Wednesday, January 27
The 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football: 50-41.
Your nominations have been taken into account and the list has been arranged and re-arranged, and now that it's been more or less finalized, today kicks off the 2010 list of the 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football. But first, here are a few of the guys whom you might have expected to be on the list but aren't:
Jim Tressel -- The first edition of the list came out when the Maurice Clarett mess was still fresh in everyone's memory, but since then the Buckeyes have mostly kept their noses clean (and been beaten down by a litany of embarrassing non-conference losses). Who knows, though -- the Bucks did manage to knock off Oregon in the Rose Bowl, so maybe there's a loathsome, indecent juggernaut in 'em yet.
Mike Leach -- What the Pirate Captain did to Adam James -- if, in fact, he even did what Adam James said he did to Adam James -- probably isn't anywhere near as bad as what most people would like to do to Adam James. Leach is a weird, weird dude, but nobody this entertaining can truly be considered part of the loathsome elite.
Lee Corso -- Sure, he only occasionally knows what he's talking about, but c'mon, the dude had a stroke not all that long ago. What's Lou Holtz's excuse?
Mike Patrick -- Goofier than a sack of red clown noses, but if the "What's Britney Spears been up to lately?" non sequitur is the worst thing he's ever done in his life, he's not even the most loathsome person in his own announcing booth, much less at ESPN.
Nick Saban -- I'll stipulate that we as a society may only have been exposed so far to a taste of the evil that the Sabanator is capable of, but for right now, I just don't subscribe to the "Coach X wins a lot, ergo he is loathsome" school of thought. (Auburn and Tennessee fans, of course, are free to disagree with me.)
At any rate, once we start digging into the heart of the top 50, I think you'll agree that folks like these pale by comparison. On that note, let's begin . . .
50. Kenny Chesney
Charges: Provided an answer to the entirely rhetorical question "Could ESPN possibly come up with worse 'Gameday' intro music than Big 'n' Rich?" by penning "This Is Our Time," a pop-country throwaway with lyrics so trite and fungible they made "Comin' to Your Citaaayyyy" sound fraught with meaning. Seriously, I cannot name a single CFB fan who had anything positive to say about this song. Even the shit-kicking SEC diehards from Dixie, whom I'm sure ESPN thought were right in the center ring of their target market, cursed it like one would curse public lice or the first parking-lot dent left in their brand-new car.
Exhibit A: After only a couple weeks of widespread outrage, ESPN was already backing off the use of Chesney's song. In favor of Dave freakin' Matthews.
Sentence: Forced to re-marry Renee Zellweger and exiled to hosting open-mikes in Branson; replaced on "Gameday" by Kool Keith.
49. Pete Carroll
Charges: Built a dynasty at USC so dominating in the Pac-10 it was almost boring to watch, and then, just as the first cracks started showing in the armor, bolted for the NFL -- with his program just weeks from a potential NCAA bitch-slap over special goodies supposedly given to Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight while they were playing. As Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" would say, Isn't that con-veeee-nient! Insists that his departure less than 24 hours before the NCAA announced it had completed its probe into the USC program had nothing to do with said investigation, but c'mon, dude.
Exhibit A: His abrupt departure from the Trojans 11 days into the new year ended up saddling the once-proud program with Lane Kiffin as a head coach.
Sentence: After three stultifying 5-11 seasons with the Seahawks, has to return to the college ranks as offensive coordinator at Division II Dixie State College of Utah. Under Lane Kiffin.
48. Dennis Erickson
Charges: A job-hopper with the ethics of an AIG executive and the attention span of a mayfly, Erickson was perfecting the art of leaving programs in the lurch when Nick Saban was still puttering around as an apple-cheeked DBs coach. Early in his career, he bolted Wyoming after only one year for a Pac-10 job without even telling the Cowboys where he was going, and then pulled the exact same disappearing act 20 years later at Idaho -- and Idaho was the school that had given him his very first head-coaching job. The latest program Erickson is destined to leave in substantially worse shape than he found it: Arizona State, which he led to a 10-win season in his first year but has gone downhill ever since.
Exhibit A: After a six-turnover loss to UCLA that ensured a second straight losing season for the Sun Devils, Erickson was quoted as saying "The good news is, there's only one game left." Hell of a pep talk you got there, pal. (ASU would go on to lose that one, too, and finish 4-8.) Does anyone seriously believe Erickson isn't out the door the minute the 2010 season ends?
Sentence: Twenty minutes in a locked room with middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
47. Bill Stewart
Charges: Since Bobby Bowden has dutifully exited stage right, the title of "Kindly-Looking Old Coach With The Least Idea Of What's Going On At Any Given Moment" goes to Stew, who inherited a West Virginia team riding a wave of emotion tall enough to upset Oklahoma in a BCS bowl two years ago -- and, fatefully, was promoted from interim to full-time head coach the day after the win. The 26 games he has coached since then have been a cavalcade of head-slapping personnel decisions (only 15 carries for Noel Devine against Auburn? Seriously?) and clock mismanagement that ol' Bobby himself would've looked upon with an approving grin. You feel bad for slamming anyone who means so well, but . . . well, good intentions shouldn't be used as an excuse to allow any football as proud as WVU's to be this handcuffed, achievement-wise.
Exhibit A: "It's mass confusion down here. Just a mess." -- Erin Andrews, from the Mountaineers' sideline at Colorado, 09/18/08
Sentence: Used as kindling for couch fires when West Virginia opens their 2010 against Coastal Carolina.
46. Stewart Mandel
Charges: Mandel is hardly the most offensive member of the pundit class's written-word division -- as you will certainly see as we move further down the Most Loathsome roster -- but for every insightful observation he makes, there's usually at least one howling logical inconsistency or broad, sweeping judgment so naive and/or just plain ill-considered that you start to wonder whether he's actually watched a college football game at any point in the last decade. Clings almost as fervently to an ill-defined notion of "iconic status" as Heismanpundit used to cling to the equally ill-defined metric of "scheme," which causes him to do silly things like deny Tom Osborne "legend" status as a coach for being too "bland" and continue burning a torch for the concept of Notre Dame as enduring powerhouse.
Exhibit A: May never live down this piece from 2008 in which he attempted to rank the relative "prestige level" of America's top programs, doing so not by on-the-field accomplishment or even market profitability but by what percentage of Montana residents would recognize the symbols or icons of a given program. This bizarrely arbitrary criteria led him to rank Florida State and Notre Dame as more "prestigious" than LSU or Georgia, and Texas A&M and Colorado as more "prestigious" than Oregon or Iowa.
Sentence: A Decided Schematic Advantage in Life: A Memoir, by Charlie Weis (as told to Stewart Mandel), coming soon to finer bookstores everywhere.
45. John Feinstein
Charges: Feinstein is certainly a talented writer and a passionate sports consumer, but the Washington Post columnist is also one of those guys who feels a frequent need to place himself above whatever it is he's writing about -- and nowhere is that more true than with college football, his takes on which are so cranky and perpetually outraged as to make one wonder whether there's anything about the sport that he actually likes. Has gone so over-the-top in railing away at his current bête noire, the BCS, that at times he actually verges on making the BCS a sympathetic figure.
Exhibit A: Actually wants Obama and Congress to get involved in reforming the CFB postseason.
Sentence: Twenty thousand words on the 2009 EagleBank Bowl.
44. Mike Hamrick
Charges: Nobody ever claimed athletic directors were a particularly brilliant breed of human being, but Hamrick has done his best to raise the arrogance/myopia bar to a level even the Ole Miss braintrusts who traded in David Cutcliffe for Ed Orgeron would have trouble reaching. At East Carolina, Hamrick fired Steve Logan, the winningest coach in program history, after only his second losing season in nine years and replaced him with John Thompson, who proceeded to go 3-20. Last year, after barely four months as the AD at his alma mater, Marshall, Hamrick showed head coach Mark Snyder the door just one week after the Thundering Herd had secured their first bowl bid in five years. We can only assume that Hamrick makes personnel decisions with the same 20-sided D'n'D die that Bill Stewart uses for play-calling.
Exhibit A: Between his ECU and Marshall tenures, Hamrick spent six years at UNLV, during which time he hired Mike Sanford as head football coach. Sanford was fired at the end of last season with a 15-43 record.
Sentence: Must serve out the remainder of his career as a VP in former FEMA director Michael Brown's disaster-recovery consulting firm.
43. Paul Johnson
Charges: Nothing wrong with inhabiting the stereotype of the crusty, cranky old coach, but you should at least try to take it in an interesting direction. Johnson is merely Weis Lite, throwing his weight around because he's managed to turn his high-school offense into a weapon of ACC dominance (which is sort of like bragging about the time you schooled a group of second-graders with a whiffle-ball bat). Yet despite his reputation as a triple-option guru, went just pass-wacky enough in critical phases of games against Georgia and Iowa to lose both in embarrassing fashion.
Exhibit A: After the UGA loss, instructed Georgia Tech fans to deal with gloating Dawg fans thusly: "Guy giving you a hard time and you get tired of it, punch him in the face." Perhaps not the best advice to give to a group of people who've only ever thrown punches in World of Warcraft battles.
Sentence: Reggie Ball awarded four more years of eligibility.
42. Todd Graham
Charges: Graham, you may or may not recall, was the coach who set a new standard for career ADD by ditching Rice after only one season to go to Tulsa -- just two days after signing a six-year contract extension with Rice, the negotiations for which he interrupted repeatedly to go to the bathroom so that he could call Tulsa and haggle over terms with them. He's managed to give Tulsa his undivided attention in the three years since, so good for him, I guess, but he did make minor headlines earlier this season by getting his players to fake injuries on the field to effectively snake a few extra time-outs. Though the gambit didn't work -- Houston scored nine points in the final 21 seconds to win 46-45 -- it was the kind of cravenly exploitative move indicative of a man mercenary enough to one day get hired by a desperate BCS-conference program that Graham will then haul to the deepest bowels of NCAA-probation hell.
Exhibit A: Tulsa in Graham's first two seasons: 21-7 record, average of 44.18 points scored per game. Tulsa in Graham's most recent season, i.e. after offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn had left for Auburn: 5-7, 29.25 points per game. So there's a case to be made that he's not even all that good a coach.
Sentence: Chokes to death on a piece of gristle in a Tulsa rib shack after being ignored repeatedly by waitstaff and fellow customers who find his frantic gesticulations "unconvincing."
41. Bob Davie
Charges: It's bad enough that the confoundingly tanned ESPN booth announcer insists on applying the FOOTBAW modifier to every other word as if we didn't know which sport we were watching and mispronouncing the names of players and coaches that even the most meagerly knowledgeable blogger could get right. This past bowl season, Davie elected to top his laundry list of offenses by nakedly shilling for Team Craig 'n' Adam in the then-festering James/Texas-Tech-versus-Mike-Leach brouhaha, thus proving conclusively that he's either a brazen starfucker or a mindless talk-bot willing to broadcast whatever propaganda the ESPN Powers That Be upload into his wheezing, hamster-wheel-powered RAM.
Exhibit A: During the Alamo Bowl on January 2: "You've got to admire the courage of the James family through all of this." Uh, no, Bob, we really don't.
Sentence: Has to serve as sideline reporter for the next five Humanitarian Bowls wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.
Loathsome #s 40 through 31 come tomorrow. You're so excited you can barely contain yourselves, I know.