Ranking the Most Arrogant Coaches and Programs in College Football
To be successful in the college football world, a certain amount of arrogance is required.
But some coaches take ego to a whole new level, and some programs excel at arrogance in a way that causes the rest of the nation to simply shake our collective heads in disgust.
The thing that makes this arrogance so insidious is probably the fact that these coaches and programs became arrogant because of their wild success over the past several years, winning trophy after trophy and escaping any truly demoralizing or embarrassing defeats.
So which coaches suffer from the most inflated egos? Which programs have their players major in arrogance? Let's rank the most arrogant coaches and programs in college football today.
Arrogant Coach: Bobby Petrino
Let's get things started with an obvious choice for arrogant coaches.
It takes a special kind of man to carry on a double life, so to speak. Having pretty much everything anyone can ask for—a great job and a loving family—apparently wasn't enough for Petrino. He had to have a mistress, too.
By now, we all know the story of his firing.
Petrino's arrogance was on full display during his press appearance after the motorcycle accident that began his downfall. Appearing clearly bruised and in a neck brace, Petrino opted to wear his 2011 Sugar Bowl hat.
Does anyone believe think that wasn't a less-than-subtle way to remind the fan base—and his bosses—about all he's done for the Arkansas football program?
It didn't work.
Arkansas decided it was better off without a man who clearly thought of himself before anyone else, and Petrino was fired.
Arrogant Program: Ohio State
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The culture of corruption and institutional rule-breaking was on full display for the world over the past year and a half.
In the state of Ohio, there are two sets of rules. One for everyday folk, and one for Ohio State football players. Like medieval aristocracy, Buckeye football players have walked around Columbus exempt from many of the rules that govern the rest of the college football world, and no one—not even the president of the university—questioned it.
In fact, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee actually said, “I'm just hoping that the coach [Tressel] doesn't dismiss me,” when asked in early 2011 if he had thought about dismissing Tressel.
While a laugh line, Gee was only half joking.
Phillip Morris from Cleveland's The Plain Dealer hit the nail on the head when he said in March 2011 that Gee's joke was “nothing less than despicable.”
This isn't the first time Gee's mouth has gotten him in trouble. He's been a consistent supporter of the “haves” in college football, at the expense of the “have nots,” claiming schools like TCU play the Little Sisters of the Poor every week, not like the “murderer's row” of a Big Ten or SEC schedule.
But before you go thinking it's all Gee's fault, remember that he was hired for the job—and shockingly remains in the position—because God forbid any scandal would ever rock Ohio State that high up.
Still, you can't help but shake your head in disgust at a president and program that expresses disappointment in the NCAA for leveling a relatively minor sanction of one year's postseason ban for a systemic problem of repeatedly breaking the rules.
And just for the record, there is a school with a football team called "O-H-I-O," and it's not in Columbus. It appears Buckeyes fans forgot how to spell S-T-A-T-E.
More Arrogant Coach: Bo Pelini
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Coaches come in many different varieties, and we've certainly seen a lot of fiery guys over the years.
But Bo Pelini takes the cake when it comes to uppity coaches. Whether he's belittling one of his players or berating an official, Pelini clearly has it in his head that he's always right and anyone who disagrees with him either doesn't know what he's doing or is involved in some grand conspiracy against Nebraska.
Look. We all get mad at the refs from time to time. They're human, and mistakes are made. But there's a difference between screaming at our television sets and screaming on millions of television sets around the nation. Pelini's antics during the game have brought the wrong kind of attention to the Cornhuskers program.
Perhaps instead of blowing up at officials or his own players, Pelini should try a different method to winning games: scoring more points than the other team.
More Arrogant Program: Southern California
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The recent lean years at USC have been brought on by nothing more than USC's own arrogance.
Of course, we're using “lean” here in a loose sense, because the Trojans have still been pretty darn good. But with a two-year postseason ban, the Trojans haven't been piling up the hardware like usual.
As USC reenters the land of law-abiding programs, you can bet that the Trojans will be winning conference titles and bowl games in no time, and national championship runs won't be far off, either.
We've yet to see how well the culture of utter corruption has been cleansed from the USC program, but even if the Trojans stay squeaky clean from here on out, you can bet that the arrogant, cocksure, gloating USC fans will be back to their old selves in no time.
It might also help if the marching band learned a new song every now and then. We get it. You know how to play Fight On, Tribute to Troy and Conquest (which was ripped off from a 1947 movie, Captain from Castile).
Maybe with those cliché sunglasses, the band can't read any new music.
Most Arrogant Coach: Nick Saban
If you were Nick Saban, you'd be arrogant, too.
After all, wouldn't you feel a little entitled if your bosses erected a bronze statue of you right out front of your workplace while you're still an employee? That's exactly what Saban got at Alabama.
Of course, we're not too sure what makes 'Bama fans love him more: winning national titles or doing it against LSU, where Saban used to coach.
Saban isn't the sunniest of guys on his best days—winning days—but when Saban is upset, watch out.
But as long as he's winning, Alabama—a program known for its more-often-than-occasional flirtations with the rule book—he's going to be the head coach, come hell or high water.
Which brings us to our next topic...
Most Arrogant Program: Alabama
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It's not every program that will erect a bronze statue of a guy still employed as the head coach, especially when he's only been there for a relatively few number of seasons.
But beyond the clear love the program shows to its head coaches, there's really no type of arrogance like inventing national championships to claim.
Alabama, with the 2012 BCS National Championship, now claims 14 national titles. In comparison, the Crimson Tide has been awarded just eight AP championships, and in the 14 claimed title years, Alabama was selected by a majority of awarding organizations just six times.
While several of the claims can be considered questionable, at best, the best example of dubiousness comes with the supposed 1941 and 1973 claims.
In 1941, the Crimson Tide were beaten twice, while Minnesota finished with an undefeated seasons and claimed every meaningful national championship selection. The only system that selected Alabama was the Houlgate System. In the final AP poll, Alabama finished No. 20, and just ranked behind five other teams from the SEC!
Yet Alabama fans still cling to the 1941 title like a life preserver on a sinking ship. If Alabama fans truly want to hold onto that 1941 title, perhaps they could also explain why the Houlgate System ranked Alabama at No. 3 following this past season's BCS National Championship Game (LSU was No. 1 and Oklahoma State was No. 2).
In 1973, then-No. 1 Alabama met then-No. 3 Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Notre Dame won the game and was given the national championship selection by every major selector of the day, except the lone poll that still handed out the national championship before the bowls were played.
Alabama claims the title, but Notre Dame proved to be the better team that season on the field.
Claiming 14 national championships at Alabama is a little like Princeton claiming to be the best college football program ever because they have claim to over 20 titles—more than any other program.
There's no doubt that Alabama excels at football these days, but there's also no doubt that Alabama excels at an overabundance of pride, too.
Lifetime Throwing-Away-Your-Achievements Award: Jim Tressel & Pete Carroll
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Since we've been talking about arrogant programs and coaches, it wouldn't be fair not to mention two of the most arrogant coaches in recent memory.
First, Pete Carroll was at the center for the Reggie Bush/USC pay-for-play scandal, and his actions (or lack thereof) led directly to the NCAA finding lack of institutional control at USC.
Not only did Carroll know what was happening with Bush while he was at USC, he actively tried to stonewall the NCAA once the investigation began.
Carroll, like a true rat, fled the sinking ship for the NFL rather than remain and take responsibility for his program.
Similarly, Jim Tressel led Ohio State to slaughter with his own cover-up of “Tattoogate.”
Tressel, nicknamed “The Senator” for his polished public appearance and diplomatic approach to everything, should have known that any good politician will tell you that it's not the crime but the cover-up that kills you.
Not only was Tressel proven to be a weasel, but his self-aggrandizing resignation letter only served notice that he didn't believe he did anything wrong—the pinnacle of hubris.
Thankfully, the NCAA slapped Tressel with a five-year “show cause” penalty.
Not-so-Honorable Mention: The Southeastern Conference
Finally, how could we live with ourselves if we didn't mention the SEC as a whole?
Even all you great SEC fans out there have to admit that you've been particularly insufferable over these past few seasons.
Sure, a team from the SEC has won the BCS National Championship for six consecutive seasons, but it's really not God's gift to football. If God really wanted to bless us with the SEC's presence, it's likely He would have built in some humility, too.
Proverbs says “Pride cometh before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” At this point, we're just worried that when that inevitable fall does come, crisis hotlines in the South may be overwhelmed.