Thursday, January 28
The 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football: 40-31.
Yesterday we kicked off the list with numbers 50 through 41; today, we dig yet further . . .
40. Mike Gundy
Charges: The epitome of sound and fury, signifying nothing, the Oklahoma State coach brings little more to the table than a 19-21 career Big XII record and a gel-saturated coif that's half "Jersey Shore," half Sonic the Hedgehog. Yet he's managed to construct a reputation for himself as a fearless defender of players and namer of names based on a single three-minute tirade at a postgame press conference -- let's face it, without the "I'm a man I'm 40" sound bite, none of us would have any idea who Mike Gundy is. Has spun more out of consistent also-ran status in the Big XII South than anyone who's ever coached. Basically, brings a further layer of douchiness to an industry not exactly lacking for it.
Exhibit A: His "I'm 40" rant was intended to castigate an Oklahoman reporter for portraying one of his players as soft and underproductive -- yet according to that very player, Gundy and his coaching staff had been saying some of the exact same things.
Sentence: Strapped to a blade on one of T. Boone Pickens's wind turbines for no fewer than one thousand (1,000) revolutions.
39. Jim Leavitt
Charges: Leavitt, who's coached the South Florida football team ever since the program was founded, has always been known as a fiery, hardass kind of guy, but that hit a new level during halftime of USF's game with Louisville, when he grabbed running back Joel Miller by the throat and struck him twice in the face (supposedly for not wearing a helmet in the locker room). Which would've been bad enough on its own, but then he got Miller to lie to the press and say that nothing had happened. Leavitt was fired, kicking and screaming, on January 8 and replaced by East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz.
Exhibit A: Even as Holtz was settling into his new office, Leavitt was issuing statements demanding his old job back. Right, because that wouldn't be the least bit awkward.
Sentence: Head-butted off the crow's nest of the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium.
38. Ron Zook
Charges: On paper, Zook is nothing more than a fast-talking, vending-machine-punching, sub-mediocre football coach who has been promoted (repeatedly) far above his station. But he is truly loathsome for what he symbolizes: the triumph of some nebulous, only vaguely measurable recruiting ability over any actual talent for leading teams to victory. Let's be real here: Based solely on his won-loss record at Florida, particularly compared to both the man who preceded him and the man who replaced him, Zook never would've gotten so much as a text message from any DI-A program looking for a new head coach. But because the University of Illinois saw him as someone who might be able to snow impressionable young blue-chippers into spending three or four years in Champaign, they started cutting him paychecks. Since then they've gone 21-39 and are now attempting a "last-ditch" rebuilding effort six full years into his Illinois tenure -- but man, those signing days have been a gas, haven't they?
Exhibit A: "If you sleep five hours really fast, it feels like eight."
Sentence: Ten years of daily verbal abuse from former boss Steve Spurrier.
37. Mike Locksley
Charges: It should come as no surprise that Locksley, for now the head coach at New Mexico, fell from the Ron Zook coaching shrub: Locksley, running backs coach and (surprise!) recruiting coordinator under Zook at Florida, followed Zook to Illinois and then struck out on his own for Albuquerque, where he promptly went 1-11, the Lobos' worst record since the 1987 season. Along the way, Locksley further solidified his unimpeachable credentials by slugging an assistant coach during a meeting, which earned him a suspension for the Lobos' home game against UNLV. (Interestingly enough, they managed to lose that game by only 17 points, a smaller margin than all but one of the defeats they'd suffered up to that point.)
Exhibit A: Apparently Locksley can't even be bothered to pick on someone his own size: According to the police report, he outweighed the assistant he coldcocked by 100 pounds.
Sentence: Beaten into a coma by the reanimated corpse of Woody Hayes.
36. LeGarrette Blount
Charges: When the 2009 season opened with about as shocking a beatdown as could be conceived -- Boise State's 19-8 suckerpunching of eventual Pac-10 champion Oregon -- the Ducks could've done the gentlemanly thing and slunk off into the shadows, licked their metaphorical wounds, and started prepping for Purdue. Not Blount: He hauled off and slugged BSU player Byron Hout for trash-talking, and just for good measure, tried to plow into the stands to mix it up with the Broncos' fans before being bodily restrained by a phalanx of teammates and security guards. The enduring image of Blount then trying to fight off his own teammates put the cherry on top of what was almost certainly the worst display of anti-sportsmanship of the 2009 season.
Exhibit A: The personal honor that Blount was attempting to defend included eight carries for -5 yards, one of those rushes a four-yard loss that handed BSU a safety.
Sentence: Undrafted by the NFL and forced to open his ultimate fighting career against Brock Lesnar.
35. Les Miles
Charges: Succeeded just long enough at LSU to make us believe he knew what he was doing, then began collapsing as soon as he ran out of Nick Saban's players, going 8-5 (3-5 in the SEC) in 2008 and ekeing out an incremental improvement to 9-4 this past season. That record would've been better had it not been for two epic brain farts: The first was ordering QB Jordan Jefferson to spike the ball to set up a game-winning field goal against Ole Miss, despite the fact that the Tigers only had one second left on the clock; the second was a Bill Stewartesque cavalcade of horrendous clock management that denied the Tigers a chance to kick a Capital-One-Bowl-winning field goal against Penn State. At his current rate, Miles will call for the victory formation with two minutes left in the third quarter in his team's 2010 season opener against North Carolina.
Exhibit A: Miles initially tried to dump the blame on his own QB for the spike debacle against Ole Miss -- before video surfaced of Miles himself specifically calling for Jefferson to spike the ball.
Sentence: Dressed in raccoon fur and let loose in the bayou to be hunted by LSU fans.
34. Mitch Albom
Charges: The erstwhile Detroit Free Press sports columnist has apparently taken it upon himself to become the Thomas Kinkade of sportswriters, pumping out treacly, feel-good, not-even-remotely-challenging portraits of an America that never actually existed (and even if it did, for only like five minutes). When he deigns to pontificate on college football, he becomes the sport's rhetorical fainting couch, a preachy Cassandra-come-lately who's only just seen fit to get het up over the Mammon-influenced outrages the rest of us made our peace with decades ago. Rule of thumb: If someone appoints themselves the "conscience" of a given entity or institution, run for the hills and don't look back.
Exhibit A: "It is wrong and harmful and we should all be ashamed of ourselves and I guess I’m going to keep writing it until I’m the last person in this business saying it. This glorifying of high school recruits has got to stop." Mitch Albom wrote this. In 2009.
Sentence: Buried alive with Morrie.
33. Pam Ward
Charges: Paradoxically, despite being the most prominent female currently occupying a college-stadium press box, Ward has set back the cause of female sports journalists everywhere by decades thanks to her hair-straightening delivery and stupefying inaccuracy. Tape delay be damned, Ward can be counted on at least three times per game to give a description of a given play's outcome completely at odds with what we've just witnessed with our own eyes. Her crimes against sports announcing are almost enough to make an SEC diehard feel pity for the Big Ten.
Exhibit A: "Pushed out of bounds by Mouton . . . touchdown Indiana."
Sentence: Knocked down to sideline reporter for Tuesday-night MAC games and drunkenly groped by Joe Namath.
32. Jimmy Sexton
Charges: If you've ever spent a December night tossing and turning over the prospect of your beloved coach jumping ship for another program, or over the shortlist of successors into whose hands your program could be placed, Sexton is a big part of the reason why. The Drew Rosenhaus of college coaching cares not for your program or its hopes for long-term stability; he simply wants to snag the fattest possible check for his bewilderingly lengthy list of clients -- because it means a bigger percentage for him, of course -- and if that means facilitating a midnight back-door exit for more-or-less-greener pastures for your current coach, whether it's the day after the end of the regular season or the day before your bowl game, so be it. And even in the instances where his charges don't decide to leave for new jobs, they'll still put you through a few nights of hell while Sexton wrings an extra half-million or two out of programs desperate to lock their coaches down with contract extensions.
Exhibit A: Sexton represents both Lane Kiffin and three of the guys Tennessee contacted to replace him. In the end, Kiffin got a raise and his dream job at USC, Derek Dooley got a gigantic raise and a job at Tennessee, and two programs on opposite sides of the country are wondering what the hell just happened.
Sentence: Packed off to Gitmo and assigned to be the agent for Ali Akhbar ibn-Massoud of the Camp Delta All-Enemy Combatants Cricket League.
31. Colin Cowherd
Charges: Of the national radio hosts who cover college football, perhaps none have more open contempt for actual fans of the sport than Cowherd, a self-satisfied douche fountain who apparently got a laugh out of his friends in fifth grade for making fun of the new kid in class and has been convinced he's a genius ever since. Spits out ad hominem attacks and knee-jerk overgeneralizations with the speed (and precision) of a gang-banger spraying an apartment building with a TEC-9, without so much as a hint of remorse or humility (or even an acknowledgment, period) when he's proven wrong. Alternates between raining contempt down on those who've had the temerity to express their fandom through blogs and bogarting their best material. Basically, he is what would happen if sports-talk radio created an amalgam of the Omega Theta Pis from "Animal House" in a lab, only without the athletic prowess or ability to do something funny even by accident.
Exhibit A: Insisted on his show that Will Muschamp was going to become the new head coach at Tennessee earlier this month and that he "had the text message to prove it."
Sentence: Sold to the MSI Mace corporation of Bennington, Vermont, as a subject for pepper-spray testing.
Loathsome #s 30 through 21 are on the way tomorrow.