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Before You Place Your Bets – You Better Know Your Coaches

Before You Place Your Bets – You Better Know Your Coaches

Coaches are as important to college football as even the best blue chip recruits, so before you place your bets, you better know your coaches. This is especially true in today’s game given how much it changes and evolves from season to season. The funny thing is many head coaches aren’t necessarily hired because of their statistics as a coach like say a baseball player or a QB. This is a little bit shocking given the financial impact a good or bad coaching hire can have on a university No, most coaches are hired for who they know, where they are from, or what they did in one year of their career. Although this shouldn’t be enough alone to hire a coach, many times it appears to be the very reason they got the job. It’s up to us as cappers to determine if these coaches were good hires. And the best way to do that is to simply look at their true overall statistics as a coach.

Know Your Coaches Tendencies

Just as important as a coach’s statistical history is his tendencies as a coach. What kind of coach are we dealing with? An aggressive offensive-minded coach, or a conservative defensive coach? Is he a pointspread-conscious coach, or is he a coach that is just out for a win, and will ease off the gas pedal and go into conservative mode when his team gets a lead?

Woody Hayes

Woody Hayes

I can name many examples of aggressive coaches. I know back in the day Woody Hayes didn’t feel sorry for any opponent his team played, especially Michigan. Lou Holtz was an assistant on Hayes staff back in the late 60’s. And Holtz recalled the time they beat Michigan 50-14 in 1968. After Ohio St. scored their last touchdown they went for a two-point conversion. Holtz said that after the game they asked coach Hayes why he went for two, and he replied “because they wouldn’t let me go for three.” So you definitely have to be aware of the “hate factor” in college football. Some coaches simply don’t like any opponent played on a Saturday afternoon on their home turf. And running up the score whenever possible is simply a no-brainer for them.

Several modern day coaches come to mind when it comes to being point spread conscious. Mike Leach actually used to keep his first units in to the end of their home games against their cupcake competition if he hadn’t yet reached the point spread. Urban Meyer has never been accused of feeling sorry for any team. Bob Stoops teams in Norman have put up some big numbers in the past. His thinking has always been if you don’t want to get the hell beat out of you, bring a better team. I think you get the idea. There are many examples I could write on this subject. But I think the main thing to remember is to do your homework on these coaches history and their tendencies towards certain teams or spots on their schedule.

Be Aware of New Coaching Hires and Changes

I always like to keep up with both the new coaching hires and new coordinator hires. The best site that I’ve seen on the net for keeping you informed of the latest news on these coaches is CoachingSearch.Com.This site with it’s up to date coaching search ticker will tell you all you need to know about coaching moves, which are much more plentiful during the off season than most of the public is aware of. I can’t stress enough how important some of these moves can be. So pay attention to this site. It can be especially helpful when you’re capping these early games in the first month of the season when a team is still breaking in a new or coordinator or staff.

Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops

Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops

When capping a game it is also important to look at these coaches head to head records against each other, or their home records as opposed to their away records as coaches. You will be surprised, there can be some big differences between the two. There are coaches who are terrific in the role of revenge, or off a loss. This isn’t an up to date list, but here are a few example stats of some of the name coach’s records off a loss and with revenge up until 2010. All of these stats are ATS:

Jim Tressel (off a loss) 12-5 (with revenge) 12-4
Bob Stoops (off a loss) 15-7 (w/revenge) 8-7
Bill Snyder 40-19 & 51-25
Kevin Sumlin 5-3 & 5-0
Gary Anderson 5-2 & 6-1
Urban Meyer 7-2 & 7-3
Art Briles 8-4 & 9-5
Frank Beamer 41-32 & 43-19
Kirk Ferentz 30-17 & 23-21
Greg Schiano 28-20 & 26-21
Jim Grobe 25-22 & 25-17

Then you also have your coach’s that aren’t so good ATS in all of these roles, such as:

Mack Brown (off a loss) 15-8 (with revenge) 6-15
Dave Wannstadt 9-12 & 12-7
Les Miles 7-6 & 2-7
Nick Saban 1-6 & 6-4

Just to name a few. Keep in mind that these are ATS records, not necessarily wins or losses after a loss. But you get the idea. And as cappers we are only concerned about the ATS stats. Another good site that I found helpful past season was Coaches By The Numbers. This is a pay site, but it’s a small fee, and you basically only need it for about 4 months out of the season. This site has just about everything you need to know about a coach’s stats. And the ones that are on hot or cold ATS runs. Their history against other coaches and teams, etc. Plus there are many links you can go to. A very informative site to say the least.

Paul Rhoads

Iowa State Head Coach Paul Rhoads

I can’t express enough how important coaching can be in football. Especially college football where these coaches are not only the father-figure, but the glue that holds the team together, and the personality that the team eventually becomes. Just use your common sense. When you see these new coaches and you are trying to predict their ultimate success, does he look like the dynamic figure and type A personality that is going to be a mover and shaker in college football? Or does he have the look and sound of just a plain Jane run of the mill head head coach? I can name plenty of these kinds of coaches. Wannstadt and Zook come to mind. Compare those kinds of personalities to the Brian Kelly’s and the Brady Hoke’s out there. Or the up and coming less known fiery coaches like Paul Rhoads. If these coaches don’t look like they have that fire inside them, I am very apprehensive about putting my well earned money down on them. But when they have that something special about them, it can many times be the one thing it takes for me to tilt my opinion on a game.

What do you think? How much emphasis do you place on coaching when analyzing a game? What other thoughts or ideas do you have that I might have missed here? Leave your questions and comments below.

12 Responses to “Before You Place Your Bets – You Better Know Your Coaches”

  1. Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

    Good stuff GS. I know how important it is to cap these coaches, or at least have a good idea of who is coaching and what their tendencies are. But I must admit I do not put very much time or effort into doing so.

    I would say it is a factor that I am conscious of, but doesn’t play enough into my decision making process as it probably should.

    • GoSooners GoSooners says:

      Pez…I think betting reguarly on bad coaches is one of the biggest money burners in college football. There are reasons why the Zooks, Wannstadt’s, Sherman’s, Shannon’s aren’t head coaches anymore. They were bad. And in most cases, bad bets. Yet week after week posters would come into my threads and tell me I’ll be sorry if I bet against their teams. Especially when their teams come into the season with any kind of hype.

      A good example of this was Texas A&M. They came into the 2011 season with quite a bit of hype. And were expected to challenge OU for the Big 12 title. This was all based on one good season (for A&M) in which there was absolutely no hype for the team and low expectations. But it was also a season that found many of the Big 12 teams being down or rebuilding in 2010, or had first year coaches. Combined with A&M playing 10 out of their 12 games in the state of Texas. There was no way the cards were going to fall the same way for them two years in a row. If they were going to live up to the hype, they were going to have to earn it with a head coach who could get them to play with a target on their backs. My feeling from the beginning of the season was Sherman wasn’t going to be up to the task.

      Sherman was a case in which I wasn’t going to give his team the benefit of the doubt on a bet unless I knew it was a great spot for them on their schedule. They had many of those spots in 2010. But no so many in 2011. The only really great spot that I bet on A&M all season was coming home against Baylor after a tough two game road stretch against Arky and TT.. That was an incredibly good spot for the Aggies after playing those two games down to the wire.. And it was one of only 3 times they covered the spread all year! So you would have definitely been burning your money otherwise by betting on Sherman.

      The reason I’m using Texas A&M so much in my comments is because they are a perfect example of a poorly coached team who is going to win a game every now and then when they are in terrific spots on their schedule. But are going to break your heart time and time again when they are expected to win or cover. Badly coached teams seldom win when we need them the most. Well coached can win “despite” the odds. And play their best ball when their backs are against the wall. Just look at Texas A&M’s last game of the year against their hated rivals Texas. A game that the fans wanted the team to win more than any game they’ve ever played at A&M. A game played at night in College Station with a packed house in front of a national television audience. The Aggies were favored by 8 , and end up losing the game straight up. THAT’S what bad coaches can do to you.

      I know I’ve already written too much on this subject. But bad coaching has burned me time and time again in college football. To the point to where I now mark each team with red flags if I think their coaching could hamper their team’s success. Here’s example #2 of how important I think coaching is: Do you remember when Brian Kelly was absolutely tearing it up in the Big East. I remember in his last year after he had won the Big East the year before, his Cincy team lost virtually every defensive starter off of that team. He had only 1 returning starter on defense. And his team was picked to finish no better than 4th in conference. Trouble is, that conference was loaded with some very average to very bad coaches. With Kelly being the only shining light. That team not only won the conference again with basically no defense, they beat Wannstadt’s Pitt team on the road as favorites with everything on the line. That was Wanny’s best team. THAT’S the difference between good and bad coaching. If you were going to take a team to win a game with no defense playing on the road, that was the spot. And it was ONLY because of great coaching.

      • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

        I can concur. I don’t even want to contemplate the number of times I lost betting on Wannstedt and Zookie.

        You could have written a follow up post with all that A & M information.

        Speaking of needing to know your coaches before placing your wager. I read this article yesterday by Berry Tramel (from your neck of the woods) about how Stoops doesn’t like to divulge injury info because it only helps OU’s opponents and gamblers.

        • GoSooners GoSooners says:

          Pez…I could really write much more on coaching. There is just so many variables involved in today’s college game. And most of them revolve around the head coach. From successful recruiting, to assistant coaching hires, to gameday coaching, to simple things like lockeroom pep talks. A HC in today’s game truley does have to be like a CO. And there are many coaches that are just not cut out for the job. Especially in divison one BCS football. As for Bob Stoops, it’s never been a secret around here that he doesn’t reveal all of the injures to his players. But in many ways I don’t blame him. What happens if say you have one deep threat WR on your offense, and he gets hurt. How much do you want to reveal to your opponent before the game in preparation for OU’s offense? A team could and probably would play a much different defense on you if they knew you didn’t have a real deep threat on offense that can hurt you. You can be more agressive if you know the game will be played within a 20 yard window. This is what Stoops means by not revealing his injuries to the bigtime bettors out there. He wants to keep his injuries as much of a mystery as possible. And many times he’s gone as far as to close his practices to the public to keep from revealing too much about players who are practicing and the ones who aren’t. Of course Stoops isn’t the only one who does this. He’s just one of the most well known.

  2. Kiel says:

    Handicapping coaches is very important. Good coaches and good programs are always better bets than bad coaches and bad teams. That is just a fact.

    • GoSooners GoSooners says:

      I’ll definitely be writing some more on this subject in the future. One more thing I wanted to say about the Big East and their coaches. Have you noticed that since the best and most dominant coach Brian Kelly left the conference, that it has pretty much become a free-for-all with no dominant teams? It wasn’t just a coincidence that this happened. The conference was filled with basically a bunch of average or inexperienced coaches with average teams. “Or” a higher than average number of new coaches. There was only three coaches in BE conference who had coached a BCS team beyond one year! And that was Schiano (11 years, no Big East titles) and Marrone (2 yrs. experience), along with Pasqualoni (experienced but 1st year with new team). In turn did you notice that there were very few point spreads over a FG that were covered by the favorites this past season? No dominant coaching equals no dominant teams. And that’s why the conference title basically came down to a tiebrekaer, with WV winning the tiebreaker with Cincy because of their measly 3 point head to head win. Does anybody think that if Kelly was still coaching in the Big East this would have happened? I know i don’t. Coaching is HUGE in college football.

      • sabertstxvii says:

        I frequently use to cap my coaches. Great guys that have every stat imaginable for college coaches. You should check them out.

        • sabertstxvii says:

          Sorry, the URL is:

          • GoSooners GoSooners says:

            sabertstxvii, I used this site for the first time last season. And I agree, it’s a great site. I also used many of the links that were connected to the site such as Beyond The Bets and Crystal Ball Run. The hottest and coldest win/loss streaks of the coaches was also very helpful to me last season. I haven’t seen a site quite like this. And it’s right up my alley.

            saber, thanks for coming by and leaving your comment.

          • sabertstxvii says:

            check out too. All good stuff and helping spread the wealth of knowledge.

            Also, on your RX forum in the CFB section, I posted about twitter, and included all of their twitter “handles” and they are great to follow as well.

            99 days!

  3. Jack says:

    It looks like this Coaches By The Numbers site has shifted their business model. They no longer sell subscriptions, and it looks like they’ve scrubbed the product clean of ATS info so as to make it palatable to athletic department types they’re trying to pitch it too.

    I know that TeamRanking has sortable ATS records, but I would love to see this site put together some “trip notes” to augment when an ATSM was as indicative as its magnitude. Also would love to see the site start keeping track of coordinator successes in adjusting to 1H and in-game situations.

    These coordinator ratings would definitely have to be more of a trip notes than a power rankings thing. Anybody got any idea for how to start organizing this information?

    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      Hi Jack, thanks for the comment. CBN has definitely shifted their business model. They had a great free database that was available up through about May 2013, then they took it down.

      A iist of coordinator rankings is a great idea, but as you point out, organizing and keeping track of them could be an issue. has a pretty good coaching database that lists coordinators, but they do not have the specific information you are seeking.


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