My problem was that the books were getting smart-ass wise and they were fluctuating the line something awful. That's what happened with St. John's, which turned out to be a little better than 50% successful. It was a push, or a standoff, with some books, I lost with others. It gets complicated, but the problem is, say you bet $35,000, if you win, you get $35,000; if you lose, you have to pay around $37,500. It's so tough. Anyway, I negotiated a price with the kids, about half their regular fee. I guess they tried—again—what with Cobb hitting one of seven from the field, fouling out and committing eight turnovers. Afterward, I had a conversation with Perla about how maybe Cobb had overdone it. We laughed. Cobb probably thought he should do a lot for $2,500. I thought he should, too.
The main thing I wanted my guys to do was know the line and watch the scoreboard. Another thing about point shaving is that sometimes just the way the game is going, mistakes might not be necessary. So then the kids get their money for doing nothing, and that's fair.
Occasionally, I'd bet on BC to win with nothing on with the players. Because I was paying them not to score, I didn't want to confuse them by suddenly telling them to do their best. Anyway, I didn't bet heavily on these win games, maybe $10,000 or $15,000. I did it mainly to try to make the bookies think we were O.K. And, as I told you, I'm a little bit of a gambler.
I was looking forward to the Feb. 10 Holy Cross game because it was going to be on TV. It was close on the line, maybe pick-'em. but with the line fluctuating so much, I didn't do well. This was a full-fledged disaster. Doomsday. It still hurts to think about it. I was over at Jimmy Burke's place in Howard Beach, Queens. We get out the Michelob, some crackers, some cheese, and we're set. Jimmy's maybe got $50,000 or more bet, and I'm down for probably $35,000.
All three of my boys started this one, which meant 60% of the lineup was in the tank. Naturally, good things happened. Even the announcer said something about Cobb "forcing shots." Attaboy, Ernie! It's force time. At the start of the second half. Sweeney inbounded to Kuhn and Rick traveled. That's teamwork. Pass the cheese. Then the announcer said something about Cobb "not being under control today." The hell he wasn't. In one lovely stretch starting with about four minutes left in the game, Cobb made a silly foul, turned the ball over, missed two shots in a row and committed a foul. What can I say? But just when I was getting ready to drink my victory beer, things went sour. Suddenly there were a bunch of fouls and I don't know what all. But the only thing I know for sure is bang, I lost, Jimmy lost, everybody lost.
This was pretty upsetting to both of us. We just sat there and cursed and went crazy. But what were we supposed to do? Nothing. So we had another beer—this time with a Chivas chaser. All the books knew we were betting Holy Cross, so some of them kept adjusting the line, hoping to middle us; that is, fluctuate the line so that half my money was bet under the final spread and half over. That way nobody loses, but nobody wins either. Well, they did middle us. They sure did. And worse. I had even sent somebody out to Vegas to bet $25,000 with the legal bookies; plus I heard that this guy might have blown $10,000 of that money at the craps tables and I had to pay for his plane ticket. What am I thinking now? Well, what I'm looking to do next is to strangle some basketball players, to be honest. I was disgusted with basketball players.
But, because I'm a sucker, the players talked us into doing one more, the ECAC playoff against Connecticut. I did it simply because it was a good opportunity. See, I heard Kuhn was hurt and Cobb was hurt. The line was about pick-'em, and we knew BC was going to blow it big. I got down big, everybody did, and, of course, BC lost big, and now we were all straightened up and wearing happy faces.
But the fact is, it all could have gone a lot better on the season. Of course, I have to remind myself it could have gone a lot worse, too. Regardless, we finished with a good taste in our mouths about the whole experience.
And that was it. No fireworks. No nothing. It just ended, because Cobb and Kuhn were seniors and nobody seemed to want to do it anymore. The Pittburgh guys were getting scared because there was an awful lot of nasty talk, plus it was hard for them to get down for even $10,000. Even though everybody made money, it was a lot of hassle. And, listen, it wasn't as simple as I'm making it out to be.
I wasn't interested in any big-deal college-basketball-fixing thing involving a lot of schools like in the '50s. BC just happened to come along, although I admit that if another point-shaving deal or something had crossed my path, you know me, I definitely would have gotten involved.