Disclaimer: This is MY list of what I would consider the most hated football programs in the country. If your team is on this list that is probably a good thing, because it means you are a winner or at least have a history of winning. I have respect for every team on this list, but with respect sometimes comes annoyance. Read this with an open mind, and again, if your team is on this list, it’s a good thing!
1. USC Trojans
Whether it’s the five-star recruits or the actors on the sidelines, USC is the team that everyone loves to hate. Pete Carroll has been amazing at bringing in talent, and being in one of the biggest media markets in the country, USC knows how to mix the glitz and glamour of Hollywood with football.
The Trojans have dominated the Pac-10, and have done their “share” of making noise on the national scene. USC is certainly in the running to become the team of the decade, and with recruit after recruit committing to play in SoCal, that doesn’t look to change anytime soon. ESPN is certainly not helping non-Trojan fans deal with USC’s supremacy by constantly telling us how good they are every time we turn on the TV. Either love them or hate them, the Trojans appear to be around for a while.
2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Last season brought a smile to every Notre Dame hater all across the country. Before it became the phenomenon it is today, college football was Notre Dame. The Irish had their own television network, and still do, meaning the only game outside your town you were able to watch was the Irish. Notre Dame reminds me of the Dallas Cowboys, they became this team that everyone was suppose to love and root for, but it has seemed to backfire making more people revolt against the Irish.
If the Irish continues to falter, they will drop lower in my list, but remember they were in back-to-back BCS games before last year’s debacle. And the only reason they made the BCS was because of their name recognition and not their on the field talent.
3. Miami Hurricanes
Much like the Irish, the Hurricanes’ fall from the top has been well documented and put many smiles on faces across the college football world. Watching Miami rule the Big East and national scene for years left many looking for a fresh new face to associate with college football. The Hurricanes were a factory for NFL talent, making football fans have to hear about the Hurricanes on Saturdays and Sundays.
Miami has not been what most would associate as a clean program, so that is just an extra incentive to hate them. The U has been on a tail spin since the Peach Bowl beat down at the hands of LSU, and it appears there is plenty of work for Randy Shannon if he hopes to get Miami back on the track the ‘Canes are used to. A few more years of more of the same and Miami will continue to fall on my list.
4. Florida State Seminoles
Steve Spurrier said it best: “Free Shoes University.”
Over the past 20 years, the Seminoles have been the epitome of a “dirty” program. When FSU isn’t in the news for Bobby Bowden’s tenure, it is in the police report. The Florida State “Criminoles” continue to be what others inspire not to be. With its most recent “book scandal,” Florida State doesn’t seem to have turned a corner to clean up their act.
While other schools pride themselves on graduating athletes, the Seminoles can’t seem to get past the police reports. The recent struggles are helping to remove Florida State from the on the field spotlight, but it will soon be up to Jimbo Fisher to turn the spotlight from off the field issues to on the field progress.
5. Florida Gators
Things felt better for the country when Steve Spurrier bolted for the NFL and Ron Zook took over at Florida. After a few “down years” (relative to what the Gators were used to), Ron Zook was shown the door and Urban Meyer took over after choosing Florida over Notre Dame.
Within two years, Florida was back in the national spotlight by destroying Ohio State in the national title game. Maybe it is “Mr. Wonderful” Tim Tebow or maybe it’s all the whining Urban Meyer does, but Florida is a team that easily gets under your skin.
Recently allegations have come out against Urban’s recruiting tactics, including offering a gymnast a scholarship to get her boyfriend to play football. We all know college football is a win at all cost sport, but it sure is annoying when you saw the Gators of the 90’s return after what appeared to be a downfall. Love them or hate them, the Gators appear to be a force in the SEC for the near future.
6. Texas Longhorns
Where did this cult following come from? No matter what city you go to, you will always run across someone wearing a Longhorn hat or shirt. Since when did mediocrity become so acceptable? I understand the Michigan and Notre Dame gear, but prior to 2005, the Longhorns had not won a national title since 1970.
Mack Brown guided the Longhorns to an 81% winning percentage, but has only won one Big 12 Championship in his career at Texas. Mack Brown and the Longhorns continue to bring in top recruits year after year, and while the talent is bringing in winning seasons, the Longhorns continue to struggle to get over the hump. However, wherever you go there is always someone to tell you that this is the year for the Longhorns. These fans remind me of another set of fans I will discuss later.
7. Ohio State Buckeyes
Honestly, the Buckeyes really don’t bother me too bad. I can’t stand having the “THE” in front of their name, but other than that Jim Tressel stays to himself and wins football games.
Ah, that’s it, he wins. Everyone hates a winner, unless you bleed scarlet and grey that is. The Buckeyes are good, there is no other way to put it, but there recent failures in national title games are growing on people. The Buckeyes have been a dominant force in the Big Ten, but their failures have caused others to believe the conference is weak, giving them a free pass rather than making them earn it on the field.
If the Buckeyes make it to the national title game this year, they will probably move up a notch or two regardless of the outcome. A third-straight loss will make people sick of seeing them tank on the big scene, and a win will give them their second BCS title, and like I said, everyone hates a winner!
8. Alabama Crimson Tide
It’s almost impossible to talk to one Alabama fan without them bringing up Bear Bryant. I understand, he's a legendary coach, he dominated college football, he was damn good, but those days have come and gone. They are over, the tide has washed those days away and football is different than it was 30-40 years ago. Let it go! I am not saying forget the guy, but the past is irrelevant when talking about the future.
The “12” national titles (I am not even entering that discussion) is wonderful, but the last title was in 1992, you no longer rule the college football world. Come back down to earth and have an intelligent conversation with me. With Nick Saban leading Alabama, the good ol’ days could be just around the corner. Saban knows how to recruit and knows how to turn a program around. Maybe, just maybe, when I hear “just wait until next year”, I will one day be around to see this “next year” you are referring to.
9. Michigan Wolverines
Back in the day, college football was Notre Dame vs. Michigan in the Big House. I'm sorry, but these days have come and gone. With stadiums being added onto every year, college football is just as big in Austin, Baton Rouge, Gainesville, and Columbus (if not bigger) as it is in Ann Arbor. You no longer have to go to Michigan to see a college football spectacle, but some people (ABC/ESPN) continue to pretend this is the only place that football matters.
The recent rough spots the Wolverines have gone through puts a smile on Wolverine haters all across the country. Rich Rodriguez certainly has his work cut out for him, but he appears to be the right man for the job. If he can sustain early success, the Buckeyes’ grip on the Big Ten may start to slip. Then again, it’s hard to pull for one over the other anyway. Is it possible they both lose?
10. Nebraska Cornhuskers
I know, the Huskers haven’t been relevant in college football in seven years it seems, but they are just a sleeping giant and we all know it. Any program that fires a coach after going 58-19 in six seasons needs their head examined. This move made Nebraska look arrogant and cocky, and to the smiles of most outside of Lincoln, the last four years has been a pleasure.
Bill Callahan guided the Huskers to a 27-22 record in four seasons, giving up 76 points to Kansas (the most in school history), before being fired on November 24. I was once told by a Nebraska fan (while working retail in my high school days and wearing my LSU lanyard), Nebraska is real football, not that LSU s**t. Maybe that comment has stuck with me, but I sure would like to see that guy now!
Bo Pelini has a chance to wake the sleeping giant. While it is his first head coaching job, Pelini has been no stranger to winning. Look for Nebraska to make some noise in the future, and then I guess Nebraska will be “real” football…again. Or maybe there will just be "next year."
Honorable Mention: LSU Tigers
Growing up a LSU fan, it pains me to know the Tigers are not more hated. This is quickly beginning to change. It all started when Nick Saban guided the Tigers to the national title in 2003. Tiger fans were on the prowl again, Death Valley was rocking, and recruits were rolling in. Saban bolted for the NFL, leaving the Tigers to find a replacement. Enter Les Miles. Yes, the “Mad Hatter/Lesticles.”
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, causing havoc on the football season. In 2006 after three straight games with horrible penalties, Les broke from his shell. After an interesting halftime chat with CBS, Les never looked back. Whether it was the “Pac-10 comments,” the “Alabama comments,” or the “Have a Great Day press conference,” Les has been a nice comic relief for college football. Fans of opposing teams still think he is a buffoon, and that’s ok with Tiger fans, because he is their buffoon.
After winning the 2007 national title, Les let out a big “waaaahoooo!” LSU and Miles are certainly beginning to get under the skin of the country, and the rabid Tiger faithful certainly are becoming more outspoken. If the Tigers success continues, they will quickly move up the list, because as I said, everyone hates a winner.