Auburn bet to pay off, win or lose
Mark Skiba's father was on vacation in Las Vegas last January when he looked at the future odds for Auburn to win the national championship: 500 to 1.
So he called he son, a Tigers fan who graduated from the school in 1998.
"I told my dad to put $100 on it," Skiba said. "And he said, 'You're crazy.'"
Thanks to an improbable 12-1 season, which included spectacular finishes against Georgia and in the Iron Bowl against Alabama, Skiba and a handful of others have a chance to make a lot of money on the Vizio BCS Championship Game.
Skiba, whose bet was placed at the Paris Hotel & Casino on the Vegas Strip, didn't even get the best odds.
The Las Vegas Hotel says it had 14 bettors who placed a bet on Auburn to win it all at 1,000-1 odds. A spokesman for Sportsbook.com said it had two bettors who threw down $100 at 1,000-1 odds.
By comparison, Florida State opened the season with 40-1 odds to win the national title. The top-ranked Seminoles (13-0) will face Auburn on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.
For most of the season, Mark Skiba's betting slip lived in a drawer in his Alabama home, but it almost found its way to the bottom of a trash can after the team lost to LSU in September.
"They lost by 14 and it could have been worse," Skiba said. "So I almost threw it out. As it turns out, I now have it in a safety deposit box."
Skiba's story is literally against all odds considering that he says his previous bet before this one -- save for a couple of bets on his own game on the local golf course -- was on Auburn to win the title in 2011.
Weeks after Auburn signed Cam Newton, Skiba said he placed $10 on the Tigers to win it all at 100-1.
"The $1,000 I won paid for my ticket to the game," Skiba said.
Skiba went to the SEC championship game in Atlanta last Saturday and, after Auburn beat Missouri, he watched in disbelief as Michigan State beat Ohio State, which hadn't lost in the 24 games it had played under Urban Meyer.
In the hours after the game, Skiba contemplated his options. He could go all or nothing, hope that Auburn wins the title and he would take home $50,000, or he could be guaranteed money by hedging and placing a bet on FSU, which is favored by nine points.
Ultimately, Skiba decided he will close the loop on his bet by heading to Vegas with a couple of buddies -- including a friend who is an accountant -- and place a bet on the Seminoles that he says will maximize his winnings and take some of the risk off the table.
As an image of Skiba's slip was passed around on Twitter in the minutes after Ohio State's loss, masses of people on the social media platform congratulated him.
Said Skiba: "Some were acting like I did something amazing or I saved somebody's life. I just placed a stupid bet on my favorite team."
Well, apparently, not that stupid.
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- CFP: First four unchanged, but Ole Miss falls
- Georgia's Gurley undergoes knee surgery
- Meyer's message: OSU better behave vs. U-M
- London to remain Virginia's coach in 2015