Ranking the Best Feuds in College Football
Is there anyone’s hand at work that you wouldn’t shake?
Let’s say it’s customary to gather around the fax machine and shake hands at the end of each work week—who wouldn’t you touch with a 10-foot pole?
Though the following coaches may not be in a Hatfield-McCoy-caliber feud, they may not want to be friends on Facebook, either.
Whether it’s because of a few poorly chosen words that the media plastered all over the Internet, a recruiting battle or a perceived injustice in a game, these guys aren’t exactly what you’d call chummy with their rival head coach.
9. Bobby Petrino-Mark Stoops
This can only be classified as a “developing” feud or maybe even a “feud in waiting.” Either way, who can resist a pregame scuffle involving the head coach of one team and an assistant from the other?
The incident occurred before last season's showdown between Kentucky and Louisville, which included Bobby Petrino getting into it with Wildcats recruiting coordinator Dan Berezowitz.
Though Petrino and Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops went on to shake hands before the game got underway, this one has all the right stuff to heat up rather than simmer down.
Especially if both programs continue to gain momentum.
8. Bret Bielema-Charlie Strong
Aaron Peters of Razorback Nation tweeted an image of Arkansas’ Bret Bielema in a presser handshake with Texas’ Charlie Strong before the Texas Bowl. Though it's open to interpretation, check out Bielema's left hand.
According to Sam Cooper of Dr. Saturday, via Yahoo Sports, Bielema claimed to have not flashed the “Horns Down” signal, but Peters stands by his visually convincing tweet.
This might not be a full-blown fracas, but it’s definitely worth adding to the Bielema file.
7. Bill Snyder-Jim Mora
Both of these guys are classy enough to keep things professional, but that doesn’t mean the internet didn’t blow up when Jim Mora seemingly half-shook Bill Snyder’s hand after UCLA bested K-State in the Alamo Bowl.
As the video clip shows, Mora did reconnect with Snyder later for a more complete handshake, but that didn't explain the initial brush off.
Could the incident have had something to do with the final play of the game, when a Wildcat defender jumped over the UCLA offensive line, clearly in the victory formation?
6. Tim DeRuyter-Paul Petrino
This one dates back to 2013, when Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter accused Idaho head coach Paul Petrino of ordering up late hits on quarterback Derek Carr.
The accusations came via a halftime interview with ESPN 940 Radio in Fresno, Calif., which sent out the following series of tweets.
(1/3) Coach DeRuyter comments at halftime: "We're gonna score 100. That's how we keep our guys interested. They keep playin' that way...— 940ESPN (@940ESPN) October 5, 2013
(2/3) "...They're being instructed by their head coach to hit our guys late. He's yelling on the sideline to hit our QB late..."
— 940ESPN (@940ESPN) October 5, 2013
(3/3) "...He's going to get what he deserves."— 940ESPN (@940ESPN) October 5, 2013
The Bulldogs beat the Vandals 61-14 and afterwards DeRuyter and Petrino shared an extra-long handshake, according to a tweet by David Bataller, the sports anchor at ABC 30 in Fresno.
Tim DeRuyter and Idaho HC Paul Petrino have words during post game handshake. No scene made. But hands stayed shook for 20 seconds. @ABC30— David Bataller (@DBataller) October 6, 2013
5. Jimbo Fisher-Dave Doeren
In another accusation involving an up-tempo offense and a rash of injuries by an opposing defense, check out what Dave Doeren had to say after N.C. State’s, Sept. 27. loss to Florida State, according to Andrea Adelson at ESPN.com.
The tempo we had was working until all the crazy fall-down things were going on and the clock kept stopping…You know the refs can’t do anything about that, but it’s horrible the way the tempo gets slowed down by these injuries. We went fast in the first quarter; I guess there were no fake injuries.
Here’s how Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher responded.
I accuse him of not knowing what he’s talking about. They’re not fake injuries. No one faked injuries, and we wouldn’t do that. We’ll coach Florida State, and he can coach North Carolina State.
Though the two eventually made nice, you can bet the incident will be remembered when the Wolfpack and Seminoles square off again next season.
4. Art Briles-Gary Patterson
This clip comes from Gary Patterson’s postgame press conference after the Horned Frogs fell 41-38 to Baylor in 2013.
What he’s referring to is events surrounding the ejection of Bears safety Ahmad Dixon, who went out of the game after being called for targeting in the third quarter.
The incident led to a heated exchange between Patterson and Baylor’s Art Briles after the game. According to Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, here’s Briles’ reaction to Patterson’s rant.
I have not heard what he said…Of course, there’s been some chatter around the office and stuff about some things that might have been said. Shoot, growing up in West Texas I was always taught if you can’t say something good about somebody don’t say anything at all.
Even though these two didn’t verbally spar after this season’s memorable Baylor-TCU game, Patterson did say he “felt threatened” by a Baylor player after the Bears’ 61-58 comeback win over the Frogs.
3. Urban Meyer-Bret Bielema
Perhaps the most ironic bit of Bret Bielema’s move from Wisconsin to Arkansas was his September 2012 comment to the Sporting News, “I can tell you this…We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC—in any way, shape or form.”
This came after he accused new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer of breaking the conferences’ “gentlemen’s agreement” that dictated that coaches wouldn’t go after athletes that had already publicly committed to other Big Ten schools.
According to Matt Hayes of the Sporting News, Bielema went as far as “hinting that Meyer was using ‘illegal’ recruiting practices.”
If they’re interested, absolutely (you recruit them)-especially from your home state…Is it gratifying to take a guy from another school? Not at all.
Check out this July 28, 2013 tweet from Bielema, who by that time was at Arkansas, no longer recruiting head-to-head with Meyer.
It's a Sunday night and excited about the week ahead. Was good week of recruiting especially against "THE" University's of the world. #WPS
— Bret Bielema (@BretBielema) July 28, 2013
Get over things much?
2. James Franklin-Randy Edsall
Surprisingly, this love-fest dates back to February of 2012, when James Franklin was still at Vanderbilt and Randy Edsall had just finished up his first season at Maryland.
According to Clay Travis at Fox Sports, Edsall accused Franklin of tampering in quarterback Danny O’Brien’s quest to transfer from Maryland to Vanderbilt, a move Edsall refused to grant. Here’s what Franklin had to say.
You guys know me…I’m the type of guy, I’m going to have relationships with my players. I hope to have relationships with the guys that play for me for the rest of my life…But the fact that people would make accusations that we tampered or did this or did that, again, I’m just going defend our program and defend the character and how we do things. But I think it’s ridiculous to think that I’m not going to have relationships with these kids after I leave places.
Speed forward to June of 2014, when Franklin had moved on to Penn State and Edsall was primed to lead Maryland into its first Big Ten campaign.
According to John Taylor of NBC Sports, here’s what Franklin had to say to Penn State alumni in Baltimore about recruiting in Maryland, a state he considered “in-state” territory for the Nittany Lions.
I consider [Maryland] in-state. I consider New Jersey in-state… [T]hey might as well shut them down because they don’t have a chance.
“They” were apparently Maryland and Rutgers, teams that need not recruit in their own states.
Here’s Edsall’s response, given at a golf event in, ironically, Pennsylvania.
Talk is cheap. We’re not going to boast and brag…We’re more about substance at Maryland. We’re gonna find guys that fit the profile we’re looking for. We’re gonna worry about ourselves and not worry about anything else.
Speed ahead again, this time to Nov. 1, when the two teams met in Happy Valley and Maryland’s captains refused the customary pre-game handshake with Penn State’s captains.
Edsall went on to apologize, and win the game 20-19.
1. Steve Spurrier-Dabo Swinney
The sometimes adversarial and always entertaining relationship between Steve Spurrier and Dabo Swinney is a natural consequence of the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry.
In November, ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson highlighted the best exchanges between the two. The greatest might be this convo from July 2014 when Swinney was asked about his relationship with Spurrier at the ACC Kickoff.
Swinney says: “He’s from Pluto, and I’m from Mars.”
Spurrier responded: “Dabo probably thinks there’s only, what, nine planets out there? I think I read where Pluto may not be considered one now.”