Pa Panayotavich himself
FOX sports betting analyst
When five-star quarterback recruit Arch Manning committed to play football for Texas Longhorns in late June you could almost hear the festivities and fun coming from Austin.
Manning’s decision didn’t change the odds for the upcoming season — Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia remain heavy favorites to win the 2023 CFP national championship — but it will certainly help swing the pendulum for the next decade and restore order to the storied Longhorn program.
And while Manning won’t be out for a regular season appearance in orange for at least another 14 months, the recruiting domino effect will be interesting to watch.
Like my FOX Sports teammate Joel Klatt said last month: “Steve Sarkisian may have won the most coveted prize we’ve ever seen in a hiring. It’s not just that this guy chose Texas, it’s that the Manning family chose Texas.”
To analyze Manning’s impact from a gambling perspective, I gathered nine betting friends from Las Vegas to get their thoughts on Ark Manning’s commitment to Sarkisian and what it means for the future of the Longhorns.
These are their stories.
“I’m on vacation, my friend,” said WynnBET Vice President of Trading Alan Berg.
Greetings. Fortunately, Berg’s lieutenant Motoi Pearson was ready to strike.
“Arch has found a good home for him in Texas,” WynnBET senior trader told FOX Sports. “[Sarkisian] finds some talented offensive pieces to surround any quarterback. And any legitimate quarterback has to be worth at least a touchdown if he wants to be like Payton.
“Do I think he has that kind of talent? Yes. But only time will tell.”
Pearson’s hint that Manning could one day be worth seven points to the betting line is very strong. Recent Heisman Trophy winners Joe Barrow, Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson were worth about a touchdown, if not more.
Bryce Young’s value is also high, but it’s harder to gauge his true value because Alabama is an offensive juggernaut, and Nick Saban would simply be giving up another blue-chip prospect under center if Young went down.
Either way, Texas is undoubtedly dreaming of Manning reaching his potential. More importantly, you don’t just get Manning when you successfully convince a player of his caliber to commit. You’re opening the door for a new crop of offensive weapons that will be dying to play with the next Eli or Payton.
“[Manning’s signing] speaks to the quality of recruits they’re bringing in and that the program is headed in the right direction,” Circa Sports director of sports books Matt Metcalf said. “I’d be surprised if Sarkisian doesn’t succeed there because he’s a great guy in attack and it shouldn’t be hard to get the pieces there.
“I’ve been waiting for Texas to get back to elite status, and I think they have a chance to get there again with Manning.”
Metcalfe’s pal John Murray is also paying close attention to the recruit.
“We’re seeing reports that they’re screwing it up during recruiting, so we’re definitely keeping a close eye on that,” Westgate SuperBook executive said. “But Texas is almost always a hot team, and they’ve been letting people down for years playing in the Big 12. If they move to the SEC, it’s going to be even more difficult for them. [in 2025]. We’re not going to make any major adjustments until they show us something on the field.”
“Texas is a massive program that has operated as a Mountain West program for the past few years,” added US Bookmaking COO Robert Walker. “The Horns have been average in every sense of the word, so it’s exciting to see them get a player like Arch Manning.
“However, I still feel that Texas is somehow underachieving. Expectations are always high in Longhorn Country, and now they’re sky high. And I’m also not Steve Sarkisian’s biggest fan, because nobody leaves Washington or Washington State and doesn’t feel my wrath.”
“Texas is turning into Texas,” exclaims former Las Vegas oddsmaker Aaron Kessler.
Other bookies are still interested in Manning’s true potential. It’s one thing to watch him tear up seven-on-seven drills and dominate lower-level high school competition. Taking shots in the vaunted SEC, which expects (to be) the home of the Longhorns for most of Arch’s career, is another.
“I don’t have enough records of what he’s done so far, but if he’s as good as advertised, Texas will definitely be ready to compete with the SEC heavyweights from day one,” said PlayUp USA head of betting Rex Beyers. “Manning has already helped several other four- and five-star recruits who may have been on the fence about going to Texas. Sometimes what more important than the value of the Ark itself to the program.”
“He was the first freshman to start on his high school’s varsity team in 40 years,” Rampart Casino Sportsbook Director Dwayne Colucci said. “There are tons of videos on YouTube and Twitter showing him getting knocked out, but others believe he would only be a three-star prospect if he wasn’t named Manning. Both Eli and Peyton have been successful, so there’s no reason Arch shouldn’t be, but he still has a long way to go.”
Then there’s the resident miser who always reminds me that it’s important to stay in the moment and keep the horse before the cart.
“It doesn’t matter as long as he’s not in the middle of our team,” said Jeff Davis, assistant director of sports books for Circa Sports. “Until then, it’s about as relevant as Charlie Woods [Tiger’s 13-year-old son] win a golf tournament.’
Despite Davis’ current disdain, Manning will soon be competing with either Hudson Card or Quinn Ewers for QB1 status on Sarkisian’s depth chart. And eventually we’ll find out about Manning’s value to the betting line and whether Texas can rise up and challenge the heavyweights of college football.
Call me a jerk, but I can’t wait to see how Ark Manning’s college career unfolds, and I hope the Texas Longhorns return to prominence.
Some of my fondest betting memories are riding the Texas and Over train during Vince Young and the Horns’ historic 13-0 season in 2005. Texas finished 12-1 against the spread (ATS) and 12-1 against the “Over” en route to a national championship win over USC.
It will be a while before the Longhorns are legitimate contenders for another title. Heading into the upcoming season, most American sportsbooks are giving them odds of 50-1 or higher over the likes of Texas A&M, USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Michigan.
But that doesn’t mean the Longhorn faithful aren’t dreaming of another confetti party with Arch Manning under center.
Sam Panajotavich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He will probably play against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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