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You pretty much don’t want to bet against these two.

As the prime of the wagering season approaches we all are embarked on finding an edge or if not, we should be.  It is a search for value in trends.  What datum is unseen and ripe for exploit?  Or in my case… what nuggets of fool’s gold will Google search drop in front of me.

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Coaches who do well against the spread.  (Point spread, not spread offense.)

Coaches and coaching styles have so much to with outcome that I can’t stop mining this hole for clues on how to make it pay.  Coaches aren’t supposed to care about spreads and there really aren’t many coaches who will tack on that last TD to cover your -24 wager on them because sportsmanship and peer review and generally don’t want to be a douche.

But yet there are some coaches who consistently beat their spreads.

We looked at ATS records as part of our coaching move evals last week.  I got curious and wanted to see whether ATS records year-over-year are any kind of indicators for future performance.  (Answer is kinda no.)

But then I wanted to see if anyone had beat the odds with three consecutive ATS above .500 records.  The answer is there are two or two and and a half depending on whether Hugh Freeze counts.

Bill Snyder/K-State.  The Wizard.  You know he signed a new five year contract with K-State earlier this year?  $15,000,000 in Manhattan, KS gets you quite a crib I’d imagine.  (Actually, not really.)  But who can say he isn’t worth it.  In addition giving his name and his family’s name to the stadium (where the Wildcats have been .807 since 1990) he’s a coach who gets the most out of the talent on his teams.  To the extent that it is measurable, Snyder is tops.  Certainly he is tops among coaches born in the third age of middle earth before the dominion of Men.  FootballStudyHall did a spiffy study matrixing the recruiting grades of incoming classes (apparent talent) against an objective measure of team quality (FO’s F/+ rating.).  Snyder come out tops and his record against the spread reflects this:  23-9-1/.712 pct ATS last three years.

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Spencer Hall hilarity aside… Mike Gundy does really good work in Stillwater.

Mike Gundy/Ok-State.  The other superlative coach is still better known as a minor internet meme.  Mike Gundy is 23-10 ATS last three years.  But back in 2007 a reporter was critical of one of his players and Gundy went after the reporter in person and with vigor as as eloquently captured by Spencer Hall:

In car crashes and other moments of extreme significance to survival, time becomes very plastic, slowing down to a geological crawl, like when your wife is attempting to pick out the proper desk lamp at IKEA or during any baseball game. We can only assume that the hummingbird of time slowed to a millipede’s creep during the rant, since we think the focus of Gundy’s overcaffeineated stare is [the reporter] herself, sitting in the room and taking her thrashing in person.

That was a long time ago and if anything probably helped bring his team together.  In other words, not really a big deal.  But as long as Gundy is perceived more as “hair-gel aficionado” than really good coach, then _I_ perceive his underrated stature as a value play worth picking up on.

But while those two are at the top there are other coaches where it’s usually profitable to ride along side.  In looking at ATS record for the last three years, here are bullets that I’m keeping in the mag.

  • Hugh Freeze/Ole Miss is 24-10 ATS in the last three years but it’s split between schools I just can’t put him with Snyder and Gundy.  At least not in this piece; in my mind he’s already there.
  • Stanford has been way over .500 ATS last three years (22-9-2 /.667), but Jim Harbaugh was still coach in 2010.  David Shaw/Stanford looks great (15-6-1) but it’s only two years.  We’ve seen many coaches unable to beat Vegas three years in a row.
  • Same for James Franklin/Vandy.  He took a 2-10 team over in 2010 and has gone 15-7 ATS since, but still.. no three consecutive years on the record.  Doesn’t mean he hasn’t earned your notice.
  • Art Briles/Baylor is over .500.  Not as dominating as I’d have expected but always on our list of coaches we like.

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    The Franklin vs. Freeze opener in a week is must-see.

If you want to pick through the ATS data to see how your coach or team has fared:  here is 2012; here is 2011; here is 2010.

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Staying on the theme of looking for edges off the trail, let’s take a stroll around some other, less well-covered, conferences and see what we see.  Yes, imo, Pac-12 is a less-well-covered conference.

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Sun Belt Players I like

Kolton Browning/ULM.  A four year starter at QB who won at Arkansas last year, took Auburn into OT, stayed within a TD of Baylor is just someone I like.  A likely replacement for my Ryan Aplin affections. (more…)