College football today is a big game, big dollar, bigger pressure affair. It’s a pretty huge deal in most corners of the country with people everywhere counting down the days from spring practices until the games get real. Most every school has a devout and loyal fanbase who froth at the mouths when their teams take to the field. These fans live and die with their teams each and every week knowing that one bad day, a simple slip up, or just not having it that week can cost them a shot at glory. Unlike in the pros, one bad game, one measly little loss can effectively end your season.
It’s little wonder then that in the pressure cooker that is college football, sometimes the egos and personalities are inflated to epic proportions. Sometimes it’s the prime-time players, the athletes who are simply biding their time before making the inevitable jump to – they hope – gridiron glory in the NFL who get a little too full of themselves. They make bad decisions, do stupid things, and act every bit the prima donna you just know they’ll be at the next level. Other times though, it’s the coaches, the men in charge of these powerhouse programs that relish their time in the spotlight perhaps a little too much. Some of these coaches seem to love the attention, adoration, and can’t seem to get enough of it.
With all of the praise, adulation, celebrity, and God-like treatment, it’s little wonder that they may get a little too big for their britches. After all, you can only be told you’re the best thing ever so many times before you start believing it!
But their behavior and their personalities sometimes get a little out of control and a lot boorish. College football is a big business, but it is after all, just a game. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, here are just 10 of the biggest jerks in college football today…
10. Todd Gurley
The rule that disallows college athletes from benefiting from the use of their likeness is a very debatable one. Why shouldn’t these athletes, who dedicate themselves to honing themselves and their craft, be able to cash in on it in some way when their schools are cashing in on them in huge ways? It’s a conversation absolutely worth having, but as the rule is written now, athletes are prohibited from doing just that. University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley – perhaps the best running back in college football today – knew it and chose to break it anyway when he took more than $3,000 for signing memorabilia. By putting himself before the team, Gurley put his Bulldogs in a very bad position by being suspended. Lucky for Gurley, they’ve been able to rally without him and stay in the hunt for a playoff berth.
9. Steve Spurrier
Steve Spurrier coached some remarkably dominant teams at the University of Florida. His Gators were notorious for crushing their opponents, but his smug personality, arrogance, and penchant for running up the score on already well beaten opponents have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. He’s thoroughly hated around the SEC and in many parts of the South as a whole. While he’s sometimes amusing and is usually good for a sound bite, such as the clip making the rounds about he went into the South Carolina Gamecocks locker room and… well, just look up the clip, it’s hilarious and completely taken out of context. He is another coach who is incredibly surly and thoroughly enjoys his time in the spotlight.
8. Brady Hoke
Despite being the head coach of one of the most prominent football programs in the nation, Brady Hoke sure is pretty clueless. In a game just several weeks ago, Michigan QB Shane Morris suffered a violent helmet to helmet hit. The hit was so brutal, and left Morris so dazed, that his own linemen had to help him off the field. Only several plays later though, Hoke sent a wobbly Morris – who hadn’t been thoroughly checked out by medical staff – back into the game. During his press conference after the game, Hoke said he did not know whether or not Morris was concussed, blaming his QB’s return to the game on Morris’ competitiveness and toughness. Knowing what we know about concussions and player safety today, it’s Hoke’s job to know these things. This was a case of Hoke not wanting to know. So it’s not too surprising that when one of his players planted a “stake or spear” in Michigan State’s home field, Hoke didn’t know anything about that either.
7. Mike Leach
As the head coach of an NCAA football program, you’re expected to be a leader of men as well as a mentor to young kids because these college athletes are just that, kids. Parents send their children off to these programs and coaches with the belief that they will be looked after and taken care of. So why Washington State University coach Mike Leach is still able to draw recruits is a mystery. As the HC of Texas Tech, Leach was suspended after allegations surfaced that WR Adam James had been “isolated” in a dark room on Leach’s instructions. Apparently incensed that James had suffered a concussion and was unable to practice, Leach ordered him to be locked in a dark room – an equipment room near the practice facility. Leach was given the opportunity to apologize to James but steadfastly refused, which in part, prompted his firing.
6. Bobby Petrino
It’s hard to know whether Petrino is the bigger jerk for having an adulterous affair with somebody he’d hired to be his “student-athlete development coordinator,” – a woman half his age mind you – who was involved in a motorcycle accident with him that he lied about and then tried to cover up, or the fact that he’d given his mistress/employee large sums of cash and preferential treatment, exposing the University of Arkansas to potential lawsuits up the wazoo. Though, what he pulled as the HC of the Atlanta Falcons will probably top the list. After Mike Vick had been sentenced to prison for his dogfighting ring in 2007, the Falcons’s season predictably went into the tank. Languishing at a dismal 3-10, Petrino resigned back to the safe environs of Arkansas and in a show of pure manliness, informed the team that had been battling for him via a 4-sentence laminated note that he’d had left in each player’s locker. Stay classy, Bobby.
5. Les Miles
College recruiting is a cutthroat business with schools around the nation competing for the services of one player or another. When LSU head coach Les Miles thought he’d won the services of highly regarded QB prospect Gunner Kiel, he was a happy man. When Kiel changed his mind and committed to a school closer to home, Notre Dame, Miles was decidedly less happy. So miffed was the Tigers’ coach, that he very publicly bashed a 17 year old kid, saying that Kiel didn’t have “the chest” or the “ability to lead” a program. Miles went on to say that LSU got a better prospect when their obvious second choice, Jeremy Liggins, committed to the Tigers. Because lighting up a kid, in a very public setting, is a very classy way to be a leader.
4. Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston had the world by the footballs. A Heisman winner at one of the biggest college football powerhouses in the nation, Florida State, and a top pro prospect. Many had him slotted to go in the first round, whenever he would decide to declare for the draft. That is, until Jameis started being Jameis. There was the crab leg shoplifting incident, the BB gun on campus incident, and his outburst in FSU’s student union in which he stood on top of a table and shouted a vulgarity that thanks to social media, was widely distributed (that one earned him a one-game suspension). And oh yeah, the ongoing investigation into an alleged sexual assault. And to top off that heaping helping of bad decision making and stupidity, Winston also found himself in the middle of a money-for autograph scandal of his own. As FSU tries to climb to the top of the football world, Winston’s bad decisions continue to force them to make excuses, compensate, and sweep things under the rug. Winston is an incredibly athletic and talented football player, but he’s also a selfish, self-centered jerk.
3. Nick Saban
What is there to say about Nick Saban that hasn’t already been said? He’s cold, emotionless, and pitiless. He’s the Bill Belichick of college football. In fact, in terms of surliness and arrogance, he might just out-Belichick, Belichick himself! There are a million different things that could – and should – put him on this list, but the one we’ll pluck out is a story told by Heath Evans, a former fullback with the Miami Dolphins during Saban’s brief tenure in the NFL. According to Evans, during two-a-day practices in the South Florida heat and humidity, Dolphins lineman Jeno James collapsed, vomiting and convulsing. Evans went on to say that Saban simply stepped over James and proceeded to his office without a word or acknowledgment of the fallen player. Later that night, Saban addressed his team and simply said that he need to collect his thoughts and that the captain of the ship “must never show fear or indecision.” Or apparently, even a shred of humanity or common decency. Saban is one heck of a coach, but one of the all time biggest jerks.
2. Lane Kiffin
Ask fans of the Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans, and Oakland Raiders how they feel about Lane, and their responses probably wouldn’t be fit to print here. Everywhere Kiffin has gone to coach has ended badly. He has a penchant for making rude, controversial – and most of the time, incorrect – allegations, such as his calling out of Urban Meyer for supposedly violating NCAA recruiting rules, or telling recruit Alshon Jeffery that if he chose to attend South Carolina, he’d wind up “pumping gas for the rest of his life like all the other players from that state who’d gone to South Carolina.” Look at Jeffery now Lane. Kiffin is an absolute classless act and a total jerk. Which makes it somewhat fitting that he’s Nick Saban’s OC at Alabama and is supposedly being groomed to take over eventually.
1. NCAA Playoff Selection Committee
This one seems a bit unfair, really. This is the first year of the NCAA playoff system, and people are still feeling their way around a bit. Still, that doesn’t mean that people around the country won’t be screaming bloody murder when the Committee announces the final four teams that will take part in the NCAA’s inaugural tournament. Just look at the reaction to the most recent preliminary poll that puts Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Florida State, and Auburn in the playoffs. No Oregon. No Notre Dame. No Alabama. There are a host of one-loss teams that are sure to be excluded from the playoffs which will have fans gnashing their teeth and rending their garments. There are sure to be accusations of bias for a particular team or conference, as well as accusations of favoritism and idiocy. The Committee can’t possibly appease everybody which will lead many to label them all jerks, shills, and idiots.
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