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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.
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.
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.
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.
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…)
I can’t remember more a year with more coaching changes in college football. Several are Cheddar* favorites from last year.
History shows that Cheddar favorites often make an immediate difference at their new teams. It pays to be up on who has moved where. Hello-old-friend-from-Arky-St-and-now-at-Ole-Miss Hugh Freeze. You-were-quite-awesome-at-Houston-I-bet-you’ll-do-well-at-TAMU Kevin Sumlin. Oh you too Urbz.
Of course they’re not all homeruns. >>>
Hugh Freeze’s Ole Miss was 10-3 ATS last year and the Rebels figure to be harder to get value with in Vegas this year; although I intend to try. Meanwhile Chow and Weis were both 4-8 ATS and that seems high.
Anyway, as part of my Cheddar pre-season prep, I like to take a look at this year’s coaching changes, identify the Warlocks and the Shurmurs, and make sure I know who is coaching where. This year there look to be quite a few warlocks and potential warlocks in new places.
The biggest coaching trade-ups.
1. Wisconsin. Gary Andersen from Utah State.
This here is the best coaching hire of the year and Wisconsin figures to take a big step up. You made money if you rode USU last year, 11-1-1 ATS. If you watched their games you came away impressed at how hard USU worked and their sense of team. Andersen’s teams had been doing that for years.
2. Purdue. Darrell Hazell from Kent State.
I learned a hard lesson in coaching evaluations last year when I took UBuffalo -3.5 over Kent and cited Jeff Quinn’s experience as OC for Brian Kelly as a reason. Whoo boy was that stupid on its own. When you layer on that Darrell Hazell has six years as a Jim Tressel assistant plus a couple stints at Oberlin and it all adds up to the worst essay pick of the year in a season full of bad essay picks. (Minus three.. and a half??? Cripes.) Kent wound up 11-3 ATS. I didn’t hate Danny Hope at Purdue but I didn’t love him and I can’t imagine I’d choose to play for him if I had options. Hazell on the other hand… he could be a star. Definitely keep an eye on Purdue’s early games before jumping on-board.
Honorable mention, Colorado. Mike MacIntyre from San Jose.
All I know is SJSU made me money the last two years. He took over a 2-10 team and last year they’re 11-2 ATS. I’m not sure the Buffs will see a big improvement this year though. Just too much stank on that program to wash it off in one year. But next year I’d expect Colorado to be where Arizona State is this year: on the rise.
Which segues neatly to….
Addition by subtraction: The Todd Graham Trophy
As well as Sumlin and Freeze turned out for TAMU and Ole Miss, they weren’t replacing zombies. Contrast that to Todd Graham who inherited a Dennis Erickson team that had quit the year before and now has Arizona State (8-4-1 ATS) playing sparkly ball. Here’s this year’s list of train wrecks being cleared. These teams figure to show the most improvement year-over-year. (more…)