I took a 15-minute drive Aug. 1 from my home in Gulfport, Miss., to Biloxi for the opening day of the sportsbook at the Beau Rivage Casino and Resort, and I came back with homework. Lots of homework.

The sheets of paper listed season-opening college football games and other sports for betting.

Now I have a problem and it’s gambling-related. I lost all my homework before I ever had a chance to study. This adds up to zero research and a few questions. Who are the best players? Who are the best teams? Is Urban Meyer still the Ohio State coach? Is Alabama still the defending national champion?

I have no idea, and this means I’m far from ready to wager a little of my retirement money on some of this weekend’s college openers.

I’m kind of like Dez Bryant, the NFL wide receiver without a team. I can relate to his tweet on Monday: “I will play this year. It just might be a little bit later in the year. We will see.”

When I do place a bet this season, it will be my first in almost 50 years.

Long before the Beau, Biloxi was the home of The 406 Club, a place downtown where I got football parlay sheets in my junior year and senior year of high school. Big Fred, K-9, Stip and Pony were among the characters there, and I always assumed The 406 was legit because you could walk right in and check out the games and point spreads on the chalkboard behind the counter.

I never won with the parlays, but I never lost much money, either.

Maybe I should have tried pinball instead. The Globe Newsstand downtown had a couple of pinball machines in the back of the shop, and the machines were popular because they paid off, so popular that policemen young and old were among the frequent players.

I have more memories of old Biloxi, including one that is legendary among my Catholic high school classmates.

The story goes that Brother Jeremiah, our Religion teacher and somewhat of a Book of Deuteronomy scholar, asked students to tell what their fathers did for a living.

Brother Jeremiah started with, “Mr. Jones (not his real name), what does your father do?”

Mr. Jones feared the wrath of Brother Jeremiah, but didn’t want to lie.

“Brother, my father is a bookie,” Mr. Jones said.

Brother Jeremiah said, “You are a joker, Mr. Jones. I’m sending you to detention to read The Book of Deuteronomy.”

Mr. Smith (not his real name) was next and he was as fearful as Mr. Jones.

“Brother, my father is a bookie,” Mr. Smith said.

Brother Jeremiah said, “You are a clown, Mr. Smith. I’m sending you to detention to read The Book of Deuteronomy.”

After detention, the sons of Biloxi bookies laughed.

They won bets that Brother Jeremiah would pick Deuteronomy.

And who lost? The fathers.

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John E. Bialas
John, 66, is retired from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sun Herald newspaper in Gulfport, Miss., after a 45-year career there in which he was a sportswriter, weekend sports editor, book reviewer, rock music critic, copy editor, blogger, Facebook administrator and award-winning headline writer and page designer. He lives in Gulfport with his wife, Patricia, and writes the blog Pictures of Tilly which you can find at http://picturesoftilly.net/.