The gambling scandal embroiling the Iowa and Iowa State football programs expanded today as the Iowa DCI announced charges against 4 more current/former members of the Iowa football team, including a couple of pretty big names.
Arland Bruce IV (WR, now at Oklahoma State), Reggie Bracy (DB, now at Troy), Jack Johnson (WR), and Owen O’Brien (Student Assistant) were charged with record tampering (which means they made an attempt to conceal their identities in order to place the wagers before being of legal age to do so) and all are accused of placing bets on Iowa football games.
Bruce is certainly the biggest name here, having been one of Iowa’s primary playmakers over the last two seasons. Bruce is accused of betting on nearly a dozen games in which he donned a Hawkeye uniform, which made up about 10% of the bets he’s accused of making.
Bracy is accused of placing bets on two Iowa games in which he played, Johnson on four (though he did not play in any of the games) and O’Brien three (while he was a member of the coaching staff). It also appears that Bracy placed bets through Arland Bruce’s gambling account prior to either player being 21 years old.
Per court filings from Johnson Co. Attorney:— Mitch Fick (@MCFick) August 10, 2023
Bracy: 66 bets, $715, 2 Iowa FB bets ('22 season)
Bruce: 132 bets, $4,300+, 12 Iowa FB bets (six in '21, six in '22)
Johnson: 480+ bets, $2,500+, 4 Iowa bets (WISC '21, ILL '22)
O'Brien: 350+ bets, $3,000+, 3 Iowa bets ('22 season) https://t.co/9HX5CofP1m
If these charges hold, it is not unlikely that their NCAA careers are over, and likely that they will never play another down of big-time college football (in that they’d be ineligible at all NCAA sanctioned schools). Though I’m sure there’s an NAIA coach somewhere that would be more than happy to add some talent to their rosters.
At this point, what’s left to say? These players made a huge, HUGE, mistake and they’re likely going to pay for it with whatever hopes and dreams they had of a career in football. They gave everything away for <$5K (some, Bracy for instance, for <$800). All so they could take the under on some Iowa games (Bruce did this at least twice) and what, bet $10 to win $7? Enjoy the extra chips and queso at Panchero’s kids, all it cost was everything you’ve ever worked for.
Bruce and Bracy were already gone from Iowa City, and I don’t think Jack Johnson was on anyone’s breakout star list, but it doesn’t really matter now. 4 more football careers likely in mothballs thanks to gambling. Now listen, I’m all for people being able to gamble if that’s their choice. Personally, I’ve not been a fan since a terrible bet against Evander Holyfield cost me $5 and a few games of bowling when I was 11 (my dad was pretty pissed, though I’ve never been sure if it was because I cost him $5, or because I legitimately thought George Foreman had a chance to beat Holyfield), but if an adult wants to gamble, then I say let them.
That being said, I can’t say that I’m a particular fan of what the meteoric rise of gambling over the last 5-10 years is doing to sports, or at least sports coverage. Aside from the constant barrage of advertising during every commercial break, you’ve got the media dedicating entire segments of pre/mid/post-game coverage to lines, payouts, and parlays instead of talking about the sports they cover. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the articles here on BHGP that are dedicated to gambling, but que sera sera, I can choose to skip them. I guess I just wish we could go back to the time when gambling was hard or, at the very least, exciting.
When I was a freshman at Iowa one of, I assume, many campus bookies lived on my floor. He was a really nice guy from New York City who, honestly, didn’t seem to care much about sports, he just took bets back when it was illegal to do so. Back then there was a feeling of danger, excitement or even adventure to gambling on sports. Now it’s an app on your phone, with special deals to get you in the door. “Spend $5 and get $50 credit on your first wager!”, “$125 worth of bets for just $25 for new members!”. The ads should really just be a picture of Omar from the Wire (RIP Michael K. WIlliams) saying “First taste is free.”
Regardless of how you feel about gambling, it’s sad to see 4 people being so reckless with their future. We’ve all been young, and we’ve all made mistakes, it’s just sad to see something that is so easily avoided ruin the dreams of these young men, and for what? Enough money to buy a cheap used car, or maybe a PS5, but certainly nothing that would get them a high roller suite and some free drinks on the strip. Hell, most of them wouldn’t have even been able to rent a Top Golf Swing Suite at Riverside for more than a couple of hours.
The only positive about this announcement was that Noah Shannon’s name was not included, which likely bodes well both for his career and the health of the Iowa defensive line less than a month out from the start of the season.
PSA Time, if you or someone you know has a Gambling Problem, they can call the NCPG Problem Gambling Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-GAMBLER. Don’t let gambling ruin your life.