College Football: The Biggest SEC Controversies During the BCS Era
Let's face it: College football and controversy are two subjects that go hand in hand.
Unfortunately, one cannot survive without the other, and when you add in the Bowl Championship Series, the two become even more compelling.
Let's take a look at the top college football controversies in the SEC during the BCS era.
The Firing of Alabama Head Coach Mike Price
In December 2002, Mike Price was hired by Alabama to replace Dennis Franchione. Price coached the Crimson Tide through spring practice in 2003, but that is as far as his career at Alabama made it.
A story in Sports Illustrated reported that Price had visited a strip club in Pensacola, Fla. and brought a stripper from the club back to his hotel. Price admitted that he was intoxicated, but never admitted to having sex with the stripper. The allegation led to his dismissal from Alabama.
Price filed a $20M lawsuit against SI, and later received a settlement out of court in 2005. The amount was undisclosed.
The South Carolina—Clemson Brawl in 2004
It all started when a couple Gamecock players congregated in the corner of the endzone as the Clemson Tiger players made their way on to the field prior to the start of the game. Some pushing and shoving occurred, and later the Gamecock players admitted that their calculated move was due to rumors that the Tigers were planning on intentionally injuring Gamecock QB Syvelle Newton during the game.
Later, with 5:56 left in the game, a huge brawl started when two Clemson Tigers hit Newton on the helmet after he was tackled at the end of a play. Both benches cleared and total chaos ensued. It took over six minutes to get order restored.
The fight tarnished Coach Lou Holtz last game as a head coach, and caused both schools to refuse invites to post-season bowl games.
Clemson won the game 29-7.
Florida Selected for BCS Bowl in Front of Kansas State BCS First Season
The "Kansas State Rule" was implemented after the 1998-99 season when fourth ranked Ohio State and eight ranked Florida were selected to play in BCS bowl games over third ranked Kansas State.
The Kansas State Rule now ensures that the third ranked BCS team is ensured an invitation to a BCS bowl game. It has been used only five times since its inception. The last time was for Texas in the 2008-09 season.
LSU's BCS Win in 2004
The 2003-04 season ended with no undefeated teams, but three one-loss teams—Oklahoma, LSU, and USC.
USC was ranked No. 1 in the AP and ESPN-USA Today Coaches poll, but their weak collective 2.67 computer ranking prevented them from competing for the National Championship.
Oklahoma, undefeated in the regular season, lost to Kansas State in the Big 12 Conference Championship game, which dropped them to No. 3.
LSU, on the other hand, had a stronger schedule (i.e. computer ranking) and a No. 2 human ranking. This led to LSU being crowned BCS Champions after defeating Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. USC defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl, and they were given the No.1 ranking in the AP poll.
The college coaches were contractually obligated to award their organization's trophy and votes to the winner of the BCS championship game.
This was the beginning of the controversy of the BCS naming the annual college football national champion.
Auburn's Undefeated Season in 2004-05
When the 2004-05 regular season ended, there were five undefeated teams in college football. Despite undefeated records, Auburn, Boise State, and Utah were denied opportunities to play for the National Championship.
The true controversy surrounded the Auburn Tigers since they had the more difficult schedule as a member of the SEC.
USC went on to defeat Oklahoma to win the BCS National Championship, and Auburn ended up No. 2 in the final polls.
After USC was handed severe penalties due to the Reggie Bush saga, Tommy Tuberville, then head coach of the Auburn Tigers, petitioned for the NCAA to name the Auburn Tigers National Champions since USC was found ineligible.
Florida's Selection Over Michigan in 2006 to Face Ohio State
When the 2006-07 season came to an end, there were four-one loss teams and undefeated Boise State left to face undefeated Ohio State for the national championship. Due to the claim of a weak schedule, Boise State was left out of consideration.
Michigan lost to Ohio State in the season finale, but was still ranked ahead of the Florida Gators, but behind USC. Florida went on to defeat Arkansas in the SEC Championship game, and USC lost to UCLA in their season finale. This left Michigan and Florida as the one loss teams left to be considered to face Ohio State.
When it was all said and done, a measure of .0101 points separated Florida and Michigan, so Florida went on to face Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. for the national championship.
Florida ended up defeated Ohio State in a huge upset, 41-14.
LSU Faces Ohio State for National Championship in 2007-08
The 2007-08 season will always be remembered for the wild upsets that occurred almost every week during the regular season.
During the final week of the regular season, the top two ranked teams both lost sending the BCS into a tail-spin. LSU lost in triple-overtime to Arkansas (their second triple-OT loss of the season), and No. 4 Missouri defeated No. 2 Kansas and took the top spot in the BCS standings.
However, Kansas was defeated by Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game, and unranked Pittsburgh defeated No. 2 West Virginia in the annual back-yard brawl. Ohio State, ranked No. 5 prior to these games, jumped all the way to No. 1 due to the upsets.
Hawaii ended up undefeated by defeating Washington, but like Boise State in a previous season, their schedule was deemed to weak to be given a chance to compete for the National Championship.
No. 6 Missouri was also left out when No. 8 Kansas was selected to a BCS bowl game as one of three at-large teams.
LSU defeated Tennessee in the SEC Championship game, which catapulted them from No. 2 since both No.1 Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia lost. LSU would then be selected to face Ohio State for the BCS National Championship.
LSU went on to defeat Ohio State 38-24 handing Ohio State their second lost to a SEC school in as many years.
The Lane Kiffin Saga at Tennessee—2009
Then there was Lane Kiffin. After a failed stint as head coach of the NFL's Oakland Raiders, Kiffin was named the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers in 2009.
Immediately upon his arrival in Knoxville, Kiffin began to cause controversy by calling out Florida coach Urban Meyer as a cheater which later he was forced to apologize for. He was also called to the carpet for other minor NCAA infractions during his brief stint as the Vols head man.
After a mediocre first season with the Volunteers, he bailed on Tennessee as quickly as he had arrived when Pete Carroll vacated his position with USC. Kiffin and his Daddy Monte took off quickly for what Lane would call his "dream job" as head coach of USC.
Don't expect any monuments to be named after Lane in Knoxville any time soon.