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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 1:01 PM

The All-Star Break is the perfect time to take a respite from baseball (outside of tying to win the side and total in the game itself!) and devote your energy to getting ready for the coming college and pro football seasons. Today I’m going to outline the key factors that Advanced Handicappers focus on during their summer preparations.

Now, don’t get the idea that you can do everything you need to do between now and Friday afternoon. Advanced Handicappers will be working up until kickoff to make sure they have all the angles covered. The most important thing for you to remember is that NOW is the time to get ready. Don’t wait until a couple of days before the Hall of Fame Game to think about the NFL. Don’t wait until the last Thursday in August for college football and then realize that the games start that night!

Aim to be ready by the end of July, so that you can then tweak your assessments based on injury news, NFL personnel moves, and college football suspensions.

Today I’m just going to present the basics for college and pro preparation. I’ll have a few more in-depth reports during the course of the summer. Most of you are just getting started right now. Here’s what you should focus on when you’re just getting started:

*REVIEW LAST SEASON. If you keep Power Ratings, dig up your final ratings from 2011 and use those as an offseason starting point. If you don’t keep ratings, grab a copy of the final college and pro standings and review what happened in the postseason. I wouldn’t spend too much time on this. Just enough to get your mindset back to where it was when football wrapped up several months ago. If this is your first go-round, you can take a shortcut by finding respected computer ratings on the internet like those published in USA Today or at a variety of sports sites.

*LIST HEAD COACHING CHANGES. New head coaches bring new approaches. There is no bigger individual factor in terms of a team changing course than a change at the top. Bad teams can get good without dramatic personnel changes if a bad coach is replaced by a good one. Good teams can get bad, particularly in the colleges is a proven winner gets hired up the ladder and the former team suffers a big downgrade at the position. Veteran coaches are known quantities…and Las Vegas oddsmakers are usually pretty good about having a read on those men and their teams. New coaches with new teams can be tough to figure out at first. This creates a window of opportunity that sharp handicappers can throw a rock through.

*LIST PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS FOR EACH TEAM. This is easy in the NFL because most everyone is back in their former positions. A few draft choices will crash the party this year (particularly at quarterback). For the most part, the impact players you were focused on last year will be the same guys this year. In the colleges, review returning starter information for all 124 board teams…listing the proven quantities at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver…and being aware of any media hype for incoming freshman or transfers. You regulars know I emphasize this element of play all year long in all sports. You don’t want to be trying to figure out in mid-October which team in a matchup has more playmakers. You want to be on top of things before the season starts…then adjust accordingly as injuries or new stars change the picture. It’s also worth noting that many of the biggest college MISMATCHES in this area happen in September when teams in power conferences are tuning up against non-conference patsies. Don’t you dare miss these games because you waited until September to start your analysis.

(Quick aside…some outside of the handicapping industry have wondered how men like me can know weeks in advance when I’ll be releasing a “Game of the Year” caliber selection. THIS is how! If you have the impact players outlined before the season starts, it’s just not hard at all to find blowout probabilities well in advance).  

That’s enough to get you started. I’ll talk about additional factors like changes in the assistant coaching ranks, schedule dynamics, and the motivation factor as we get closer to the season. Focusing on coaching changes and finding all the impact players for 124 college teams will keep you plenty busy during the All-Star Break.

Speaking of that, I do have a 25-Unit Parlay in baseball’s Summer classic right here at the website. If you’re reading this on Tuesday afternoon and you plan to watch the game, I hope you’ll join me for the side and total. This is also a great time to take care of business for this Fall’s Football. You can purchase my Preseason package for just $99, or a full season of the Football Investment Club for just $199.

My next lecture in my College of Advanced Handicapping will be Friday, as I outline keys to coming out of the gate strong in the second half of Major League Baseball. I’ll be alternating football and baseball through the summer. Again, I strongly encourage you to print out each of these articles so you can create a virtual textbook you can use year-round for guidance. I’m continually humbled by how many of you show up every week to study the coursework. And, I’m honored to be recognized as the “Dean of Handicapping” in the sports betting industry.  See you again on Friday.

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