Interim Head Coaches Records in Bowl Games
- 14th Dec 2015
- Adam Burke
Last Updated: 2017-03-06
Interim head coaches are one of the most challenging elements of the bowl season. Bettors are forced to read between the lines and figure out whether or not a team is going to focus during the prep period or play out the string. Will the new head coach get the team fired up? We’ve seen some great stories and some rousing speeches and we’ve seen some disasters that end with a whimper.
Coaches are constantly on the move in college football. Some smaller programs are simply a feeder system for Power 5 Conference schools and they are replacing coaches yearly or every couple of years. Others have been fortunate to have stability. For a lot of these kids, stability is important. Going away to school can be challenging and coordinators, position coaches, and, if you’re good enough, head coaches are going to have a profound impact on a student-athlete’s life, pro prospects, and decision making. Recruiting implications and decommitments are one thing, but the bowl game itself is another.
We’ve been tracking the results for interim head coaches during bowl games dating back to 2003-04. The data may surprise you. It may not. First things first, let’s look at the programs that will head into the bowl games with an interim head coach:
Houston – Houston is the most obvious example. Tom Herman left for Texas. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando is technically the interim head coach, but offensive coordinator Major Applewhite was selected as the team’s new head coach. This will be a collective effort from guys that will likely stay together next season. As a result, after Applewhite’s hiring, some sharp players moved on Houston to bump the number from -3 back up to -3.5 or -4.
Indiana – This one is a little bit tricky. In terms of this season, this is the only game that Tom Allen will serve as the head coach. He’s already been given the job, though. So, he’s an interim head coach in the sense that it falls into the same category as the past ones, but he’s going to be around next season.
South Florida – Willie Taggart made the move from Tampa to Eugene as the new head coach of the Oregon Ducks. Taggart’s departure may coincide with jumps to the NFL for quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Marlon Mack. TJ Weist will serve as the interim head coach for this game, but it’s unlikely that he will be retained. South Florida hired Charlie Strong and he has plenty of assistants to bring along with him. How will the Bulls step up for Weist? That’s a big question.
Temple – Matt Rhule, surprisingly, took the job at Baylor. He’s putting together a strong support staff with Lone Star State roots, but his former team will go with Ed Foley as the interim head coach. Temple hired Geoff Collins, former Mississippi State and Florida defensive coordinator, so Foley is probably not going to be retained. How will the Owls respond? They already have a tough situation in that they won the AAC, which is the “Sixth Power Conference” and they play a 6-6 Wake Forest team in Annapolis, where they just won the AAC title.
Western Kentucky – Jeff Brohm took his offensive attack to Purdue, so defensive coordinator Nick Holt gets his crack as a head coach. Mike Sanford is the new head coach at Western Kentucky and he is the youngest coach in FBS. He’s unlikely to retain Holt, so it will be interesting to see how the Hilltoppers get geared up for this game. They take on another exciting, young coach in Mike Norvell, whose brother Jay was just hired at Nevada.
Keep in mind that we’re solely looking at interim head coaches here, but a lot of programs have had their coaching staffs pillaged either by the ex-HC, a new hire poaching talent, or a program in need of a replacement. All of that can negatively impact the bowl prep period for a team. It’s distracting and for a lot of these players, human beings that were made promises that won’t be fulfilled, it can be very disheartening.
There have been 17 head coaching changes out of the 128 FBS teams this season, but these are the only five that were bowl-eligible. The others, just for your reference, are Baylor, Cincinnati, FAU, FIU, Fresno State, Georgia State, LSU (retained Orgeron), Nevada, Oregon, Purdue, San Jose State, and Texas.
Is there an edge to be gained betting on or against an interim head coach? Every situation is different, but here is the data that we have tracked through the 2015-16 bowl season since 2003-04:
Bo Pelini (Nebraska): W 17-3 (-3, u49.5)
Charlie Strong (Florida): L 3-17 (+4, u55)
Kent Baer (Notre Dame): L 21-38 (+4, o51.5)
Mike Hankwitz (Colorado): W 10-19 (+10.5, u48)
Joe Kines (Alabama): L 31-34 (+1.5, o49)
Frank Spaziani (BC): L 25-24 (-8, o48)
Brian Kelly (Cincy): L 27-24 (-7, o41.5)
Jeff Quinn (CMU): W 31-14 (-8, u51)
Gary Darnel (Texas A&M): L 17-24 (+5, u52)
Reggie Herring (Arkansas): L 7-38 (+3, u67.5)
Bill Stewart (WVU): W 48-28 (+8, o61)
Joe Tenuta (Georgia Tech): L 28-40 (-6, o54)
Dewayne Walker (UCLA): W 16-17 (+6.5, u46.5)
Chris Thurmond (Houston): L 13-20 (+6, u57.5)
Ken Niumatalolo: W 32-35 (+8, o63.5)
Dabo Swinney (Clemson): L 21-26 (-2.5, u55)
Stan Parrish (Ball State): L 13-45 (+2.5, u70.5)
Ruffin McNeill (Texas Tech): W 41-31 (-7.5, o59.5)
Jeff Quinn (Cincy): L 23-51 (+12.5, o59.5)
Rick Minter (Marshall): W 21-17 (+3, u49.5)
Steve Stripling (CMU): P 44-41 (-3, o63.5)
Jeff Stoutland (Miami-FL): L 17-33 (-2.5, o48)
Phil Bennett (Pitt): W 27-10 (-4.5, u51.5)
Tom Matukewicz (NIU): W 40-17 (-1.5, o56.5)
Lance Guidry (Miami-OH): W 35-21 (+2, o48.5)
Tim DeRuyter (Texas A&M): W 33-22 (-9, u68.5)
Tom Bradley (Penn State): L 14-30 (+7, u55.5)
Vic Koenning (Illinois): W 20-14 (-3, u44.5)
Keith Patterson (Pitt): L 6-28 (-3.5, u48.5)
Mike Johnson (UCLA): L 14-20 (+3, u44.5)
Tony Levine (Houston): W 30-14 (-7, u55.5)
Matt Campbell (Toledo): L 42-41 (-3.5, o69)
Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin): L 14-20 (+2, u46)
Patrick Higgins (Purdue): L 14-58 (+17, o68)
Chris Thomsen (Texas Tech): L 34-31 (-13, o55)
Dana Bible (NC State): L 24-38 (+7.5, o52.5)
Steve Stripling (Cincy): W 48-34 (-9, o62)
Kent Baer (San Jose St): W 29-20 (-7.5, o46)
Rod Carey (NIU): L 10-31 (+13.5, u58)
Lance Guidry (WKU): L 21-24 (-6, u55.5)
John Thompson (Arkansas State): W 17-13 (-3.5, u64)
Clay Helton (USC): W 45-20 (-6, p65)
Marques Tuiasosopo (Washington): W 31-16 (-3.5, u65)
Bob Gregory (Boise State): L 23-38 (+3, u66.5)
Adam Scheer (Bowling Green): L 27-30 (-6.5, o49.5)
John Thompson (Arkansas State): W 23-20 (+7, u65)
DJ Durkin (Florida): W 28-20 (-7, u53.5)
Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin): W 34-31 (+6.5, p65)
Barry Cotton (Nebraska): W 42-45 (+7, o63)
Joe Rudolph (Pitt): L 34-35 (-3.5, o54)
David Gibbs (Houston): W 35-34 (+3.5, o54)
Dave Baldwin (Colorado State): L 10-45 (+2.5, u57)
Brian McClendon (UGA) W 24-17 (-6, u44)
Larry Scott (Miami) L 13-20 (+3, u62)
Darrell Dickey (Memphis) L 10-31, (+3, u64.5)
Jason Candle (Toledo) W 23-17 (+2, u49.5)
Brian Ward (Bowling Green) L 27-58 (-7, o63)
Dell McGee (Georgia Southern) W 58-27 (+7, o63)
Todd Orlando (Houston) vs. San Diego State – Las Vegas Bowl
Tom Allen (Indiana) vs. Utah – Foster Farms Bowl
TJ Weist (South Florida) vs. South Carolina – Birmingham Bowl
Ed Foley (Temple) vs. Wake Forest – Military Bowl
Nick Holt (WKU) vs. Memphis – Boca Raton Bowl
ATS: 27-30-1 (47.37%)
We’ll keep updating this after every season, but it seems like there isn’t anything really significant to gain from the data. Bowling Green and Georgia Southern faced each other last season. Pitt and Houston faced each other two seasons ago. It does appear like the under may carry some value at a 55 percent clip, but the sample size is only 56 games. Either way, it’s a huge part of handicapping the bowl season and now you have the data to make the most informed decision possible.