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February 9, 2007
Coaching Blackjack: Who has a winning hand?
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As a frequent visitor of blackjack tables, the idea for a theme occurred when the count of new Division I football coaches reached 21.
Like every new coach, each hand is a potential winner. So, it seemed like a good idea to use blackjack as formula for a creative ranking system.
Double down on a coach that is expected to win immediately. Stand pat with a coach that figures to be successful, but might not be a big winner early. Take a hit on a coach that … might take a few hits.
Getting a proven coach that inherits talented players is like getting an ace as an up card. But whether the players he inherits can adjust and perform in his system is the hole card. The odds might be good, but it remains uncertain until actually played.
It was a perfect metaphor. That is, until a recount revealed there were actually 22 new coaches - then 23 after Army's Bobby Ross retired. That spawned a sick feeling – kind of like when you draw a face card after hitting on 13.
Alas, the theme didn't work.
Or did it? On second thought, it worked after all. So often when I'm counting on 21, I seem to inevitably end up with 22 or 23 while floundering at the tables.
Here is a look at the 23 coaches taking over different programs and how I would play their hands.