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How Do Teams Perform After Firing Their Head Coach? Mickey Joseph Leads Nebraska vs. Oklahoma

How Do Teams Perform After Firing Their Head Coach? Mickey Joseph Leads Nebraska vs. Oklahoma article feature image

Mickey Joseph during the Aer Lingus College Football Classic 2022 match between Northwestern Wildcats and Nebraska Cornhuskers at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Nebraska football begins a new era on Saturday.

Former Nebraska head coach Scott Frost was fired Sunday after losing to Georgia Southern and starting the season 1-2. Passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph was named interim head coach.

If you're a bettor, the question's obvious: How do teams perform after firing their head coach?

Well, we dove into the numbers as Nebraska prepares to welcome No. 6 Oklahoma to Lincoln this weekend.

Nebraska vs. Oklahoma will be one of the weekend's marquee games and bettors are already getting in on the action.

Can Nebraska Improve without Frost?

As of Tuesday evening, there are more than 6,000 bets on Nebraska vs. Oklahoma tracked by Action Labs. The next closest game, for context, has 3,500.

The spread peaked at Oklahoma -16, but that line has been bought down to Oklahoma -11.5. It appears the smart money has been landing on Nebraska since the open.

So why are bettors relying on Nebraska with Joseph at the helm?

"The quantitative impact of losing Scott Frost is a difficult thing to estimate," says Action Network's college football betting analyst Stuckey.

"However, I’d have to imagine it can only be a positive based purely on his on-field decision making and just the overall vibe of the team I was sensing, which, in fairness, is truly subjective. Nebraska lost more one-possession games than any other team by a wide margin during the Frost era."

There is no way of quantifying it, but many believe Frost held his team back with his in-game decision-making, especially in close games.

However, during Frost's tenure, Nebraska failed to win the games it should've won, but actually fared well against the spread as an underdog. The Huskers were 12-8-1 ATS as an underdog under Frost.

Nebraska vs. Oklahoma Betting Analysis

After opening at Nebraska +16, sportsbooks could be regretting posting that number.

The money has rolled in on the Huskers and many, including Stuckey, believe the number is still too high.

"Personally, I think this line is way too high," Stuckey said. "The opener north of two touchdowns was outrageous, but I still like catching double digits here. Coming into the season, I projected Nebraska as a tiny favorite (yes I’m dumb, we all know) and the lookahead line was recently OU -5."

"Now, Nebraska does get a severe downgrade after losing at home to Georgia Southern, but this is a bit of an extreme — especially since I think Nebraska will rally around a new, interim coach.

"Plus, let’s not act like OU didn’t trail 3-0 in the final minutes of the first half to Kent State last week. I’m using it more as a subjective positive factor, especially in the first game after [Frost's] departure."

How Teams Have Fared in First Game After In-Season Coaching Change

It's not a rare occurrence to see a coach get fired in the middle of the season. Last season, there were four FBS head coaches fired with six or more games left on their schedules.

Looking back at 2021, there were 12 FBS schools that either fired their coach or mutually agreed to part ways before the end of the season.

In that first game with a new head coach, teams went 6-6 ATS and 4-8 straight-up. When looking at just Power 5 programs, those teams went 4-3 ATS and 3-4 SU in their first game with an interim head coach.

Across the entire season, teams went 26-32 ATS with an interim coach in 2021.

There is something to be said about a team playing better in the first game with a new coach, but not enough for there to be a betting angle.

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