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How to Bet College Football Bowl Teams with Interim Head Coaches

Dec 12, 2018 11:07 AM EST

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Temple Owls interim head coach Ed Foley

  • Ed Foley will serve as interim head coach for Temple against Duke in the Independence Bowl (Dec. 27, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
  • Foley was the interim head coach for Temple in the 2016 Military Bowl, a game the Owls lost and failed to cover.
  • Using Bet Labs, we analyze the impact interim coaches have against the spread in bowl games.

Longtime Temple assistant Ed Foley will be the team’s interim head coach in the Independence Bowl (Dec. 27, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Foley is filling in for head coach Geoff Collins who left for Georgia Tech. Foley isn’t the only interim coach that will lead a team during a bowl game.

Mark Ivey will wear the interim tag when Appalachian State plays Middle Tennessee State in the New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 15, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN), and Frank Maile will command Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 15, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN) against North Texas.

Coaching is a tough job. Coaching under the interim tag, which implies temporary, is even harder.

Foley, for example, was the interim coach for Temple in the 2016 Military Bowl. The Owls were 10.5-point favorites and lost to Wake Forest, 34-26.

Was Foley’s performance the exception or the rule? More importantly, what does this mean for bettors this bowl season?

To analyze the impact of these coaching changes, we compiled a list of every interim signal caller that coached a bowl game since 2005.

Thanks to Dave Congrove at for the assist on tracking the coaching changes.

There have been 58 bowl games with an interim coach since 2005. In those games, the replacement coaches are 28-30 straight up (SU) and 27-30-1 (47.3%) against the spread (ATS), per Bet Labs.

There isn’t much of an edge betting or fading these teams.

Here are the results broken down by favorites and underdogs:

It is a small sample, but interim coaches that are underdogs have underperformed. In bowl games, underdogs win games outright at a much higher rate than they do during the regular season.

During the regular season, underdogs have won 24% of games outright since 2005. In bowl season the pups have gone 171-286 (37.4%) SU and 239-218-6 (52.3%) ATS.

Why do underdogs with an interim coach perform worse? One theory is that if a team is getting points, it likely has inferior talent and a coaching change only increases the disadvantage.

Bottom line, there isn’t much of an edge to be gained by targeting bowl games with an interim coach.

Here is each bowl game in our sample and the betting results. If we missed a game, please let us know.

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