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Life's Rich Pageant

We’ve Found Him: America’s Dumbest Bettor

2:52 PM EST on February 1, 2024

College Basketball: NCAA Playoffs: View of sports book patrons betting on March Madness games at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. Las Vegas, NV 3/21/2013 CREDIT: Chris Farina (Photo by Chris Farina /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X156296 TK2 R1 F31 )
Chris Farina /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Until today, I thought I was the stupidest bettor. I once bet a 16-leg NHL parlay. I took Nebraska and the over. I have an open bet on Sam Darnold to win Super Bowl MVP. Today, however, I am vindicated as only the second-stupidest bettor. The stupidest bettor is Bert Neff Jr.

Neff is the youth baseball coach who was entrusted—unwisely, it would seem—by former Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon with inside information. Bohannon texted Neff that his starting pitcher that day was going to be scratched with an injury; Neff got his bet on LSU in before Bohannon officially reported his lineup. In previous reporting, it was made to sound like the sportsbook's high-tech safeguards were what thwarted the scheme: that "the book’s video surveillance cameras were able to zoom in on the details of Neff and Bohannon’s text exchange." But no, it was far more lo-fi than that.

On Thursday, Alabama and the NCAA reached a negotiated resolution on punishment, which is what programs do when they don't dispute the wrongdoing and don't want to go through the rigamarole of an investigation. Contained in this resolution, which you can read at the bottom of this post, are details on big-brain genius Bert Neff's actions at the betting window.

I'm in awe. I've done some dopey things—betting Isaiah Hartenstein to hit a game's first three, for example; in my defense(?) it was preseason—but I've never told sportsbook staff that I have inside information when trying to get them to extend my betting limit. And I've certainly never shown them that inside information. Bert Neff, thank you.

Earlier this week, Neff was charged with destroying evidence, tampering with witnesses, and providing false statements to the FBI. Bohannon, who was fired by Alabama just days after it began its investigation, received a 15-year show-cause order, as well as a fine and probation.

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