College Football 2011: 10 Programs Desperate To Ditch The Drama
No one likes drama. This is especially true of college football teams. They are always thrust into the spotlight, for many different reasons. When you are a powerhouse team, you are under even harsher constant scrutiny.
These controversies, on or off the field, can cause major problems come game time. There is nothing worse than a distraction overflowing onto the field and affecting performance.
These 10 teams are desperate for a 2011 season with everything but distractions, controversies, and drama.
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Two words: Cam Newton. The Heisman Trophy winner may have led the Tigers to a BCS National Championship, but off the field he caused nothing but controversy.
Before he joined Auburn, he was surrounded by controversy as a redshirt sophomore at the University of Florida. There was an instance with a stolen laptop, and reports have since surfaced of academic cheating. He transferred to avoid expulsion to junior Blinn College.
His arrival as the only 5-star recruit at Auburn in 2010 did not come quietly. Despite his amazing performances at the beginning of the season, allegations became public about a deal between his father and two former University of Mississippi players. This "pay-for-play" scheme led to a questioning of Newton's eligibility. Rulings said he did not know of what his father was doing, and he was cleared by the NCAA.
Regardless of what happened, Auburn had a phenomenal season. Although Newton and whatever drama have left, there may still be an aftertaste lingering. A 3rd ranked recruitment class should help fill any voids left, and help the country forget about any controversy.
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After an off 2009, controversy entered Southern California in the form of their coach Lane Kiffin. He has been constantly been surrounded with drama, from his firing from the Oakland Raiders in 2008 to his small feud with former Florida coach Urban Meyer. Kiffin, in early 2010, up and left the Tennessee Volunteers after one year for the Trojans, whom he had previously coached from 2001-2006.
In addition to the scandals surrounding their head coach, the Trojans are also staring down a 2-year bowl ban ending after the 2011 season, four years of probation, a loss of 30 scholarships spread over a three-year period, and a loss of all success involving Reggie Bush. In the fall of 2010, Bush returned 6 awards from 2005, including the Heisman Trophy.
Yet, despite whatever has happened at USC, they have still managed to recruit stellar classes over the past three seasons. According to ESPN.com, their 2009 class was 4th, their 2010 class was 7th, and their 2011 class was 4th. With the return of quarterback stud Matt Barkley, the 2011 season has the potential to be a memorable one.
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With the retirement of legendary coach Urban Meyer, the Gators are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Their disappointing 2010 season concerned many in Gainesville that it may become a regular occurrence.
The beginning of the season started off controversial with the investigation surrounding special benefits towards Maurkice and Mike Pouncey.
The words “Florida Gators” have become synonymous with success, winning and championships. Their recruit class was ranked first in 2010 but fell to 12th in 2011. Hopefully, with the arrival of new coach Will Muschamp, the Gators will fly under the radar off the field but return to glory on the field.
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Move stars, drugs, losses, etc. December 2010 was not a fun month for the Hawkeyes. There was a recruiting violation involving the apparent meeting between basketball recruits and Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore during a football game in September. Then came the allegations of around 20 players using drugs and avoiding drug tests. Their top receiver was then arrested, charged, and suspended for possession of controlled substances and unlawful prescription drugs. The many transfers of players added to hurt to the fact that Iowa started the season ranked and then eventually fell out of the Top 25.
A bowl victory against a ranked and powerful Missouri team brought back good momentum and feelings to Iowa. The Big 10 may be the best conference in college football, but look for a constantly solid Iowa program to bounce back in 2011.
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In July 2010, the Tarheels received multiple allegations involving academics, agents, and benefits received. Multiple players were affected – some were moved down to scout team, some were suspended for the season opener, and one was even kicked off the team. They also lost their assistant coach and defensive line coach, who both resigned due to allegations.
The Tarheels finished 8-5 and won their bowl game against Tennessee. In addition, they inked a 16th ranked recruitment class. The ACC is usually lopsided and unpredictable. Look for UNC to be on their best behavior in 2011 and impress the country.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
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Despite a win over longtime rival Miami (FL) in the Sun Bowl, the Fighting Irish finished lackluster 8-5 under new coach Brian Kelly. Off the field however, was no victory.
A St. Mary’s College freshman accused a ND football player of sexually assaulting her, which eventually led to her suicide. ND was criticized with the handling of the issue and has recently broken its silence. Controversy hit again when Declan Sullivan, a student filming football practice, died from his fall from a hydraulic life. The university was under investigation once again due to the fact that Sullivan was very high up in windy conditions.
Stories always flow out of South Bend, good and bad. 2010 was an improvement from 2009, so hopefully 2011 will continue this trend.
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Tension between a coach and a quarterback is not uncommon, but when it becomes public news, it can become concerning.
Coach Bo Pelini came under fire because of his tirade against quarterback Taylor Martinez after a 9-6 loss to Texas A&M. Rumors then swirled that Martinez had quit the team after missing a mandatory meeting. Although the rumors were false and Pelini apologized, Nebraska did not live up to its preseason rankings. They went 10-4 with a bowl loss to Washington.
Their 17th ranked recruitment class should help make up for the voids left by stars such as Prince Amukamara. In addition, Pelini has gone on a hiring spree which should help build up a talented coaching staff. Nebraska’s entrance into the Big 10 will be a very interesting one to watch; let’s hope they can avoid any scandals or controversies.
Florida State Seminoles
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Two words – Bobby Bowden. One of the most highly regarded coaches in college football history claimed that he was “pushed out”. An academic scandal also caused Bowden to vacate 12 wins.
Despite what happened on and off the field with FSU, their 2011 class was ranked first by ESPN.com. Look for new coach Jimbo Fisher to lead a very impressive team in the ACC.
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After the “resignation” of coach Mark Mangino in 2009, controversy continued in 2010 with the early retirement of Director of Athletics Lew Perkins. This stemmed from an investigation involving a ticket scam and his enhanced salary.
The drama surrounding KU came at an unfortunate time – their football team finished 3-9 on the season. Hopefully in 2011 they will take a cue from their so far successful basketball team and perform better in the 10 team Big 12.
Ole Miss Rebels And Southern Miss Golden Eagles
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The state of Mississippi saw controversy at two of its universities.
Jeremiah Masoli already graduated from Oregon, but was dismissed from their football team beforehand. Thus, he was able to enroll at Ole Miss. He has had multiple run-ins with the police, including robbery and drug possession.
Southern Miss had drama off the field when three players were shot and critically injured outside a nightclub in November.
Ole Miss finished the season a sad 4-8 in the intense SEC, while Southern Miss finished 8-5 with a bowl loss. Ole Miss has the 25th ranked recruitment class, as both teams hope to improve in 2011.