Handicapping College Football Coaching Changes
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 08/13/2008
The offseason NCAA Football coaching carousel normally comes to a stop right around February and it usually sends shockwaves through the college football world. This offseason was no different with five coaches with 10 or more years of tenure at one school being let go or retiring and 18 coaching positions in total changing. Even though the changes happened months ago, bettors should still remember them when it comes time to make that first college football bet of the year.
Today we will look at what, if any, effect these coaching moves make for the teams and coaches involved for the upcoming season--especially the first week of the season--against the line.
Flashing back to the year 2001, some major coaching vacancies were filled by some big names including Rich Rodriguez taking over at West Virginia, Pete Carroll at USC, Les Miles at Oklahoma State, Jim Tressel at Ohio State and Urban Meyer at Bowling Green.
Only Meyer covered more times than not, going 7-3-1 against the spread. Rodriguez (4-7), Miles (4-6), Tressel (5-6-1) and Carroll (5-7) struggled overall including 1-3 ATS combined in the opening week.
Fast-forward to this year and Rodriguez is once again on the move after spurning his home state and alma mater to move on to Michigan by replacing Lloyd Carr. Not only did Rodriguez go 4-7 ATS in his first coaching stint at WVU but he also won four less games. His spread offense is specifically designed for a type of player that not many schools have on hand immediately. Yet Michigan remains ranked in the preseason Top 25 and will be a sucker bet all year long for the public "squares."
Last year 24 coaching positions changed and overall the teams went 132-156-4 ATS on the season including a 9-12 mark in the opening week.
A few programs scheduled D 1-AA teams to play in the first week and no lines were posted, therefore the overall opening week record will not always add up to the total amount of new coaches.
The only winning season first year coaches have enjoyed in recent memory was 2006 when new coaches went a combined 66-59-4 ATS and 4-2-2 in the opening week.
In the two previous years before that new coaches took their lumps and struggled, especially in the opening week. In 2005 23 new coaches went a combined 110-134-9 and 7-13-1 in the opening week. It was an opening week bloodbath for new coaches in 2004 with only Sylvester Croom covering the number at Mississippi State out of the 13 new coaches. Overall only J.D. Brookhart (6-5 ATS) at Akron and Mike Price at UTEP (8-4 ATS) won money on the year. Overall they were 63-79.
Unlike the NFL, when college coaches change jobs they almost always leave the conference and, typically, that means an entirely new brand of ball. Yet certain programs maintain a mystique about them unlike the NFL. Despite coaching changes, bettors continue to associate success with schools like Michigan, Nebraska and UCLA despite them all switching coaches this year.
This year some familiar names are on the move again. Paul Johnson is bringing his option running attack to Georgia Tech. In his first year implementing the offense with Navy his team went 1-10 straight up and 5-7 ATS. Expect the new look Yellow Jackets to be going up against some big numbers with early season trips to Boston College and Virginia Tech. Johnson's offense will have a hard time covering those numbers going up against the speed of the ACC defense verses his option attack.
Bobby Petrino returns to the college football ranks. His first time around in 2003 taking over a new job he went 5-7 ATS. Nebraska is also under new leadership. Last time things changed for the Huskers, Bill Callahan went 4-6 ATS in his first year. His replacement Bo Pelini filled in on an interim basis for then-fired Frank Solich in 2004 and he won the bowl game and covered the line. He takes over this year and the defensive-minded coach will have a lot of work to do but betting-wise the Cornhuskers could be a bargain for most of the season. They do not play a road game until Oct. 11, their sixth game of the season.
A lot of coaches have big shoes to fill at big programs and with the pressure on, don't expect the new guys to be taking you to the pay window in the first week of the season.