Still, it was hard to ignore Henning's cavalier attitude toward gambling among his players. Although he expressed outrage about the bets placed against the Eagles, he likened the other wagers, some of which totaled thousands of dollars, to the friendly action between politicians who "bet a dozen lobsters against whatever."
Chris Cosenza says he and his buddies had been looking for a sixth person for their suite at the start of this school year. Sheerin was looking for a room. Cosenza was aware that Sheerin took bets, but he considered Sheerin to be harmless. "I knew it was a mistake, but we needed one more guy," Cosenza says. Sheerin moved in and opened for business. And quite a business it apparently was. The CBS TV affiliate in Boston reported on Monday that Sheerin had turned over a client list of close to 500 student bettors to Reilly.
Cosenza had heard stories about how bookies sometimes operate, but the headline still jumped out at him last Saturday when The Boston Globe reported that a Queens, N.Y., bookmaker had put one of the student bookies implicated in the Boston College scandal in the hospital last year. The Page One story quoted an anonymous student bookie—Sheerin told SI he was the source of the quote—as saying that a New York bookie beat him with a two-by-four because he owed the man $4,000. According to the Globe, after the attack the student bookie's father stepped in and made four weekly payments of $1,000 to get his son out of trouble.
Cosenza spent last Saturday at his parents' house in Reading, Mass., watching the game. "I know what we did was wrong—we signed an agreement with the NCAA, and we knew the rules," says Cosenza, referring to a form every NCAA athlete signs, promising to abide by NCAA rules, including Bylaw 10.3, which prohibits gambling. "But none of this would have come out if the guys hadn't bet against us."
At 6'2", 167 pounds, Cosenza, who played just one season in high school, was nicknamed BC's Rudy by one of the investigators, a reference to the Notre Dame walk-on immortalized in a movie. Told he wasn't good enough to play football for Boston College, Cosenza walked on and spent a season as part of the scout team. Although he caught just one pass in college, the game against Notre Dame was supposed to be the culmination of a dream. He had moved up the depth chart and was slated to start against the Irish, the second start of his college career. Then he was suspended indefinitely for making a couple of bets, for trying to add a little excitement to the games on TV. "How do I feel?" Cosenza said last Saturday. "How do you think? Pretty stupid. I wish I hadn't done it. It's something I'll always regret."
Kickoff was a few minutes away, but the hurt had already set in for Cosenza. He gambled away a dream, and somehow it no longer felt like scratching a lottery ticket.