As promised, we now begin the inaugural 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football list, spotlighting the people who have cast shame upon the sport, acted to the detriment of its participants, and/or just basically served to lessen the enjoyment of us, the viewers. We commence today with Nos. 50 through 41, and will continue with another 10 every day from now through January 8, when the season officially concludes with the national-championship game.
Disclaimers: This is in no way related to the "Most Loathsome People in Sports" list started by MGoBlog's Brian Cook earlier in the year (though I did consult with Brian before starting this thing). It is, however, a blatant co-opting of the "50 Most Loathsome People in America" list put out every year by The Beast, an alternative weekly mag in Buffalo, New York. I can't promise that this list will be any funnier than The Beast's; I can only promise it will be way more unoriginal. But I've taken your nominations, stirred them in with some of my own, and put together a true rogue's gallery of unctuousness and annoyance I hope everyone will (mostly, sort of) be able to agree on.
Also, as tempting as it would be to put Maurice "Psychopants McBulletproofvest" Clarett and Marcus "If There's Grass On The Field" Vick on this list, they've been out of NCAA ball long enough that we can't really call them college players anymore (thankfully). But for going above and beyond the call in vividly accelerating the stereotype of the college athlete as above-the-law thug past anyone's wildest expectations, we hereby award them both the Hey Jenny Slater 50 Most Loathsome People In College Football Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations, and please don't ever breed.
They would've both come down to Birmingham to accept their awards personally, but they're not exactly allowed to leave their respective states at the moment.
Some of this, of course, is tongue-in-cheek. Some of it isn't. Perceptions are like snowflakes; each one is different, and you pack enough different ones together you can start a pretty good fight. So enjoy.
50. Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons
Charges: In keeping with his apparent belief that the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, and New England Patriots are the only three sports franchises in existence in the entire world, proclaims his willful ignorance of college football, yet that proud ignorance doesn't stop him from writing (condescendingly) about it. Paved the way for a whole generation of sports columnists who think assembling cute catchphrases and a mastery of already-on-the-downside-of-the-bell-curve-of-popularity pop-culture references are more important than actually being able to describe what went on in a given sporting event.
Exhibit A: Actually wrote a column about the 2006 Rose Bowl, yet spent the whole thing discussing how much Pete Carroll sucked when he was the coach of the Patriots.
Sentence: Dressed in one of LenDale White's old uniforms and thrown off the top of a building by Carroll.
49. Matthew McConaughey
Charges: Upped the ante in the Hollywoodization of college football by being a near-inescapable presence on the Texas sidelines throughout the latter half of the 2005 season and well into 2006. With ABC/ESPN/Disney/GlobalDominationCorp's generous enabling, his hammy Johnny-Knoxville-meets-Robin-Williams antics succeeded in diverting TV cameras even from Vince Young. And as if that weren't enough, parlayed his starring appearance in "We Are . . . Marshall" into an equally overdone presence on Marshall's sideline for the Marshall-UCF game earlier this year. The movie's evident rockage is the only reason he isn't a lot higher on this list.
Sentence: Has to appear in a gay-porn version of "Varsity Blues" as the dude who accosts the lead character wearing nothing but whipped cream; the TV in his trailer will feature the 2003 UT-OU game on an endless video loop.
48. David Boren
Charges: The supposed president of the University of Oklahoma lowered himself to the level of the most deluded, priority-challenged fan in the wake of the Sooners' controversial loss to Oregon early in the season by writing a letter to the Big XII commissioner about it. Nothing wrong with being pissed about the referees' ham-handedness, of course, but Boren went so far as to call for the game be wiped from the books entirely, basically using the power of his office to make the same demand that cheesed-off superfans have been making for eons in vain.
Exhibit A: "On behalf of the University of Oklahoma, I ask that you as Big 12 Commissioner take the following actions . . . the Big 12 should request that the game should not go into the record books as a win or loss by either team in light of the level of officiating mistakes."
Sentence: Six months fending for himself in Darfur.
47. Pam Ward
Charges: Everybody's least favorite ESPN announcer has discomfited many a CFB fan with her fingernails-on-a-blackboard-delivery, characterized by a disconcertingly deep bark that can most charitably be described as "husky." Probably took five years off poor Chris Spielman's life last season alone.
Exhibit A: Perpetually remanded to mid-level Big 10 games on the Deuce at 11 a.m., which is precisely when her speech is most jarring to football viewers likely still recovering from hangovers induced the previous night.
Sentence: Relegated to doing play-by-play for minor-league Japanese cricket.
46. George O'Leary
Charges: Compiled a not-exactly-scorching 56-33 record in just over seven seasons at Georgia Tech, yet somehow got the impression that he was a coaching colossus. Costco-sized ego led him to boast reflexively even about his ref-aided overtime victory in the '99 UGA-GT game, in which he tried to paint himself as a brilliant innovator for attempting a field goal on third down in OT -- after having viewed Jim Donnan's fateful decision to run Jasper Sanks one last time at the goal line. Presided over a nascent player-ineligibility scandal, nearly put an offensive tackle in the hospital by siccing four DLs on him as punishment for missing a block, and was relieved of the head-coaching job at Notre Dame after five days for making shit up on his resume -- yet still has Tech Nation fooled into thinking he was a mighty pillar of integrity.
Exhibit A: Lost 5 out of 8 to Georgia, 7 out of 7 to Florida State, and won only one ACC title, a distinction fatuously "shared" with the Seminole squad that had pasted them 34-7 that season -- and needed ineligible players even to accomplish that.
Sentence: Pounded into a pulp by the Vikings' D-line, then skinned and turned into a winter jacket for Charlie Weis.
45. Ed Orgeron
Charges: The human(oid) mainfestation of the MacBeth quote "sound and fury, signifying nothing." It's not his fault that Ole Miss administrators made the monolithically stupid decision to fire David Cutcliffe, but it is his fault that he's apparently elected to use incoherent macho babbling and Chuck Amato-style chest augmentation as a substitute for actual coaching. Despite plenty of reasons not to, apparently turns to Ron Zook for yelling, screaming, vending-machine-punching coaching inspiration. Terrorizes his neighbors' kids over juvenile trampoline-related minutia. It's a good thing his asshattery is at least entertaining, or he'd be a lot further down on this list. That and the fact that he'd probably come to my house and kill me with his bare hands.
Exhibit A: Didn't even wait for the water to drain out of the Ninth Ward before he started calling around to Tulane players asking them to transfer.
Sentence: Roasted on a spit at the Grove.
44. Bobby Petrino
Charges: The kind of guy who spends entire conversations looking over your shoulder to see if there's somebody more important in the room he should be talking to. After going 9-3 in the 2003 regular season, he had a secret meeting with Auburn's athletic director to discuss the possibility of becoming the coach there; the idea was nixed only after the "secret" meeting was exposed in the press.
Exhibit A: In only four years since he started coaching at Louisville, he's been caught pursuing jobs at Auburn and Ole Miss and LSU. When he is reported expressing interest in the head-coaching jobs at all 12 SEC schools, he apparently gets a free sub. The fact that he didn't end up with the Alabama job is a continuing source of mystery.
Sentence: Flown aboard Bobby Lowder's private jet to one of the CIA's "black sites" in Eastern Europe, where he will learn the wages of disloyalty.
43. Phil Knight
Charges: Though not as meddlesome as some boosters, the Nike CEO's mountains of cash can and frequently do give his Oregon Ducks an unfair advantage over other teams, such as when Nike gave Oregon players special cooling vests to wear for a 2003 game at Mississippi State and didn't make the same offer to the Bulldogs until they asked about it. (Not that anything could've helped MSU that year, but still.) Then there is the unfair advantage he gives his team over things like good taste and decency, accomplished via a never-ending series of uniforms redesigns that have succeeded only in making the Ducks' togs more and more visually unbearable with each passing season. The latest "innovations": Atari 2800-style numerals and faux machined-steel plating on the shoulder and knee pads that's supposed to approximate the running boards on an 18-wheeler (I guess?) but looks more like accessory padding for a gay roller-derby league.
Sentence: Stripped naked, dipped in highlighter fluid, and abused both physically and verbally by the little kid in the Under Armour commercial.
42. Craig James
Charges: A cross between the high-school class clown and the douchebag uncle who embarrasses you at family gatherings and then chides you for not having a sense of humor, the former tailback trivializes games with his mere presence. Greedily sucks the gravitas out of even the most important games by veering off into barely relevant tangents and stories of his days at SMU; God forbid he gets assigned a lesser-conference game, which he'll probably just ignore entirely so that he can turn the whole thing into his own personal open-mic night at the Improv. Played for SMU during what would've been the height of the booster scandal that later earned the Mustangs the NCAA death penalty, yet somehow nobody ever asks him about this.
Exhibit A: Made even hulking man-child Aaron Taylor look like the pinnacle of wisdom and conscientiousness when they were paired up in ABC's studio last season.
Sentence: Knocked back to a newly formed Lincoln Financial "B" team alongside play-by-play announcer Chuck Amato and sideline reporter Star Jones.
41. Hal Mumme
Charges: Cringingly, made what appears to be a conscious decision to paddle along in the Ol' Ballcoach's wake, devising a throw-it-all-over-the-field-and-fuck-everything-else "strategy" at Kentucky that he thought would make him the poor man's Steve Spurrier. However, he turned out to be more like the homeless man's Steve Spurrier, pile-driving the Kentucky program into two-win irrelevence (and NCAA purgatory) almost the minute that the real brains of the outfit, offensive coordinator Mike Leach, left for Oklahoma and then Texas Tech. Ridden out of Lexington on a rail, he ended up at Southeastern Louisiana and then New Mexico State, where his first season featured an 0-12 record and accusations that he booted certain players off the team because they were Muslim.
Exhibit A: With Leach, Mumme went 12-11 at Kentucky and averaged 38.2 points a game; post-Leach, he went 8-15, 25.3 a game.
Sentence: Smothered by being buried at the bottom of a pile of every
sweat-soaked towel he's ever draped around his neck during a game.
Tomorrow: #40-#31! Catch the fever!