You ever notice how college football fans are divided on issues such as who has the best tradition, the most impressive uniforms, the finest coaching, the most outstanding team, and whether there should be a playoff system?
There is another issue to debate: What team from what year is the most disliked of all?
We are not talking about eras of programs here. That matter has been discussed previously.
No, this is regarding what single year of what team is the most detested—to identify particular teams in the past who have literally driven opponents and fans nuts.
Everyone can name their rival as being the worst offender. That is not where we are headed in this discussion.
We need to reach out for a consensus of what teams the entire nation would agree were disliked on another level, and who is actually the worst.
To be reasonable in our analysis, let us focus on the past 25 years of 1983-2008.
We should add one final proviso to the conversation: The team in question must have received their "comeuppance" during the season and failed to win the National Title.
10. 2001 Nebraska Cornhuskers
An undefeated team going into the final game of the season, the Cornhuskers had made a usual show of touting their powerful running game, as they outscored their 10 foes 413-127.
Then, the clock struck midnight.
First, Colorado destroyed the unbeaten Huskers 62-36. Chants of "over-rated" thundered throughout the stadium.
Secondly, Nebraska was somehow chosen to be sacrificed to an-all powerful Miami team in the Rose Bowl, supposedly a BCS match of No. 1 versus No. 2.
The hoofbeats of the Nebraska running game failed to survive that game, 37-14.
Almost all of fandom still wonders how Nebraska got into the 2001 national title game.
9. 2006 Ohio State Buckeyes
While fans in the Buckeye state admire their sweater-wearing coach, the rest of the nation loves to see him wincing on the sideline.
There is just something about watching him tug at his chin, straighten his collar, and look down at the ground when something goes wrong that opponents enjoy.
What went wrong with the unbeaten '06 Buckeyes was the agreement to face Florida for the BCS title.
Although the Buckeyes had the pedigree to play in the game after winning all 12 regular season games by a cumulative margin of 436-125, what they faced in the Gators was a totally different animal from many of their hulking regular season foes.
The competitive part of the game lasted around 10 minutes, actual time. The final score read Florida 41, Ohio State 14.
8. 1989 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
A recipe for being disliked could hardly be better concocted.
Take the behemoth program of all programs. Put the snapping turtle Lou Holtz as head coach. Bring in carloads of talent. Win the national championship the previous year. Extend your winning streak to 23 in a row.
Now, go to Miami for the final game of the year. Yes, the same Miami you took the national title from the previous year.
To let you know how this game went, the Hurricanes converted on a third down and 41. The final score was 27-10, Miami.
Irish haters described themselves as "almost being silly with glee" at being able to pull for the Hurricanes to dethrone Notre Dame.
7. 2003 Oklahoma Sooners
Looking back at how everything played out, it is astonishing that the Sooners presented themselves as the true alternative to the LSU Tigers and Trojans of USC for the best team in football designation.
Supposedly another one of the "greatest team of all time" outfits produced by the Big 12 (and before that the Big 8), the Sooners won every regular season game before meeting Kansas State in the conference title game.
The Sooner juggernaut had amassed 580 points while surrendering only 158 during a 12-0 season. Kansas State presented 10 regular season wins in a strange 13-game regular schedule.
Kansas State had no chance. Kansas State was little. It would be a laugher.
Kansas State annihilated Oklahoma 35-7 in a game that was over way before halftime.
Following that debacle, the Sooners somehow crawled into New Orleans to face LSU in the BCS-designated Sugar Bowl national title game.
The Sooners were competitive, but Tiger coach Nick Saban thoroughly thrashed the OU coaching staff, and the Tigers won the first of their BCS titles, 21-14.
6. 1995 Florida Gators
Two words, Steve Spurrier, generated a wave of animosity during an unbeaten regular season that led the Gators to the Fiesta Bowl.
The opponent would be Nebraska, the defending champion—owners of an unbeaten record who had outscored their regular season foes 576-150.
Not quite as impressive a statistic as the 1983 Husker team, but probably the most formidable team of the '90s.
The Cornhuskers looked every bit the part as they attacked Florida out of the gate and left them for dead by halftime, eventually winning by a score of 62-24.
It wasn't pretty.
The Gators had outscored their previous 12 opponents 534-201 but appeared nervous and unprepared, not well-coached—a shocking indictment of Coach Spurrier's micro-managing of play calling.
On the bright side for Florida, they must have learned something from the whipping. The Gators came back to win the national title the following year.
5. 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Belief in the greatness of the 1983 tribe of Cornhuskers was so widespread that some newspapers across the Midwest had already prepared headlines reading, "Nebraska Wins Title" prior to their evening meeting with Miami in the Orange Bowl.
Too bad they didn't check with Bear Bryant's beloved protégé, who just happened to be on the other sideline—the typesetters' favorite, Howard Schnellenberger.
The man that played for and worked so closely with Bryant had helped resurrect the Alabama dynasty in 1961. He would do the same in Miami, creating the Hurricane myth and the reputation as the toughest team in America.
But first, there was the matter of No. 1-ranked and 11-0 Nebraska, who had outscored their opponents 624-186. Obviously the greatest team of all time, according to everyone who had an opinion on the matter.
Voted "The greatest game ever played" by every Tom, Dick, and Sue that can be asked, the Hurricanes brought down mighty Nebraska 31-30.
To the credit of this fine group of Cornhuskers, it was not their personal behavior that created the backlash; it was simply the mantle of greatness being prematurely bestowed.
4. 2005 Southern California Trojans
We begin by saluting all the Trojan fans who supported their team during the golden era of 2003 through 2005.
During this period, SC won part of one National Title, took a BCS Championship by 36 points, and played for a third title in what some consider the game that surpassed the '83 season Orange Bowl game as the "greatest game ever."
That being said, the rest of the world resented Southern California's success and all-winning ways during those three seasons.
The Trojans were confident to the point of being cocky. That had served them well in comeback wins over Fresno State and Notre Dame during the season, but the Men of Troy had never dealt with anything like Vince Young.
Although still a power, some of the glitter came off that shiny uniform when Texas beat USC 41-38 for the 2005 BCS title.
3. 2002 Miami Hurricanes
Subsequent decades had turned the darlings of "the miracle win" over 1983 Nebraska into an outfit perceived as an evil empire.
Defending their 2001 BCS title, the '02 Hurricanes laid down the law to everyone they played and made them like it.
But it was a phantom domination.
The 2001 'Canes had given up only 103 points in the regular season, while the '02 unit surrendered 217 during a similar period.
Taking advantage of this, the "clickety-clack" offense of the Ohio State Buckeyes topped Miami 31-24 in an overtime thriller to win the BCS title.
Howls of illegal plays and missed calls still dominate conversation of the game to this day. But most of America got what they wanted, the takedown of the invincible Larry Coker, a man who had never lost a college football game as a coach until that night.
2. 1996 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Crowing about how great you are, and using flimsy excuses for losing, does not endear one to the public.
Such is the case with the cocksure and arrogant Nebraska team going for its third straight national title in 1996.
By this time, the "goody two-shoes act" of this middle America tyrant had begun to wear on the public at large.
Hints of something "just not being right" were surfacing, and the ever-present reminders of the "criminal of the month club" surrounded supporters of the '96 edition of Cornhuskers.
Who were these people?
Certainly the fine student athletes of the Bob Devaney era were long since gone, but his successor, Tom Osborne, had fielded classy teams throughout the remainder of the 1970s, during the decade of the 1980s, and into the early 1990s.
The Nebraska players of the 1994-1997 era might as well have been from Mars, they were so unrecognizable to many viewers in the rest of America.
Many people outside of Nebraska had previously cheered the valiant Cornhuskers who always gave it their best, shook hands, and left the field as a respected foe. There was a total disconnect with this outfit.
And these Huskers didn't care.
Mowed down in the desert early in the season by Arizona State, a stunning 19-0 shutout, only intensified the brashness of the Nebraska players.
By the time the inaugural Big 12 Title game came around, fans were ready to see this group "get their comeuppance."
And they did—by way of the Texas Longhorns.
James Brown out-thought and outfought the Nebraskans on that day, and the Longhorn quarterback delivered a 37-27 victory.
Osborne stood it one more year, and a somewhat more sedated group of Big Red gave him a split national title in 1997. That was it, and he left the field as head coach for good.
One has the feeling he washed his hands for two months.
1. 1986 Miami Hurricanes
It could be no other.
From the strutting Heisman Trophy winner leading a team of vigilantes wearing battle fatigues to the hair-sprayed cheerleader coach, this is possibly the most universally detested team in the history of college football.
Yes, they were that good—more than likely the greatest football team to not win the National Championship.
Outscoring their regular season foes by an average of 38-12, this juggernaut faced only one opponent who they defeated by less than double digits. That would be Florida, at the Swamp. The 'Canes won by eight.
Along the way, they defeated defending national champion Oklahoma, 28-16. In the three-year period of 1985-87, the Sooners lost only three games total, all to Miami.
The '86 Hurricanes were scary good.
Overconfident and laughing at the appearance of the stumpy-looking Penn State Nittany Lions, Vinny Testaverde hurled five interceptions to cost the 'Canes the National Championship in the Fiesta Bowl, 14-10.
Not to worry, the Hurricanes won it the following year. A slightly less talented and more subdued Miami disposed of Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to win it all, 20-14.
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