In a perfect world, as relates to sports, our emotions should probably be driven by primal reactions -- love, hate, winning, losing. Geography certainly plays a role. My hometown team is playing its archrival, I should want them to win because they're my team.
It should all be very simple and basic.
However, the world is not perfect. The world is harsh. The world is material. And money, dammit, money matters. So sometimes sports is about money, it's about investing, and the emotion behind whom we root for is not driven by the color on the jersey, but instead by green.
As Bobby "The Brain" Heenan would say, the lettuce.
And that's why the list I'm about to share with you is probably the most accurate depiction of my "favorite head coaches in NFL history" ranking.
The good folks at Football Perspective took the time to go back and compile a list of every NFL head coach since 1978 and his performance against the spread. Holy kudos, Batman!
To a gambler, this list is the sweet nectar, and probably feels like it should be brought down from a mountain somewhere (probably near Las Vegas) on stone tablets by a man with a long beard. (The skies opening up and the sun beaming down would be a nice touch as well. Also, a choir wailing in the background.) I mean, if you're wondering who the favorite coaches are for degenerates, this is the list.
Truth be told, there are multiple ways you could rank "performance against the spread." You could do it as a winning percentage, or you could factor in longevity. (And again, the nice thing about the list that Football Perspective compiled is the list can be interactively shuffled to reflect those criteria.) For our purposes, the list below boils down to merely "What is the net number of wins ATS that a coach has compiled in his career?"
It's a fancy way of saying, if we bet the same units on every game, who's won the most units since 1978?
Here is that list, with some running commentary from me along the way. Enjoy!
1 Bill Belichick +40 2 Bill Walsh +30 3 Dick Vermeil +23 4 Tom Coughlin +23 5 Marty Schottenheimer +23 6 Mike McCarthy +22 7 Bill Cowher +22 8 Joe Gibbs +22 9 Andy Reid +20 10 Bill Parcells +20
SP: A Top 10 summary for you -- so if you need a reason to like Bill Belichick, and let's face it, reasons to like him are not all that easy to find, here's a GREAT reason -- if you bet on his teams through the years, you're probably independently wealthy! (Okay, or you could afford a nice seafood dinner, depending on the size unit you play.) Also noteworthy -- of the top ten coaches of all time, eight of them have won Super Bowls, and the two who haven't are two of the most notorious postseason chokers in league history. Also, props to Mike McCarthy for compiling his +22 ranking in less than a decade as a head coach, the only one in the top ten to do so.
11 Jeff Fisher +19 12 George Seifert +18 13 Dan Reeves +18 14 Tony Dungy +16 15 Jim Harbaugh +14 16 Pete Carroll +13 17 John Harbaugh +12
SP: What are the odds that Jim Harbaugh emailed this list to Pete Carroll and his brother John just to be a dick? Actually, I take that back, and counter my own question with "What are the odds Jim Harbaugh knows how to use email?"
18 Wayne Fontes +12 19 Jimmy Johnson +12
SP: Go ahead and lock this one up -- this is the only list EVER involving coaching on which Wayne Fontes will be tied with Jimmy Johnson. EVER.
20 John Fox +12 21 Brian Billick +11 22 Tom Flores +11 23 Jim Mora +11 24 Chuck Knox +11 25 Marv Levy +11
SP: Yes, Levy haters, Super Bowls are included in this compilation. Stop being jerks!
26 Bruce Arians +10
SP: Gamblers should LOVE Bruce Arians, as he's compiled a +10 in just one year as a full-time head coach and one year as an interim head coach. He's like the Russell Wilson of head coaches to degenerates!
27 Mike Smith +10 28 Dom Capers +10
SP: Let's just say Capers is the best of the Texans' two only full-time head coaches in franchise history. Get comfy, Kubiak backers....
29 Dick Jauron +10 30 Sean Payton +9 31 Jack Pardee +8 32 Ron Rivera +7 33 Bobby Ross +6 34 Mike McCoy +5 35 Buddy Ryan +5 36 Chuck Noll +5 37 Raymond Berry +4 38 Ray Perkins +4 39 Forrest Gregg +4 40 Mike Ditka +4 41 Joe Philbin +3 42 Rex Ryan +3
SP: Kudos to the Ryans for being a father/son duo with positive net gambling stats. That's a sign of good stock. I don't have a Punnett Square to prove it, but I believe covering the spread is a dominant gene!
43 John McKay +3 44 Chuck Pagano +2 45 Butch Davis +2 46 Jack Patera +2 47 Dave Wannstedt +2 48 Mike Holmgren +2 49 Jim Caldwell +1 50 Neill Armstrong +1 51 Walt Michaels +1 52 Dennis Erickson +1 53 Jon Gruden +1 54 Doug Marrone 0 55 Chip Kelly 0 56 Greg Schiano 0 57 David Shula 0 58 Ken Whisenhunt 0 59 Mike Tomlin 0 60 Marvin Lewis 0 61 Don Shula 0
SP: Props to the Shulas for both being exactly break-even! I think, in a weird way, that's even harder to do than their both finishing positive as the Ryans did. Wow! (And as long as we are on this father/son theme, no sign of anyone from the Phillips family as we start to plunge into the negative territory, which I also like to call hell.)
62 Bud Grant -1 63 Romeo Crennel -1
SP: I'm way more blown away that Romeo Crennel was only -1 than I am by Bruce Arians's +10. I would've guessed -10 for ol' RAC.
64 Mike Tice -1 65 John Mackovic -1 66 June Jones -1 67 Leslie Frazier -1 68 Mike Sherman -2 69 Eric Mangini -2 70 Ray Rhodes -2 71 Tony Sparano -2 72 Darryl Rogers -2 73 Jack Del Rio -3 74 Jim Haslett -3 75 Art Shell -3 76 Dan Henning -3 77 Monte Clark -3 78 Rich Kotite -3 79 Joe Bugel -3 80 Jason Garrett -3
SP: As we round the -3 turn, names like Shell, Kotite, Bugel, Garrett...please, please, please, don't tell me that gambling numbers aren't an indicator for anything. Great coaches not only win, but they exceed expectations in doing so. Bad coaches are just bad.
81 Herman Edwards -4 82 Gene Stallings -4 83 Gus Bradley -4 84 Rob Chudzinski -4
SP: Subtle props to Chudzinski for compiling his -4 in one season.
85 Dennis Green -5 86 Lovie Smith-5 87 Jerry Glanville -5 88 Gary Kubiak -5
SP: HOUSTON, REPRESENT! Glanville and Kubes, back to back!!
89 Jerry Burns -5 90 Bart Starr -5 91 Chan Gailey -5 92 Tom Landry -6
SP: Wow, Tom Landry down here with all of these guys?!? This would be like Robert De Niro showing up in one of the American Pie movies.
93 John Robinson -6 94 Jim Schwartz -6
SP: Tom Landry tied with Jim Schwartz!!
95 Mike Nolan -6 96 Mike Munchak -6 97 Dennis Allen -6 98 Marc Trestman -6 99 Jim Fassel -7 100 Leeman Bennett -7 101 Sam Rutigliano -7 102 Brad Childress -7 103 Vince Tobin -7 104 Jim Mora -7 105 Mike Shanahan -8 106 Wade Phillips -8
SP: Okay, in the father/son "covering the spread" picnic, we've located Wade Phillips. Now where's Bum? BUM! Where are you?!?
107 Don Coryell -8 108 Ron Meyer -8 109 Marion Campbell -8 110 Ray Malavasi -9 111 Barry Switzer -9
SP: I hope that one Super Bowl from Barry helped take the sting out of his teams never covering the spread, Cowboy Fan.
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112 Norv Turner -10 113 Sam Wyche -10 114 Ted Marchibroda -10 115 Dave McGinnis -10 116 Jim Hanifan -13 117 Steve Mariucci -14 118 Bruce Coslet -14 119 Lindy Infante -14 120 Mike Martz -15 121 Joe Walton -16 122 Bum Phillips -17
SP: Welp, we found Bum. Dammit, I just can't bring myself to hate Bum Phillips, though.
MORAL OF THE STORY: If Bill Belichick is the best at something and Bum Phillips is the worst at that same thing, then obviously proficiency in that skill is inversely proportional to likability.