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NCAA Football Coaches: College Football Handicapping

Betting on College Football Coaches

Doug Upstone

For those that love to wager on college football, it comes in handy to know certain tendencies of the head coach. Though virtually every coach could care less about the point spread on any game they are involved in coaching, word will filter down thru various channels that high-profile alumni with large bank accounts wouldn’t mind if the home team covered a spread against a particular opponent.


Though no task master will worry about such a trivial matter consciously leading into a contest, given the right set of circumstances late in a game with his team comfortably ahead, but not covering the spread, he might be inclined to run up the score.

Though there is no way to prove a coaches motive, in 1995 coach Tom Osborne of Nebraska had the No.1 team in the country heading into last regular season conflict against Oklahoma at Lincoln. The Cornhuskers were monstrous 34-point favorites and basically was toying with the Sooners, leading 30-0 late in the game. In the final drive, Nebraska went for a first down THREE times on fourth down and eventually scored a touchdown to cover the spread, with 37-0 shutout.

If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it.

Another example was 2008 when Florida hosted Miami in Gainesville. The Gators were 23-point favorites against the Hurricanes and that night despite dominating the action, led just 23-3 in the final minutes. Urban Meyer could have easily run out the clock deep in Miami territory, but instead had Tim Tebow throw two passes towards end zone before settling for field goal and a Push.

Most bettors might know about the head coach where they reside or even the coaches within the conference.

Only a select few would be able to recall all the different variables from all the head coaches in the FBS.

Here is a breakdown of the top coaches in several areas based on latest runs. (Coaches only at present school)

Coaches with best home ATS records

Troy Calhoun – Air Force 11-4
Kevin Sumlin – Houston 8-2
Chris Ault – Nevada 23-9
Chris Peterson – Boise State 14-7
Urban Meyer – Florida 18-10

Worst –Rodriguez – Michigan 4-9, Dodge – No. Texas 4-9

Notes– The most common denominator about all five of these winning coaches is they are offensive-minded in their approach. Each does it a little differently, yet they all have their own unique style that allows them to separate from others within their given conferences and it permits those betting on sports to have more confidence. Calhoun, Peterson and Meyer look to be the most trustworthy since they have defenses that can also help. This won’t be the last time you see Rich Rod mentioned as Play Against candidate.

Coaches with best road ATS records

Bo Pelini – Nebraska 9-3
Art Briles – Baylor 8-3
Rick Stockstill – M.T.S.  15-6
Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech 10-4
Houston Nutt – Ole Miss 8-4

Worst –Rich Rod-Michigan 2-7, Fairchild – CSU 3-9

Notes– What every college fan that participates in football betting likes is a tough-minded team that they can trust as a visitor. Invariably, the point spread will be fairly low catching or handing out points in this role and a select few coaches consistently know how to prepare a team for this type of battle. Pelini and Nutt tend to be more emotional, while the other three are business-like in their approach. It doesn’t matter how it gets done, everyone just wants a coach and team that gives them the best opportunity to cash winners.

Coaches with best favorite ATS records

Troy Calhoun – Air Force 13-4
Rick Stockstill – M.T.S. 15-6
Mike Gundy – Okla. State 19-9
Chris Ault -Nevada 27-15
Jim Tressel – Ohio State 54-38

Notes- Any one head coach that can make this list has different qualities. It’s is particularly impressive as football oddsmakers know whom these individuals are and are shading a point or more towards their teams in this particular role. To be able to make this group the team has to be well-prepared and giving effort that exceeds the norm. Curious to watch how Gundy does since the cupboard is rather bare at Stillwater. Two Big Ten coaches make the wrong list, with one more familiar here and with the NCAA rules committee.

Worst –Rich Rod-Michigan 2-9, Fitzgerald – Northwestern 4-12

Coaches with best underdog ATS records

Butch Davis – UNC 11-5
Al Golden – Temple 20-12
Mike Price – UTEP 20-13
Jim Grobe – Wake Forest 33-19
Frank Beamer – Virg. Tech 50-34

Worst –Sherman –Texas A&M 4-9, Gundy – Okie State 9-18

Notes– Some coaches on the gridiron just have a knack for selling their squad on playing their best as underdogs. They use every cliché imaginable, “circle the wagons”, “us against the world”, “nobody respects us”, you name it, and they find a way to convince young men to play better than what the linemakers and public perceive they should. Coaches Golden and Beamer will not have many chances to be placed in this position, but they are certainly reliable. Cannot help but notice that how good Gundy is a favorite, yet he is equally as bad as an underdog, which might tell you a little bit about his ability to be a front-runner and maybe not much more.

Best coaches Off a SU Win, ATS records

Al Golden – Temple 12-5
Rick Stockstill – M.T.S 19-7
Frank Solich – Ohio U. 19-9
Troy Calhoun – Air Force 16-8
Chris Peterson – Boise State 28-16

Worst –Stewart – West Virg. 6-11, Roberts– Ark. State 11-25

Notes– The two biggest surprises on this list are Stockstill and Solich. If Middle Tennessee State can win the Sun Belt Conference and have another bowl win, a bigger payday at a larger university might be in coach Stockstill’s future. Coach Solich doesn’t bring in great recruiting classes to Athens, yet he maximizes the talent on hand and has them believing they should contend for MAC crown each year. Head coach “smiley-face” Stewart hasn’t met a game that his team can’t find a way not to cover. Coach Roberts at Arkansas State flies under the radar with his Arkansas State team terribly up and down.

Best coaches Off a SU Loss, ATS records

Urban Meyer – Florida 7-2
Jim Tressel – Ohio State 12-5
Bob Stoops – Oklahoma 15-7
Randy Edsall – UConn 31-16
Mack Brown – Texas 15-8

Worst – Fairchild-CSU 3-10, Rich Rod- Michigan 3-9

Notes– Tried to keep this to minimum of at least 10 games, but coach Meyer does not fit this category often, but he has his teams VERY prepared following a defeat. It should be noted four of the five top coaches on this list have won a national championship. Coach Edsall’s character was proven after UConn player Jasper Howard was tragically killed last season. Here is a hot rumor gaining quiet momentum.

If the Jacksonville Jaguars have the kind of season as expected, Jack Del Rio will be fired, and Edsall is on very short list right now to be the next guy.

Another Rich Rod sighting.

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  1. Very interesting stats. Must have taken you a while to round that up. Thanks for the read.