Alabama Crimson Tide head coach, Nick Saban, has been with the Tide for 10 seasons and 137 betting-lined games. This article highlights some meaningful betting tendencies of Alabama teams coached by Saban.
y 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 Alabama’s head coach, Nick Saban.
Nick Saban has been the head coach at Alabama since 2007, which means we have a perfect 10 seasons of betting data at one school. What is more, when Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, he already had a National Championship in tow (from LSU), so his reputation as a premier college football coach was established. Because of those factors, I see no need to delve into Saban’s betting record at LSU; data from his tenure at Alabama should suffice.
Coach Saban’s overall against-the-spread (ATS) record at Alabama is 75-62 (54.74%). It is important to note that anything greater than 52.38% is profitable in the standard college football betting realm of bet-11-to-win-10, so Saban has been profitable at Bama despite the perennially-high expectations. In fact, Alabama has been ranked in the preseason AP top three for the past seven seasons – proof of extraordinarily-high expectations, and expectations drive betting lines.
With expectations so elevated, it might be tempting to dismiss Saban’s Crimson Tide as continually-overvalued and a prime candidate for betting against. Betting data, however, might suggest otherwise. There are three compelling bet-on spots with Alabama under Saban worth highlighting.
First, in away games (defined as games played in another team’s home stadium or non-bowl/non-playoff neutral-site games), Bama under Saban has beaten the spread 61.11% overall, and that includes going 5-1 ATS in that category in 2016. Second, in-conference (SEC) games, Saban at Alabama is a very profitable 57.47% overall (through 87 games), but that only tells part of the impressive story; Saban has not had an unprofitable ATS SEC season since 2010. His ATS record in SEC games over the past six seasons is 35-19 (64.81%)! Third, Nick Saban has his teams prepared to start each season: The Tide have gone 9-1 ATS in their first game of the season since Nick Saban has been their coach.
Even a profitable ATS coach like Nick Saban has spots that tend to be bad. In Coach Saban’s case, he has not done well ATS as a huge favorite. In games where Alabama is favored by at least 35 points (and there have been 21 of them under Saban through 10 seasons), their ATS win rate is an abysmal 33.33%, and that includes that identical win percentage (33.33%) in 2016.
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.