It doesn’t matter how positive you are. Your glass can be half full,—heck, it can be all the way full—but you cannot deny that college football is filled with corruption and scandal almost 24/7.
Making a Mount Rushmore of terrible college football icons would narrow it down way too much since in there have been way too many figures in awful headlines this past decade.
In this countdown, we look at one of the worst time periods any sport has ever seen, and the men who are the poster children of tarnishing college football.
Players make stupid decisions and break the law more frequently than we would like, but no offender was as popular as Marcus Vick, Michael's younger brother.
Vick got himself in deep waters in 2004 when he was first charged with "delinquency of a minor," which stemmed from his charge of sexual relations with someone under the age of consent (16 in the state of Virginia).
Shortly after, Vick was charged with reckless driving and marijuana possession that summer. In 2006, the Hokies kicked Vick off the team, "due to a cumulative effect of legal infractions and unsportsmanlike play."
Not only did Vick get himself into some serious legal trouble, but on the field he was a head case. He was caught on camera intentionally stepping on opposing players, shouting profanities at opposing fans and giving them the bird on multiple occasions.
What a way to start the Hall of Shame list.
It may seem like a surprise to have Rich Rod on this list, but his last five years were anything but pretty.
After leaving West Virginia, a team he promised his long-term commitment to, he was charged with breaching his contract. All in all, Michigan had to pay WVU $2.5 million, and Rodriguez had to pay the additional $1.5 million in order to satisfy his buyout.
At Michigan, Rodriguez not only ruined their program for the time being, but he also had his share of controversy in Ann Arbor.
Players like Justin Boren were reported to leave because Rodriguez put their dignity on the line by belittling his players to the point where they felt worthless. According to Detroit Free Press’ Michael Rosenburg, "Rodriguez's staff uses some of the foulest, most degrading language imaginable. I know coaches curse, and I'm no prude, but this goes way beyond a few dirty words. He belittles his players."
Not only did he not go over well with his players, but his coaching staff violated NCAA rules by holding unofficial scrimmages and going over the limit of practice time.
Whether he did what he was accused of doing to Adam James, Mike Leach deserves a spot on this list of infamy.
The former Texas Tech coach was accused of throwing his receiver in a shed for not practicing with a concussion. Leach supposedly threw James into isolation by cleaning out the equipment shed and advising people, "not to give him anything to sit or lean on," which sounds a little GTMO prison cell-esque to me. He was confined for three hours, and this caused a stir on ESPN since Adam is son of college football analyst Craig James.
There is some speculation Craig James had it out for Leach, James was an arrogant player and had it coming, but isolation for a concussion doesn’t seem right regardless if you like the athlete or not.
Did he know that his dad took an absurd amount of money from Auburn to have him play? We may never know for a fact, but you can’t help but look at him and think, "controversy."
Putting the debatable money situation aside, Newton still has a troubled past behind his smile. At Florida, where Newton spent his freshman year on a medical redshirt, he was accused of stealing a student's laptop. That accusation was proven fact after Newton was seen with that said laptop in his possession. Not only that, but Newton was supposedly in danger of being expelled from Florida on counts of academic cheating in three different instances.
When combining the speculation with his Auburn recruitment and his childish deeds at Florida, Newton is not a role model in the eyes of society.
If any other word for Lane Kiffin pops up in your head, it’s probably a dead-on synonym.
Kiffin signed a six-year deal with Tennessee in 2008, and when he righted their ship and went a promising 7-6 the first season, Vols fans liked what they saw.
Unfortunately, Kiffin had his eyes set on the USC head job, even though he hadn’t even made it through 25 percent of his contract. His classless departure triggered riots on Tennessee’s campus and probably led to his being voted "Sexiest Woman Alive" by Esquire.
Kiffin also had his share of recruiting violations, but saying that is like saying a celebrity marriage broke up; it's meaningless. What puts Kiffin over the edge and on this list is his departure from Tennessee.
What he actually did isn’t that extraordinary in the spectrum of sports scandals, but if he didn’t run his alleged little memorabilia shop, none of OSU’s troubles would be happening right now.
Pryor, a highly-touted recruit back in high school, couldn’t wait a few more years to start making big bucks. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, any moderate ESPN watcher would know the story about the tattoos and the cars. Pryor and five of his teammates were caught in a scandal involving selling jerseys and autographs for free tattoos, and are now being looked at for possessing new cars from a dealership right up the road.
His acts sent Tressel’s and Ohio State’s reputations right out the window, and now the Buckeyes have to wait around to see what will happen to them as far as sanctions go.
Sorry Buckeyes, but this list without Clarett would be like having a birthday without cake.
Clarett had a wonderful season in 2002 at OSU, but that’s hardly what people will remember him for. He kicked his rough departure off when he had a public fit over the university not repaying him for a friend's funeral he attended and called out the administration after they said he did it wrong.
After a small academic cheating incident that didn’t grow much legs, his ultimate downfall started.
Before the 2003 season even began, Clarett was suspended for filing a false police report that said he lost $10,000 in clothing, cash,and other properties tied with a car he borrowed from a local car dealer (sound familiar?). The final straw is when he was turned in by Andy Geiger, Ohio State’s athletic director, for taking thousands of dollars in benefits.
After he was kicked out of OSU, Clarett had a couple run-ins with the law that hurt the NCAA’s image because he wasn’t even in the pros, so they still associated him with college football.
Got away in just the nick of time, didn’t he?
Pete Carroll led his Trojans to a great dynasty filled with wins, rings and scandal. Just a few years ago stories started to break that players were taking advantage of extra benefits, namely Reggie Bush. The broken rules and improper benefits turned into sanctions that would take up the next three years of USC football, and Carroll got away without a little scratch.
High-profile players deserve high-level monitoring, and Carroll and his coaching staff neglected that to the highest extent. Not keeping any track of what your players did, causing the biggest roar in modern day NCAA football and dashing right when the heat is brought on lands Carroll an unwanted spot in this countdown.
This guy was dirty in a good way on the field, and dirty in a bad way off.
Reggie Bush reportedly took $290,000 in gifts that he did not pay back his agent, Lloyd Lake, like the NCAA rulebook says. The former Heisman winner and national champion had both of those accolades stripped from him because as any college player knows, you can’t be getting stacks of money until you hit the pros.
Rumors also swirled over USC that Bush’s mom got a house paid for her by the Trojans, and Bush’s family and friends were given lavish gifts such as cars. Whether or not those rumors are true, taking $290,000 from boosters in exchange for a Heisman trophy and national championship ring will land you a spot of infamy.
If you’re surprised he made this list, then Google his name and see what pops up. Not pretty.
The same coach that wrote books and preached integrity turned out to be a bold-faced liar, as his reputation went from excellent to flawed within weeks. Tressel received emails concerning players selling memorabilia for improper benefits. "I’ll get right on it," Tressel said.
That's when his career started to take a downward spiral.
Tressel, as we all know, never reported the violations. One thing led to another, and he is now sitting jobless for a good reason. Sports Illustrated also broke a story that players may have been violating the NCAA rules most of the time under 'The Vest.' Whether he knew about it or not shows a lot of ignorance from the author of The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life.
Forcing himself into resignation, Tressel displayed a lack of integrity and gave the world a great lesson on hypocrisy and ignorance.
My, oh my, where do I even begin? I should probably wash my hands after typing this filthy report.
In 2004, the Colorado football team made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The list of wrongdoings goes something like this:
- The Buffaloes were accused of giving potential recruits strippers, sex and drugs on recruiting trips (sounds like the normal Tuesday for Charlie Sheen).
- Reports have come out saying the football program condoned rape.
- Former kicker Katie Knida reported she was raped and constantly sexually harassed by teammates (she later transferred to New Mexico).
- Numerous other women have come out and stated they were raped and sexually harassed by Colorado players as well.
Coach Barnett seemed he couldn’t really grasp managing a few players, let alone a whole football team by any means. Treating recruits like rock stars and letting players roam around like thugs knowingly isn’t going to get you pats on the back from the NCAA. Thanks to Barnett, the Buffaloes' program took a hard hit by putting them in the fiery pits of shame.