Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has been with the Seminoles for seven seasons and 95 betting-lined games. This article highlights some meaningful (and potentially profitable) betting patterns of his teams.
In 2016, (by Amazon’s metrics) I wrote a #1 best-selling book in sports gambling (and two other categories). It was entitled The Betting Black Book, Winning Sports Betting Data on All FBS Coaches. In it, I utilized 10 years of synthesized college football betting data. The aim of the book was to reveal profitable tendencies that could be gleaned from a head coach’s history with his current team. With the understanding that no sports-betting model or system is 100% correct (or even close to that), the data-driven sports betting analyst is compelled to dwell in the world of tendency, not certainty. It is with that understanding that I have continued my research into coaches’ tendencies. For this article, I have fixed my focus on Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Fisher has been the head coach at FSU since 2010. Only 19 current FBS head coaches (14.62% to be exact) have been with their teams for longer. By college football head-coaching standards, this provides a relatively large sample size of betting-lined games to consider.
Fisher’s overall against-the-spread (ATS) record at Florida State is 51-44 (53.68%) -- a modestly profitable figure, since anything greater than 52.38% is profitable in the standard college football betting realm of bet-11-to-win-10. Expectations drive betting lines, so one of the (preseason) metrics I like to use to quantify expectations is the Preseason AP Top 25. Since expectations for FSU are always high, Fisher’s teams have been ranked in the Preseason AP Top 25 all seven seasons he has been with the Seminoles. When those rankings were in the Top 10, Fisher’s Seminoles finished the season with an average ATS win rate of 47.76%. When FSU was ranked outside of the Top 10, Fisher’s Seminoles finished the season with an average ATS win rate of 67.86%. The difference is startling. Even though this article is being written well before the release of the 2017 Preseason AP Poll, it would be quite surprising if FSU was not ranked in the Top 10 (so bettor beware).
In The Betting Black Book, one of the categories I found worth noting was how a coach fared ATS in the first game of the season. Despite the perennially-high expectations for Florida State, (as indicated in my book) Fisher is one of the best first-game-of-the-season coaches in the FBS. He is now 6-1 (85.71%) ATS in those season-opening games. The Noles open the 2017 season as 5.5-point underdogs on college football odds against likely No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 2 in Atlanta.
The first game of the season is unique because expectations have been marinating for an entire offseason, and coaches have more time to prepare for their opponent than any other opponent on their schedule. The preparation aspect piqued my interest in researching a conglomerate category in The Betting Black Book that I called Total Preparation. That category included any game for which a coach had at least 10 days to prepare (without having to play another game in the interim). That category included the first game of the season, bye weeks and bowl games. Fisher won 65.22% of those games ATS (3-0 in 2016).
Coach Fisher’s teams excel in another area that is sure to confound the contrarian bettor in all of us: In Florida State home games, the betting majority is right to an astonishing degree. Whether (at least 60%) the public betting is on FSU's side or its opponent’s side, that majority has been correct (i.e. they won their bet) 81.48% of the time! If, therefore, history were the guide, then the prescription would be to bet with the majority in FSU home games.
While the type of trend-betting highlighted in this article might leave some sports bettors skeptical, my researching more than 11,000 college football betting matchups has suggested that there are meaningful trends in college football betting that can be revealed by specific circumstances. Understanding the tendencies of teams under the profound influence of their head coach can help the college football bettor profit.