Another Notre Dame 'Turnaround?'

Handicapping Tips From Legendary High Roller TONY SALINAS!


There's already been a lot of talk this summer about Notre Dame returning to their past glory under new head coach Brian Kelly.

Kelly took Cincinnati too a Big East title and a BCS Bowl last year. It's been a while since Notre Dame was in a BCS bowl, or seriously considered to be a national championship threat. So, Kelly is seen as a step up.

Of course, it's been a long time since Notre Dame was really all that relevant in the national picture. A couple of decades ago, and long before that too, Notre Dame was a perennial power that represented the best of college football. Most of today's young athletes have no idea that Notre Dame used to be the Florida or USC of its day. They've heard some of the stories maybe. But, they didn't see it with their own eyes. (It scares me to think about how many games I've seen with my own eyes during my long career!).

The last two 'new' head coaches for Notre Dame got off to very fast starts. I've preached for years that you should fade Notre Dame because the public always likes betting on them. You're getting two or three free points every time they take the field (sometimes more). Over the long haul, those points go right in your pocket. Well, over the short term after a coaching change, the Irish have been GREAT against the spread.

*In 2002, Tyrone Willingham's team covered its first eight games! They were 8-0 ATS after two months, but finished 1-4 ATS, then a poor 4-8 ATS the following season. So, that 8-0 ATS start that had the sports world abuzz crashed into a 5-12 ATS sequence that erased the profits for Notre Dame backers. Willingham went from the penthouse to the outhouse in the snap of a finger.

*In 2005, Charlie Weis almost matched that. Weis was 7-1 ATS to start the season, and you'd have thought he was Touchdown Jesus himself the way the media was talking. Weis was going to take the Irish to the Promised Land. College coaches just couldn't deal with a brilliant NFL assistant who knew how to teach football properly. Well, Notre Dame went 0-4 ATS to finish the season, then went 5-8 ATS in year two Under Weis.

Willingham: 8-0 ATS, then 5-12 ATS…in a crash and burn
Weis: 7-1 ATS, then 5-12 ATS in a crash and burn

What's Latin for Déjà vu? The Catholics weren't enjoying reliving that history.

What's going to happen under Brian Kelly this year? Well, I have to say that the summer hype has me thinking about history repeating again. Notre Dame and the media were optimistic about Tyrone Willingham (because he knew how to win at academic programs) and Charlie Weis (because he knew how to teach NFL caliber football). Kelly knows how to win conference championships. Notre Dame doesn't play in a conference, but plays a big time BCS schedule. They'll take 10-2 or 11-1 and a BCS bowl to be sure!

Over the long haul, I'm going to fade Notre Dame. I probably won't do that right out of the gate unless it's clear to my eyes in their first TV game (September 4th vs. Purdue) that the team isn't very good. There's a new quarterback, and a new schematic. That's either going to cause a transition headache…or it's going to cause big headaches for opponents if Notre Dame clicks right away.

If I see good stuff early, I'll just lay off Notre Dame games (or even back them at affordable prices) over the first two months. If I seen trouble early, I'll gauge the public influence on the Vegas line and take whatever free points I can get.

Just remember that smart handicappers and bettors have to go with the flow. Even if Notre Dame is the best 'bet against' team in the history of college football, there are times where they're able to overcome expectations. Willingham and Weis showed that new enthusiasm after a bad season often leads to pointspread success, at least for a couple of months.


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