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Feasting on Lame Duck Bowl Coaches

An unfortunate reality of college football is that the time when teams are preparing for their bowl games is also the time when teams are making coaching changes and looking ahead to their next season and beyond. That means that there are several football teams that go into their bowl game with uncertainty or change in their coaching situation. It could be that they have fired their coach. In that case they may have the lame duck coach around for the bowl game, or they may have an interim in place. In rare cases the newly hired coach will be in charge for  this game. It could be that a team has had success, so their coach has already been hired away by another team, or is in clear danger of being hired away soon. It could be that the coach was fired with a couple of games left in the season, so an uncertain interim situation has existed for weeks. Whatever the situation the fact is that there are several teams each bowl season that head into their bowl with less than an ideal coaching situation.

Whenever a coaching situation is in some sort of lame duck transition there is always a challenge for sports bettors – and potentially a whole lot of opportunity. The betting public is likely to assume the worst in highly publicized situations, and overlook situations that aren’t getting much attention. If you can find situations where the public reaction doesn’t accurately match reality then you can find nice value. Here are six questions  college football handicappers should ask to get a sense of the situation a team is facing:

Did the coach have control of the team before the change? – So much of coaching has to do with whether the players are buying into what the coach is trying to tell them. If the message is getting across and the football team is committed then anything is possible. If the football coach and the players are on different pages, though, then it is very rare that a team will be able to play up to their full potential. During normal circumstances the more a coach and a team are aligned the better from a betting perspective. When there is a lame duck, though, the opposite may actually be true. If a team didn’t particularly like or respect their coach then they are going to be less affected by the departure or uncertainty, and may actually feel a boost from the situation that translates to the football field.

When did the change happen? – The more time since the change has happened, the more likely that the team has had the time to get used to the situation, come to terms with it, and accept what has happened. If the change happened right after the regular season then the team has had a full set of bowl practices – and the time before those started – to get ready. If the changes happened later, though, or if there has been no change yet but the rumors are flying, then there is going to be more of a chance that the team will be at less than full potential in their bowl game and that cann affect how you bet on the game..

Has the change been controversial? – College football players are young. Because of that they often lack perspective, and they can be ruled by emotion far more than they should be. If the situation has been a particular controversial one – one filled with emotion, and one that has been played out in the media – then that could have a huge impact on the team and their capability going forward. If the change or potential change hasn’t been particularly high profile, though, or if the team doesn’t seem to be taking the change too hard, then the impact on the bowl game and how its bet could be minimal.

Who is next? – If the next coach has been named for a team then that could have a big impact for a team. If the new coach is a successful one who the players will likely be excited about then the situation could have a boost both because of their excitement about the game and because they will want to impress their new boss going forward. If the new football coach is less impressive, or if several high profile coaches have already turned the team down, though, then there could be a big impact on the confidence and play of the team.

What’s going on with the coordinators? – We spend most of our time in these situations looking at the head coaches. Because the coordinators and position coaches spend more time working directly with players than the head coaches in most cases, though, changes in coordinators or coaches can have more impact than a head coach change, but will get less attention in most cases. That means that there can be real opportunities for value in betting  if you pay attention to coordinator changes or potential changes and the impact that they could have.

How is the public responding? – As always in sports betting this is a question that needs to be asked. If the sports betting public is overreacting to a high profile situation then there could be nice value backing the team facing the change. If they are underestimating the impact of a change or potential change, though, then for  college football handicappers there could be nice value in the opponent. Before betting,analyze the situation in conjunction with the point spread and other factors.

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