2015 NCAAF Preview: Best and Worst ATS Coaches

The 2015 College Football season gets underway on Thursday night with a slate of nineteen games including a battle between North Carolina and South Carolina and Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverine debut as Michigan travels to face Utah.

Bettors can view the latest odds, public betting trends and injuries by visiting our free NCAAF odds page, however, we wanted to provide bettors with the best trends and analysis before the new campaign kicks off.

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Earlier this off-season we determined which teams were being overrated in the most recent AP Top 25, examined game of the year lines and explained how bettors could find value in our latest betting against the public report, but many readers have been asking about how coaching impacts College Football lines.

Using our Bet Labs software, we were able to find the best and worst coaches against the spread (ATS) since the start of the 2005 season. These records, which are graded based on closing lines from Pinnacle, includes both regular season and bowl games.

Best Coaches

Coach Team ATS Record Winning Percentage Units Won ROI
Bill Snyder Kansas State 55-33 61.6% +17.57 20.4%
Gary Patterson TCU 73-52 58.4% +17.35 13.9%
George O'Leary UCF 73-52 58.4% +17.33 13.9%
Hugh Freeze Mississippi 34-16 68.0% +16.46 32.9%
Urban Meyer Ohio State 67-49 57.8% +15.62 13.5%

Worst Coaches

Coach Team ATS Record Winning Percentage Units Won ROI
Doug Martin New Mexico State 33-55 37.5% -23.57 -26.8%
Rich Rodriguez Arizona 53-70 43.1% -19.40 -15.8%
Joe Glenn South Dakota 17-31 35.4% -15.46 -32.2%
Bill Cubit* Illinois 40-51 44.0% -13.11 -14.4%
Mike London Virginia 26-35 42.6% -10.60 -17.4%

Five of the six most profitable coaches to bet all-time are currently active, however, the best ATS coach in our database hasn’t been on the sideline since 2010. Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was 51-23 ATS (+25.25 units) before resigning amid NCAA violations and looming sanctions prior to the start of the 2011 season.

Doug Martin actually is the worst head coach in our database, but most of these underachieving coaches are unemployed. In order to determine the five worst active coaches, we had to ignore 16 inactive coaches including former Notre Dame coaches Charlie Weis (37-52, -16.77 units) and Tyrone Willingham (17-30, -14.12 units).

While these lists represent the best coaches to bet or fade, it is not necessarily indicative of the nation’s best coaches. We wanted to know which coaches were best at making in-game adjustments, so we opted to examine the best and worst ATS coaches for second half bettors.

Best 2nd Half Coaches

Coach Team ATS Record Winning Percentage Units Won ROI
Bill Snyder Kansas State 55-28 66.3% +22.37 27.0%
Gary Patterson TCU 74-48 60.7% +19.66 16.1%
Les Miles LSU 74-52 58.7% +17.50 13.9%
Jerry Kill Minnesota 40-19 67.8% +17.26 29.2%
Larry Fedora North Carolina 53-33 61.6% +16.32 19.0%

Worst 2nd Half Coaches

Coach Team ATS Record Winning Percentage Units Won ROI
Doug Martin New Mexico State 34-55 38.2% -22.08 -24.8%
Tommy Tuberville Cincinnati 45-60 42.9% -18.42 -17.5%
Kirk Ferentz Iowa 52-67 43.7% -17.98 -15.1%
Nick Saban Alabama 46-56 45.1% -14.27 -14.0%
Chris Petersen Washington 47-56 45.6% -13.13 -12.7%

It was fascinating to see that Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and TCU’s Gary Patterson finished as the first and second most profitable head coaches for both full game and second half bettors. It was also interesting to see that Brady Hoke, who was recently fired by Michigan and replaced by Jim Harbaugh, was the third most profitable second half coach with a 69-45 ATS record and +18.27 units won.

Also, bettors should take special notice of Minnesota’s Jerry Kill. Although he’s only the fourth most profitable head coach in terms of units won, his 29.2% return on investment (ROI) is tops among all coaches with at least three years’ experience. It’s also interesting to point out that Minnesota has gone just 25-26 straight up (SU) during his tenure.

Doug Martin, the worst coach for full game bettors, has also been the least profitable for second half bettors. Despite a 29-53 record (SU) in seven seasons at Kent State, Martin was able to land another FBS coaching job prior to the 2013 season. However Martin has been woeful posting a 4-20 record in his first two seasons. Bettors may want to savor fading Martin this season, since it very well may be his last.

One potentially surprising name for bettors is Alabama’s Nick Saban. The two-time Coach of the Year and four-time National Champion has gone just 46-56 ATS during the second half of games, but Tide fans shouldn’t overreact. Alabama is one of the most popular teams in the nation and their lines are typically shaded by oddsmakers to adjust for an influx public money. Factor in that they are often coasting with large leads by halftime and it becomes more apparent why Alabama wouldn’t be a great bet on the second half line.

We would like to stress that it’s not advisable to simply bet on the top performing coaches every game as past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns. Instead, we would suggest considering the ATS record of each head coach as one piece of the puzzle alongside sharp money indicators like reverse line movement, steam moves, and many other trends we have discussed on this blog.

Have any questions for the staff at Sports Insights? Utilize our live chat to speak with a customer service representative or e-mail us at help@sportsinsights.com.

David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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