Coaching Turmoil Hurts Mediocre Bowl Teams by Kelso Sturgeon

I wanted to wait until after my 50-unit release on Kansas State over UCLA was in the books before talking about today’s topic. If you watched the game, you know that UCLA was on the wrong end of a coaching mismatch in Tuesday night’s Cactus Bowl. On one side of the field, an interim head coach biding his time until a more famous guy takes over. On the other, a Hall of Fame legend who knows how to prepare for challenges.

I would have had Kansas State as a big play even if Josh Rosen had been able to play for UCLA. When his own doctors ruled him out, that made the Wildcats from the Big 12 a gift. Despite a slow start, they won the second half 28-0 on the way to an easy cover against a pointspread that was 7-10 points too low. My pick won rushing yardage 344-69.

This isn’t the first time a team in the middle of a coaching change played poorly in a bowl. You’ll recall the same thing happened to Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl that was played right here in my adopted home town. At least UCLA played a good first half Tuesday night! Oregon was down 28-0 until Boise State handed them two free touchdowns with bad turnovers.

Now, I don’t want you to think that a coaching change around bowl season means an automatic loss for a team. There are instances where:

*A “rally ’round the flag” mentality develops
*Star PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS get the job done anyway
*Talent is so deep, and the assistant coaches so good, that it doesn’t even matter
*The prior coach was so hated that players are thrilled about the new guy

You’ll note that both Oregon and UCLA weren’t able to use their top PLAYMAKERS because Royce Freeman of Oregon and Josh Rosen of UCLA were held back for the NFL. Freeman made the choice on his own. Rosen was reportedly acting under doctor’s advice…but many believe his “team” of handlers discouraged his participation very aggressively. Those two Pac 12 teams weren’t deep, and weren’t well-prepared to compete for 60 minutes of game action.

What’s more likely in these “coaching turmoil” situations is:

*Teams are poorly prepared
*Play calling is spotty at best
*Players lack motivation because they just want the season to end
*Opponents have had a month to find weaknesses they can exploit
*Weather or poor turf conditions make it even harder for a mediocre offense to execute

Your homework for today here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting is to go through the rest of the schedule to list which teams are dealing with coaching turmoil. That may be obvious because you already know about a high-profile change that’s been in the news. But, it may be more subtle. Perhaps a coach will be on the hot seat NEXT year because this season was a disappointment. The players aren’t all that enthused about this particular bowl under a coach who hasn’t been getting the job done. The administration isn’t ready to fire the coach yet even though it should be done.

Also, make a list of the high end…well-coached teams who are in a stable situation…and who have a track record of good bowl performances under this coach. Too bad Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney are facing each other again! Those two currently reflect great coaching and program stability. Who else on the upcoming schedule is at least in the neighborhood?

Maybe you won’t find any coaching mismatches along the lines of Bill Snyder vs. Jedd Fisch. You will at least find some potential value bets. And, you may find that the coaching angle complements factors that you were already considering for a big bet. Maybe a 25-unit play becomes a 50-unit play. Maybe a 50-unit play becomes a 100-unit play.

 

Some very exciting football is about to begin. Let me be the first to wish you Happy New Year because we won’t talk again until 2018.

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