In preseason, coaching record does matter

Aug 12, 2003 5:23 AM
A popular theory with NFL handicappers regarding preseason games is to focus on coaches and back the ones with a good historical record.Here is our assessment of whether this view is valid. Our data sample uses preseason games played from 1997-2002 (a six-year span). The next step was to classify coaches by their past results and rate by category good and bad "straight-up" percentages. Excellent ”” 65%+ win rateGood ”” 50% to 64%Poor ”” 36% to 49%Bad ”” 35% or lessNew ”” The first season with a new teamIn dealing with figures "against the spread," there is some modest predictive value in a coach’s historical preseason record. The top group hits 52%, the bottom group 46%. Meanwhile, newcomer coaches lend a hand to a team’s preseason chances.Here are some other observations. Coaches with BAD preseason records, are bad bets as favorites. Bets against them were 41-24 (63%). Coaches with POOR records are 32-18 (64%) in away contests. Teams with new coaches have been outstanding as dogs, especially at home. But on the road, they are below average. At this point we are looking at coaches in isolation, rather than comparing the two coaches in a given matchup. Coaches rated "excellent" are 15-8 in matchups against "bad" coaches. Of course that’s a mere handful of games and could easily look different over a larger backdrop of years. Nonetheless, it would seem wise to keep in mind the coach’s history when laying down a preseason wager.Here’s the 2003 NFL coaching class groups (based on preseason W-L records).Excellent: Spurrier (Washington: 80%), Gruden (Tampa Bay: 75%), Edwards (N.Y. Jets: 75%), Billick (Baltimore: 73%), Shanahan (Denver: 72%), Belichick (New England: 69%) Good: Reeves (Atlanta: 64%), Vermeil (Kansas City: 63%), Sherman (Packers: 58%), Cowher (Pittsburgh: 55%), Davis (Cleveland: 50%), McGinnis (Arizona: 50%), Callahan (Oakland: 50%), Tice (Minnesota: 50%) Poor: Wannstedt (Miami: 46%), Fisher (Tennessee: 45%), Haslett (New Orleans: 41%), Jauron (Chicago: 38%), Holmgren (Seattle: 38%), Martz (St. Louis: 38%) Bad: Williams (Buffalo: 33%), Schottenheimer (San Diego: 33%), Reid (Philadelphia: 33%), Fox (Carolina: 33%), Fassel (Giants: 32%), Capers (Houston: 20%) New: Mariucci (Detroit), Parcells (Dallas), Erickson (San Francisco), Lewis (Cincinnati), Del Rio (Jacksonville). Some of the "new" coaches are of course NFL veterans, but for this analysis we treated every coach as new when getting a fresh start. TwoMinuteWarning.com features innovative statistical coverage of the NFL to help you win. Roland Beech can be reached at [email protected]Âí­warning.com.