50 Most-Hated Figures in College Basketball History

Doug Brodess@DougbrodessCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2011

50 Most-Hated Figures in College Basketball History

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    Hate is a very strong word. And that is exactly what some college basketball fans feel towards certain coaches, players or media members.

    The animosity or hostility that is directed towards an opponent can be intense...don't you just love sports!

    Here is a look at the 50 most hated figures in college basketball history.

    Just because someone was an excellent player (Magic Johnson), coach (John Wooden) or media member (Dick Enberg) doesn't mean that they were/are hated.

    If you think that I left someone off the list, tell me who it is and make your case.

    If you think that someone is on the list and they shouldn't be, give me your reasons.

    Bring the Heat!

50. Greg Oden: Ohio State

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    Not sure that ESPN's Bill Simmons hates Greg Oden, but he certainly is seriously underwhelmed.

    The words "overrated" and "unimpressive" have been used regularly in describing his on-court performance ever since he arrived on the Ohio State campus in 2006.

    And yet, he has been riding the "hype train" all the way through his one year on campus and four-year, injury-restricted run in the Association.

49. Phil Ford: North Carolina

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    Phil Ford had great success as the point guard at UNC from 1974-78. He was a two-time consensus All-American. He won multiple national Player of the Year awards his senior season.

    And he still may go down as one of the most irritating floor generals ever.

    Dean Smith utilized Ford to run the villainous "Four Corners" offense. Basically, four of the players stand in the corners of the offensive half-court and the fifth dribbles the ball in the middle.

    Watch here to see the "Ford Corners" in action.

48. Lew Alcindor: UCLA

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    You know people don't like your game when they change the rules to stop you.

    The NCAA outlawed dunks in March 1967, two days after sophomore Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) led UCLA to the NCAA championship.

    Dunks were not allowed again until after the Bruins had won seven more titles.

47. Wilt Chamberlain: Kansas

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    Unfortunately, Chamberlain played college hoops in a time when racial segregation off the court was still very real.

    Because of his physical size and skills, Wilt was the target of nonstop racial slurs.

    Recounting a specific game played in Dallas, KU teammate John Parker said: "The crowd was brutal. We were spat on, pelted with debris, and subjected to the vilest racial epithets possible."

46. Jim Nantz

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    Jim Nantz is one of the most long-standing college hoops broadcasters.

    He is most known for his lead-in to the "One Shining Moment" conclusion to the NCAA Tournament Championship Game.

    Over the years, Nantz's comments have become more and more rehearsed, more artificial and more annoying.

    During a 2009 Big Ten Tournament game between Ohio State and Michigan State, Nantz and Clark Kellogg were discussing a graphic of the top 10 RPI teams. Turning back to game action, Nantz punctuated the conversation by saying, "And tomorrow, the RPI will be RIP."

45. Renardo Sidney: Mississippi State

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    Sidney has been one of the biggest college hoops divas since his high school years.

    While he attracted a lot of national recruiting attention at an early age, Sidney has created one form of chaos after another.

    The pinnacle of his antics came last season when Sidney and his Mississippi roommate/teammate Elgin Bailey "threw down" in the stands after a game in Hawaii.

44. Eric Montross: North Carolina

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    Eric Montross was an opposing fans' target from the time he stepped on the campus in Chapel Hill until he moved on to the NBA.

    Whether it was his willingness to bang or his “lunch-bucket stoicism,” Montross was labeled as a bully by many.

43. Aubrey Coleman: Houston

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    Aubrey Coleman, a little known guard who played for Houston, suddenly became infamous by stepping on Arizona's Chase Budinger and then high-fived a teammate.

    He got tossed but insisted it was an accident. Budinger said he had “footprints on my face and jersey.”

42. Kelly Tripuka: Notre Dame

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    Tripucka knew only one style of play: intense.

    When you are the leading scorer for Notre Dame (which Tripucka was for all four years at ND) and you play with such passion, there's an awfully good chance that you are going to be "disliked" by opponents' fans.   

    Note: Sorry. Couldn't locate a usable image of Tripucka from his days in South Bend.

41. Danny Ferry: Duke

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    What do you get when you mix skill, determination and a Duke uniform?

    If you are the first player in ACC history to compile 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists (which Ferry was) and you play for the Blue Devils, is it possible that you will have a target on your back?


40. Reggie Miller: UCLA

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    Reggie Miller was a prolific scorer and a passionate competitor for the Bruins in the mid-80s.

    He still holds a number of UCLA scoring records.

    Even though it was created more recently, the "I hate Reggie Miller" Facebook page captures some of the same sentiments that existed back in his playing days in Westwood.

39. Kelvin Sampson: Indiana

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    Kelvin Sampson holds the rare distinction of being reviled in two consecutive college coaching stops.

    After having great success at Oklahoma, Sampson left town with NCAA investigations swirling.

    When he landed at Indiana, you would think that he would have taken the fresh start to change his recruiting habits.

    Not so. Because of a laundry-list of violations, Indiana was slapped with a three-year probation.

    During a private meeting with the NCAA infractions committee, Indiana University president Michael McRobbie said that he was sorry for hiring Sampson and called this decision, "a risk that should not have been taken."

38. Gene Keady: Purdue

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    Gene Keady was a fierce sideline competitor at Purdue. He worked the referees almost as hard as the Boilermakers played on the court.

    Because of this and his great success, Keady drew the ire of most opponents' fans.

37. Bill Walton: UCLA

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    Wouldn't it have been great if Twitter would have been in existence when Bill Walton was in college?

    You think that some of his tweets would have absolutely rocked the college basketball world? Me too.

    Walton, one of the best college players of all time, was outspoken on and off the court back to his days at UCLA.

36. Kenyon Martin: Cincinnati

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    Kenyon Martin was a force at Cincinnati. As a senior, he averaged 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.

    Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl described Martin's dominance accurately when he said:

    "His dunks are not dunks. They're detonations. He doesn't just block shots. He often catches them. More than any other player in the nation, Martin visibly frightens opposing players. "He gets a lot of credit for the blocks," says North Carolina assistant coach Phil Ford, who watched Martin get four rejections in the Bearcats' 77-68 defeat of the Tar Heels on Dec. 8, "but they haven't created a stat yet for what I call 'scares,' all the shots he makes people miss just by his presence around the basket."

35. Mark Madsen: Stanford

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    Madsen didn't get the nickname "Mad Dog" for no reason.

    What he may have lacked in sheer talent, Madsen made up for with grit and drive.

    And for many opponents and opponents' fans, Madsen's relentlessness was grating.

34. Shane Battier: Duke

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    Has there ever been a player that was ready to give up his body to play defense more than Battier?

    The three-time NABC Defensive Player of the Year drove opponents and their fans crazy by seemingly always being there to take charges, the defining skill of his game.

33. Adolph Rupp: Kentucky

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    Adolph Rupp coached the Kentucky Wildcats from 1930 to 1972.

    Rupp is fourth (behind Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith) in total victories by a men's NCAA Division I college coach, winning 876 games in 41 years of coaching.

    "Rupp was unique," said Bill Spivey, a Kentucky star in the 1950s. "He wanted everybody to hate him and he succeeded. He called us names some of us had never heard before."

32. Gary Payton: Oregon State

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    Gary Payton was an outstanding college point guard.

    Payton was named the Pac-10 conference's 1987 Freshman of the Year.

    He was a consensus All-American in 1990 and a three-time All-Pac-10 selection.

    When he finished at Oregon State, he held the school records for points, field goals, three-point field goals, assists and steals.

    Alongside of his basketball skills, Payton was known for his well-developed trash-talking talent.

    He would begin shortly after getting off the bus and would continue throughout the game.

    Payton loved to try to get in his opponents' heads. Beyond his verbal skills, Payton was simply a tough competitor that never let up.

31. Danny Ainge: BYU

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    Danny Ainge was good.

    He was a first team All-American. He was a multiple national Player of the Year award winner.

    He was a frustrating opponent, always hustling, always diving, always in everyone's face.

    But he went over-the-top on the day that he went coast-to-coast against Notre Dame in the final seven seconds to beat the Fighting Irish to make March Madness history.  

30. Eddie Sutton: Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State

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    Eddie Sutton is the first coach to take four schools to the NCAA tournament.

    Sutton reached the Final Four with Arkansas (1978) and Oklahoma State (1995 and 2004).

    He went 804-327 for his illustrious career that spanned parts of five decades.

    But don't bring his name up around Lexington, Ky..

    While the Wildcats had success while Sutton was there, his time at UK was marked with NCAA investigations and scandal.

    As a result, the Wildcats were slapped with three years probation and a two-year ban from postseason play.

29. Ron Artest: St. John's

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    Ron Artest has always been hard to stop on the court. His relentless motor made him a star.

    Some people thought of Ron Artest as a tough defender and a powerful player during his years at St. John's.

    Others just thought he was a thug.

28. Rick Pitino: Boston, Providence, Kentucky and Louisville.

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    Rick Pitino is the first coach in NCAA history to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville) to a Final Four.

    He is getting ready to win his 600th game. His current record is an amazing 597-220.

    Pitino helped restore Kentucky basketball to its place as an elite program following the Sutton-era mess.

    But when he returned to the college coaching ranks after four difficult years as the Celtics head man, Pitino did the unimaginable: He took the Louisville job.

    For some in the Bluegrass state, that is unpardonable.

27. Ralph Sampson: Virginia

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    Ralph Sampson may have been one of the best college players of all time.

    Sampson was not only the ACC Player of the Year three times, he was the national POY three times.

    Maybe it was his size (7'4"). Maybe it was his mind-blowing agility.

    But people's ridiculous expectations for Sampson led him to be ridiculed by opponents' fans and Cavaliers fans alike.

26. Allen Iverson: Georgetown

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    Allen Iverson was a star from Day 1 at Georgetown. He won the Big East Rookie of the Year award. 

    Iverson could dominate games on the other end too. He was selected twice as the Big East Defensive Player of the Year.

    He ended his college career as the Hoyas' all-time leader in career scoring average (23.0 ppg).

    But, the rap on Iverson was that on the court, he was selfish, and off the court, he was a troublemaker.

25. Larry Johnson: UNLV

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    Larry Johnson was a two-time All American at UNLV, and was selected as the 1991 Naismith and Wooden Award winner.

    Few college players could take over a game like Johnson could.

    The pinnacle of his college career was leading the Runnin' Rebels to a 30-point shellacking of Duke in the 1990 NCAA Championship game.

    While that alone could have made Johnson a hero in many people's book, he and the Rebels were disparaged by many by what was thought of as arrogance and smugness.

24. Patrick Ewing: Georgetown

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    Patrick Ewing was one of the best college centers of all time.

    During Ewing's four years at Georgetown, the Hoyas reached the championship game of the NCAA tournament three out of four years, winning the 1984 NCAA National Championship.

    But Ewing was also thought of by many to be an elbowing, cheap-shot artist, unashamed about shoving or throwing punches at opponents.

23. Jon Scheyer: Duke

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    Jon Scheyer was an exceptional player at Duke. He was selected for the 2007 ACC All-Freshman team and the 2010 All ACC Team.

    He was an All-American (second team) selection his senior year when he helped Duke win the 2010 NCAA Championship title.

    But what many remember Scheyer for was his extreme expressions on the court.

    This was so prevalent that it inspired "Operation Scheyerface."

22. Jerry Tarkanian: Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State.

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    Jerry Tarkanian was the hugely successful coach of Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State.

    His overall record of 784-202 has been matched by few.

    His greatest successes came while “Tark the Shark” led the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels from 1973-1992. His teams were known for their up-tempo offense and oppressive defense.

    Tarkanian was feisty in the media. Because of that, he gained the reputation of being a controversial coach.

21. Bobby Hurley: Duke

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    Bobby Hurley was a great college point guard.

    Hurley was a first-team All-American in 1993, went to the Final Four three times and led the Blue Devils to back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992.

    He earned Final Four MVP honors in 1992.

    Hurley remains the NCAA all-time assists leader with 1,076 assists.

20. Bob Huggins: West Virginia

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    It's hard to argue with Bob Huggins' success.

    His 690–251 record (.733) during his 28 seasons as a head coach ranks him eighth in winning percentage and fourth in victories among active D1 coaches.

    SI's Rick Reilly doesn't like anything about Huggins. He said that he doesn't "understand his nickname—Huggy Bear. The man is about as huggy as an ulcerous porcupine."

19. Jimmer Fredette: BYU

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    Jimmer Fredette scored lots of points.

    He may not have played lock-down D, and many people called him "soft."

    But here's the bottom line: Jimmer helped BYU win lots of games. Isn't that what it's really all about?

18. The Cameron Crazies

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    ESPN has labeled Duke's Cameron Crazies as "the rowdiest, wittiest, best-organized college basketball fans in the land."

    While all of that may be true, they certainly get more coverage than any other.

17. Adam Morrison: Gonzaga

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    Adam Morrison was a prolific scorer for Gonzaga, leading the nation (28.1 ppg) in the 2005-06 season.

    Morrison was widely known for his demonstrative behavior on the court. You never had to wonder what he was feeling at any time.

    In what would be his final college game, Morrison broke down in tears and collapsed to the court at the end of a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of UCLA in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

16. Jim Calhoun: UConn

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    Jim Calhoun is UConn basketball.

    As of this past season, his Huskies have won three NCAA Championships (1999, 2004, 2011).

    Calhoun has been coaching 39 seasons and has a record of 855-358. That's a bunch of basketball games.

    He is currently No. 6 all-time among D1 coaches (one win behind Syracuse's Jim Boeheim).

    Calhoun is also widely known for his brash demeanor and surly attitude.

15. John Thompson: Georgetown

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    More than just being the Hoya's head coach, John Thompson was the architect of Georgetown basketball.

    His record (596-239, 71.5 winning percentage) speaks loudly and clearly of an exceptional career.

    He led the Hoyas to win the 1984 NCAA Championship.

    Thompson's success didn't erase the perception of him being an imposing, volatile intimidator. 

14. Bill Laimbeer: Notre Dame

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    Bill Laimbeer was the epitome of blue-collar basketball at Notre Dame. 

    Even before he became one of the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys," Laimbeer was a brutal hard-nose who would do anything to gain an advantage under the boards. Anything.  

13. Billy Packer

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    First of all: Isn't the Oklahoma State mascot looming over Billy Packer's shoulder just too creepy?

    Billy Packer called 34 straight Final Fours. He possessed a great knowledge of the game. But there may have never been an announcer who was considered more annoying than the Wake Forest point guard from the early 60's.

    B/R's own King Kaufman hit the nail on the head when he said:

    "You can talk to a lot of college basketball fans about Billy Packer before you find one who enjoys his work. He’s a sharp analyst, but he’s also grouchy, imperious and overly fond of his native Atlantic Coast Conference, where Packer was a point guard for Wake Forest in the early ’60s. It’s a great basketball conference, but Packer’s job was color commentator, not ACC public relations man."

12. J.J. Redick: Duke

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    J.J. Redick was one of the best pure shooters during his time in college basketball.

    Redick was selected as the national Player of the Year by most of the major awards.

    He was also chosen as the ACC Player of the Year in both his junior and senior years.

    A less desirable distinction was the one given to Redick by Travis Clay on CBSSports.com: "The most hated (current) athlete in America."

    It was reported that after students from rivals Maryland and North Carolina discovered his cell phone number, Redick estimated that he received 50 to 75 hate calls per day from opposing fans.

11. John Wall: Kentucky

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    John Wall was one of the most talented freshman point guards in recent college basketball history.

    If he could have gone pro straight out of high school, he would have most likely been the first player selected in the 2009 NBA Draft.

    Going to Kentucky to play for John Calipari didn't lessen the scrutiny or criticism that came Wall's way.  

10. Joakim Noah: Florida

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    Joakim Noah was a unique combination of size, natural athletic ability and outrageous exuberance.

    The first two helped him lead the Florida Gators win back-to-back NCAA Championships. Noah was the Final Four Most Outstanding Player during his sophomore season.

    His "energy and enthusiasm" made him the focus of tirades and rants anywhere the Gators played.

9. Dick Vitale

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    Is there a more renowned college basketball announcer than Dickie V? People either love him or hate him.

    For those that can't stand him, most loathe his constant devotion to the Duke Blue Devils, which he neither denies or apologizes for.

    Others just think he wants to be the show rather than to describe the action on the court.

8. Greg Paulus: Duke

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    Greg Paulus started at point guard at Duke for his first three seasons. With the emergence of Nolan Smith, Paulus was moved to a reserve role for Coach K.

    I'm not sure how the hatred for Paulus reached the level it did, but....wow!

    Not only did fans ride him from start to finish at games, websites were devoted to continue the process online.

7. Steve Wojciechowski: Duke

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    OK. I'm not trying to pick on the Blue Devils. They just have a bunch of guys who have been hated.

    Wojo was an intense, passionate player that left it all on the floor. Some of Duke's fans wished he had left some of it in the locker room.

    I'm pretty sure that he is the reason so many Duke players after him hit the floor with both hands when the opposing team’s guard is bringing the ball up court.

    Why that makes some people's blood boil is a mystery to me.

6. John Calipari: Kentucky

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    John Calipari has won a lot of games. 509 so far, to be exact. 

    He can recruit like very few coaches. No. 1 recruiting classes are pretty common since he's landed in Lexington.

    And he is loathed as much as just about any current coach.

    Some of it is jealousy. He keeps pulling in elite level players year-after-year.

    But some of it is because many people think that he is as slick as any coach...and that isn't a compliment.

    He is the only head coach to have a Final Four appearance vacated at more than one school.

5. Mike Krzyzewski: Duke

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    Coach K will soon surpass his mentor, Bob Knight, and become the all-time wins leader in college basketball history.

    He has 900 wins going into this season, which means he only needs three more to be numbero uno.

    Krzyzewski has led the Blue Devils to four NCAA Championships.

    On top of the incredible success, Krzyzewski seems to run a clean program.

    And for some, they hate Coach K strictly because he has done so well.

    Others cite that he is sneaky in how he berates referees, discreet in how he dismisses the media and generally smug in most of his public communication.

    Even if you are not a fan, with all of the other corruption in college sports, isn't it hard to legitimately criticize the overall product that is Duke basketball?

4. The Fab Five: Michigan

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    The Fab Five were a phenomena unto themselves. 

    Chris Weber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson.

    What was one of the most celebrated recruiting classes in college basketball history morphed into a tarnished legacy for Michigan basketball, based on NCAA rule violations and scandal.

    Weber was even indicted on five charges, including obstruction of justice and lying to a federal grand jury.

    This year's ESPN film/documentary, "The Fab Five", didn't exactly help their public image.

3. Bob Knight: Army/Indiana/Texas Tech

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    Before the start of the 2011-12 season, Bob Knight has won more D-1 college basketball games than any other head coach.

    From 1971–2000, Knight coached at Indiana, where he led his teams to three NCAA championships and 11 Big Ten Conference championships.

    He received the National Coach of the Year honor four times and the Big Ten Coach of the Year honor six times.

    He finished off his career by coaching at Texas Tech for seven seasons.

    Successful? Oh, yes.

    Controversial? Oh, yes!

    While Knight may have been as good as any coach in terms of basketball knowledge and strategy, his overbearing personality and domineering manner rubbed many people the wrong way.

2. Christian Laettner: Duke

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    Before there was Wojo, Paulus or Redick, there was Laettner.

    Christian Laettner was an amazing college basketball player.

    He is the only player to ever start in four Final Fours. During his Duke career, the Blue Devils won two NCAA Championships (1991 and 1992).

    Laettner was the 1991 Final Four Most Outstanding Player and won most of the national Player of the Year awards in 1992.

    But for many people, he was/is the most hated college basketball player of all time.

    Opposing fans could hardly contain their loathing or disgust for the big man from upstate New York.

    And this overall disgust hasn't gone away. You can still order a "I Still Hate Laettner" t-shirt online.

1. Dave Bliss: Baylor

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    Most of the people on this list are more famous or recognized than Dave Bliss.

    But the former head coach at Baylor is the most hated figure in college basketball history.

    Bliss began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Army under Bob Knight

    For his head coaching career, Bliss had a very good record (525-328) at Oklahoma, SMU, New Mexico and Baylor.

    But over the years, a good-looking career began to look less attractive.

    Bliss was involved in making payments to his players at SMU.

    But the place where everything spun completely out of control was at Baylor.

    Again, Bliss was involved in providing improper benefits to Baylor players.

    Bliss and his staff knew about rampant drug abuse among the team, but did not follow procedures for reporting failed drug tests.

    But the low moment of all of this was Bliss' alleged attempt to frame a murdered Baylor player as a drug dealer in order to provide cover for himself.

    While other players on this list were disliked for their performance or their attitudes, fans around the world have discarded Bliss in a whole different manner.


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