third or fourth down with less than three yards to go, and picked up 11 first downs. While Dobbins didn’t have nearly the average per carry that Weber did in those situations, he still averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

Ohio State can’t go wrong with giving either running back more carries in short-yardage situations, but it feels like Weber will likely get most of those touches. Even though Dobbins does have more elusiveness than Weber, it’s hard to go wrong with the speed and power that the junior running back possesses. If Dobbins and Weber continue to pick up first downs in short-yardage situations like they did last year, it put even more pressure on opposing defense, who will already be tasked with trying to slow down a dynamic Ohio State offense.


“That’s one of those things I’ve picked up since leaving college, with diet being so important. Since I’ve been here, and especially in pre-draft, I’m just trying to pay attention to never eating fried foods and stuff like that. Being smart about when you are taking into your body, because that’s really the key from here on out. That’s really big to me.”

-Former Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard via Mike Dyer, WCPO-Cincinnati

Players like Sam Hubbard may have been able to get away with having more of a lax diet in college, but that is an area that can’t be ignored at the professional level. With the best players in the world playing in the NFL, not watching what you eat and taking care of your body could see you in the unemployment line sooner rather than later.

Hubbard has already gotten off to a good start with the Cincinnati Bengals, making yogurt or veggie shakes to help recovery after practice, eating meals with fish or lean white meats and brown rice and veggies, and granola bars before going to sleep at night. Hubbard tries to eat every two to four hours during the day because of how quickly he can burn calories.

Despite being with the Bengals for a short amount of time, Hubbard has already seen some changes. After just a month with the team, Hubbard has already seen his body fat percentage drop. Now Hubbard is trying to gain weight with more starches, carbohydrates, and proteins, but he is trying to do so in a healthier way.

It doesn’t hurt that Cincinnati strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton went to graduate school with Mickey Marotti, so he is familiar with the weight training program Hubbard was put through at Ohio State. With the training base that Hubbard has from Marotti while at Ohio State, along with the attention to detail that Hubbard is getting with the Bengals, it isn’t hard to imagine Hubbard finding plenty of success in the NFL.


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