Bobby Petrino Firing: The 10 Biggest Scandals in Modern SEC Football History
Let’s start this off with a bit of harsh reality. The SEC has been involved in more scandals than you can count. Looking at just modern SEC history, 10 scandals stand out.
The conference has battled the image of cheating as it has risen to the top of the college football world. As much as fans would like to ignore the scandals that are so apparent, it has reached a level of impossibility.
Well SEC fans, let’s have a little fun. It is time to pick out the 10 biggest scandals in modern SEC history.
The Hog Ride
Of course we start here. Bobby Petrino has done something that a number of folks have done, unfortunately.
When you make mistakes, you get fired for them if they reach this magnitude. It comes with the stage that is college football, and the greatest conference that competes at the collegiate level.
What has added to the flames is Petrino’s sheer stupidity by hiring his lover into a position within the athletic department. Even worse, he hired her into the football program.
The guy made a litany of bad decisions that have led to the public destruction of his character. Too bad he couldn’t keep his Hog rides to a minimum.
Houston Nutt as Anchorman
Houston Nutt is a charismatic coach who rubs everyone the wrong way when you listen to him speak. He is a little too erratic for most folks' taste, bringing an unmatchable energy to a conversation.
Houston Nutt is a talker—it comes natural for him to want to dive into the news, right? Well, he didn’t exactly dive into the news, but he did have an allegedly inappropriate relationship with local Fayetteville news anchor Donna Bragg.
It all started with Hogs fan and message-board poster Thomas McAfee wondering why "his" coach would not defend a news article written about then-quarterback Mitch Mustain. Searching through records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, McAfee found a strange phone-records pattern between Nutt and Donna Bragg.
For the first time in history, a message board poster had done the unthinkable. McAfee laid the foundation for a college coach losing his job.
Once the connection had been made, the walls began to fall. A message-board poster had pulled back the curtain on an alleged scandal that no one saw coming.
The Death of a Salesman
Do you remember Logan Young? You know the former Alabama booster who fell up the stairs to his death? Yes, fell UP the stairs—at least that is what the police report says happened in a not-so-clear way.
Young was made famous for his booster donations to a Memphis high school head coach in an attempt to steer Albert Means to the University of Alabama.
Means was shopped by his coach Lynn Lang to the highest bidder, which just so happened to be an Alabama booster. When the case was settled, sanctions were levied and the Alabama coach Mike Dubose had been fired. The Tide also received scholarship limitations along the way.
Logan Young was convicted on a host of federal charges from his involvement in the case. His death remains mysterious to this day, and will always be a topic of conversation among SEC football fans.
The Cam Newton Recruitment
Cam Newton was easily the most electric football player to take to the college football field in recent memory. Newton was on a different level than his opponents, but he was also publicly crucified more than any of his opponents.
I have not personally witnessed a deeper character assassination in sports than the one that happened to Newton. Unfortunately, there was a bit of impropriety that was uncovered.
In the heart of the national title run with Auburn, rumors began to swirl around Newton and his recruitment to Mississippi State. Reports were released stating that former Mississippi State assistants and a booster had contact with Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, about payments for his signature with the Bulldogs.
Auburn was investigated and implicated by numerous media outlets, but the NCAA found no wrongdoing by the Tigers' athletic program or anyone representing their interest.
Before the conclusion of the investigation, parking tickets and academic records were among the things that were leaked in an attempt to prove that Newton lacked moral character. As goes SEC football.
Jordan Jefferson and His Kicks
Jefferson and fellow Tigers teammate Josh Johns were suspended after a bar fight broke out in August of last year. Jefferson missed the first four games of the season, but returned to win back the starting quarterback position for the talented LSU team.
LSU looked unfazed by the suspension and eventual return, finishing the regular season undefeated and with a win over eventual national champion Alabama.
Jefferson’s actions and suspension were by far the most compelling news during the slow news-free months that lead to opening day for college football.
The Auburn Four
Four Auburn football players changed their lives for the absolute worse when they attempted an armed robbery in Auburn in March of 2011.
Among the alleged robbers were starting safety Mike McNeil and backups Dakota Mosley, Shaun Kitchens and Antonio Goodwin.
Gene Chizik immediately dismissed the four from the football team, stemming from the allegations stating in an interview with the Opelika-Auburn News that "playing for Auburn University is an honor and a privilege. It is not a right."
The arrests shook the foundation of a program that was built from day one by Chizik on honor and integrity. The four made terrible judgments and faced the consequences.
The trial for the alleged robbery has started with Antonio Goodwin in court this week. With witnesses like Michael Dyer listed on court documents, this could continue to gain interest nationally as it unfolds completely.
South Carolina and the Case of Discounted Rent
The Gamecocks have received the least amount of press surrounding NCAA major infractions that I have ever witnessed. Granted, a lot of breaking news is hitting the fan in college football, but the Gamecocks have quietly gone about their business of major infractions admittance without much notice.
The Gamecocks admitted to $55,000 worth of improper benefits and surrendered six scholarships over the next three years among other self-imposed penalties, according to an ESPN.com report.
The Whitney Hotel in Columbia, South Carolina was host to the student athletes and offered improper benefits. The hotel was found to have offered a rate of $14.95 per athlete per night for room stays. The NCAA determined that the charge should have been closer to $60, according to the ESPN report.
This has been lost in the fold of allegations that have taken center stage in college football today, but they are severe infractions for the Gamecocks.
The Alabama Textbook Salesmen
Books anyone? The Alabama Crimson Tide went before the NCAA infractions committee in 2009 to face allegations of improper benefits received by student-athletes through textbook and study materials.
Alabama self-reported the violations after they were found, imposing suspensions and penalties to the players who were involved. The investigation uncovered that a university employee found a student had over $1,600 worth of credits in their student account. When confronted, more came to light.
Alabama made all the right moves to squelch the access to improper benefits, but what made the case such a big deal was that Alabama could have faced repeat offender status. Alabama was on probation from 2002 stemming from the Albert Means case when this investigation began.
In the end, the Tide was forced to vacate wins and was placed on extended probation.
The Jackie Sherrill Lawsuit
Jackie Sherrill was a coach with a reputation. He would do anything to build a winning team, and he did just that at Mississippi State. When Sherrill took over the Bulldogs program in 1991, they had not had a winning record in six years.
Rather abruptly, Sherrill resigned from the Bulldogs' head coaching position in 2003 and decided to retire from the game of football. Sherrill had raised the Bulldogs program from the ashes, but most thought he did so without much integrity.
After his resignation and retirement, an NCAA investigation was launched into allegations of improper benefits and recruiting tactics deployed during Sherrill’s tenure.
After a three-year long investigation, the NCAA found no wrongdoing by Mississippi State or Sherrill. Sherrill is now suing the NCAA and a former Ole Miss booster, who he claims conspired to end his career in coaching.
Urban Meyer’s Health Issues
This is the biggest joke of the college football world. If Urban Meyer has health issues, I speak Swahili. Well, I don’t speak Swahili, and I find it hard to believe that Meyer left Florida for health reasons.
To further solidify that point, the Sporting News recently released an article describing the disarray that Meyer left the Gators' locker room in.
At this point, this is the newest scandal that has hit the press wires in the SEC. It isn’t one that surprises the masses, unfortunately. Meyer, according to the report, lost control of the team and allowed players to make decisions that are absolutely unacceptable.
The article points to an inner circle of players who were looked after by Meyer. No matter their misgivings, Meyer would protect them from the public eye.
What this has done for Meyer is open up a wound that he thought had disappeared. It has also provided the SEC with its most recent scandal in the great sport of football.
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