Arcane CFB preview.

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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.

Johnathan Dowling/WKU.  One of Taggart’s finds, Dowling started at Florida and somehow wound up at Bowling Green.  We’re not asking questions.  We’re just going by what we see and we see a big, difference-making, athletic, game-changing force on the field.  Dowling is a player you notice; he’s a difference maker.  See if he doesn’t pick off a pass against UK in the opener.

Terrance Broadway/ULL.  Simply the latest in the athletic spread offense QB who needs to work on his accuracy.  Stop me if you’ve heard that before.  Whatevs.  All I know is EJ Manuel is starting for the Bills, so much for college accuracy.  Broadway’s much smaller than the prototype (he’s 6-1) but he looks big on a SunBelt field.  Very fun to watch.

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Big Derek Carr fan here.

Not a player but, Jeff Jagodzinski.  Former BC HC, got fired for interviewing with the Jets.  That’s in spite of ranking between Chip and Brian Kelly in Football Study Hall’s ‘maxing your talent/coaching effect’ analysis.  Welp, he’s OC at rookie Sun Belt school, soon-to-be-FBS football program, Georgia State.  Thus Georgia State is on our radar as likely value.

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Mountain West players I like.

Derek Carr/Fresno.  No idea why he’s not in the convo for top QBs.  He looks the part whenever I watch him.  Love that he and Tim DeRuyter (10-1 ATS last year) get another year together.

Chuckie Keeton/USU.  This will be Keeton’s third year as starter.  If you look at his freshman game logs, he was kinda crap starting out.  Last year though, he owned that team and the OT win over Utah was his game.  Obviously losing Gary Andersen to Wisconsin is a thing but USU’s new coach is lucky to have his field general established.

Who’s David Fales/SJSU?  I mean I watched SJSU last year… didn’t notice anything special at QB.  Not in Carr’s class, imo.  Not as sparky as Keeton.  “Concerns about wobbly deep ball might pigeonhole Fales as a quarterback who needs to be in a West Coast system to succeed in NFL.”  Don’t get the fuss.

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A pretty good bet on the road.

Not a player but, Chris Peterson/Boise.  It feels like he’s been forgotten.  I never hear about him.  But… day-umm.  84-8 career record.  I mean, cmon.  His recent ATS is pedestrian: 18-16.  But Boise away = 13-4 ATS over the last three years.  So much for the smurf turf.  You figure it that one out; I’ll be looking for opportunities to play Boise away.

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ACC players I like?  The ACC can eff themselves.  Don’t play the ACC.  

Take your Frank Beamer and your Georgia Tech and your Tarheel-player-suspension-coach-chasing league with your faux sleeper (Duke) and sleeping giant (Miami) and go play hoops and hand your trophy to really-wishes-it-were-in-the-SEC FSU now.  This is the ACC.  Just know that betting on Beamer is pain and betting against Beamer is pain also.  Logan Thomas will always do the least with the most; don’t fool yourself that you’re in front of any curves with him.

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Pac-12 players I like.

Ka’Deem Carey/Arizona.  If there were Fantasy NCAA Football, Carey is the consensus top pick.  Love watching him run.  He’ll be that guy you take in the third round because he only ran a 4.45 and RBs shouldn’t be drafted high.  Then he’ll lead your team to the Super Bowl.

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Marcus Mariota/Oregon.  If you make me draft a college QB today, I draft Mariota.  It’s that simple and actually not a close call for me.

Anthony Barr/UCLA.  Still my favorite gif.  This is a hell of a 2014 NFL draft when Anthony Barr is someone’s consolation prize for missing out on Clowney.

Not a player but, Todd Graham/ASU.  I did name the addition-by-subtraction award after him.  The Erickson-Burfict team he took over was utterly pathetic.  I became a fan of Brock Osweiler in Erickson’s last game because Osweiler was the only one on the team who gave a crap.  Anyway, ASU is building on a good season with a good returning QB, Taylor Kelley.  I’m liking the Sun Devils … what the hell, I’ll take the Sun Devils for the Pac-12 South.  I’m not the only one.

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Should I do MAC?  Ok, really quick MAC likes.  

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Wenning is a 6-4 QB at Ball State; the 8-2 ATS in 2012 Ball State.

Not quite sure the Vegas value plays will be there in the MAC now that the sharps have a fully-staffed Hustle Belt to access.  But here are some guys who have caught my eye.

Keith Wenning/Ball State.  This, I admit, is based on what I’ve read, not what I’ve seen.  But if Ball State has a prototype sized QB with some talent, and a made-up athlete last name,  (Wenning sounds like ‘winning.’)  that just smells like a cover machine right there.

Khalil Mack-Alex Neutz,-Brandon Oliver/UBuffalo.  If I weren’t still sour on UB’s coach Quinn I’d like even more Bulls.

Terrence Owens/Toledo.  Never liked the platoon with Owens and Dantin, but I understood it.  Owens was raw but showed flashes of awesome.  I could see this as his year.  Even though he rated a ho-hum #25 in HustleBelt’s top 64 MAC players, I like him better than Fluellen (#5) and Reedy (#8).  He’s the key to Toledo’s year.  I think he shows up.

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I might get to the other conferences but today just wanted to share some of what I’m reviewing in advance of Cheddar Bay.  By all means, if you’ve got takes we should know about… comment away below.

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Other notes:

NFL Preview from an accomplished handicapper.  If you want a top-notch NFL preview, check CLEVTA’s post:  NFL Preview, Picks and Predictions.

Comprehensive twitter list for CFB and for MAC-specific CFB.  Athlon’s twitter list is good; Hustle Belt’s definitive MAC twitter list may be better.

Looking for Pac-12 reports?  FishDuck is running a series of posts on Pac-12 teams currently with their Pac-12 Examiner.  I just learned about a minor Sarkisian melt-down in practice; the Beavers’ QB ‘battle; and there’s a Wazzu take-down in the queue.  All reports have a delightfully snarky Oregon Duck perspective — wholly enjoyable.

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