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GREAT COLLEGE FOOTBALL DIVORCES

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We normally don't do requests, but you can't turn down Mom. In honor of the dissolution of her marriage, we take a gander at a few of the all-time great college football divorces.

1. John Heisman and the entire city of Atlanta (and wife), 1919.

John Heisman usually included this in his preseason speech to players:

"What is this? It is a prolate spheroid, an elongated sphere in which the outer leather casing is drawn tightly over a somewhat smaller rubber tubing. Better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football."

Heisman presumably said this before he went through a divorce. Heisman did drive Georgia Tech to a 102-29-7 record during his tenure at the school,but what ultimately gave him the boot wasn't a disgruntled alum or a single losing season. Heisman's nasty divorce settlement in 1919 required his departure from the city to avoid any social embarrassment for his wife.

This extreme proviso makes you wonder what a jealous, heartbroken John was like with a couple of gin rickeys in him in public, right? Maybe he was one of those screaming, teary "No one loves you like I do--no one!" guys; maybe he just spoke loudly and in embarrassing terms about their sex life in crowded parlors. "Lest it burn your ears, Cosgrove, I warn in you in advance, but in my time with her I came to understand that Ms. Lily, my own dear wife, you see, had acquired a spot of the SHANGHAI POX in her previous travels as a free-spirited lady." (Cupping hands around mouth toward rest of room:) "DON'T TELL A SINGLE SOUL."

Heisman left for New York, and went on to coach at Columbia and Rice, but never enjoyed the degree of success he had at Tech again.


Heisman: Not the "amicable settlement" type. Just ask Cumberland College.

2. John Mackovic and the entire University of Arizona football team, 2002-2003. A protracted, nasty divorce complete with pleading, begging, fighting, and ultimately a drastic departure by Mackovic. A 10-18 record and 11 straight Pac-10 home losses didnt' help Mackovic's case. Plenty of coaches have struggled, you say; ahh, but not too many have earned the shitstorm contempt of a full-blown player mutiny as Mackovic did toward the end of the 2002 season, with half the team giving up on the animatronic coach and his Tom Coughlin-esque coaches in very public fashion. (Relationship-wise, we're thinking it was less Ike and Tina, and more like Michael Bergin and Julia Roberts in Sleeping with the Enemy. Or maybe Joan Crawford and the universe in Mommie Dearest. )


John Mackovic's soul mate warns you: at Arizona, there will be no wire hangers.

A tearful--and shamelessly televised--team meeting followed, with Mackovic struggling to well up some tears as he promised to be a better communicator. The reconciliation was brief, though--coaches fled the sinking ship like rats, Mackovic continued to act like the Tin Man, and after losing to Oregon, LSU, and Purdue by a combined score of 166-30, Arizona gleefully wrote Mackovic a $900,000 check to go away and collect rust somewhere else.

3. Maurice Clarett and the entire state of Ohio. In 2002, the entire state of Ohio started a love affair with the thick-legged frosh Clarett, a violent, dramatic fling complete with huge games, injuries, and ultimately a life-saving play in the national championship matchup with Miami that gave the Buckeyes the national title (along with a suspicious pass interference call Miami fans still stroke out about.) Clarett appeared poised to assume a position in the Buckeye pantheon...after all, he was just a freshman.

Clarett's Luciferian fall hit terminal velocity in a matter of months following the Orange Bowl. First there was getting caught with stolen goods in his car after a burglary call. Well, not his car exactly...and that's when the NCAA started to pay serious attention, fishing around his academic records and discovering Clarett was a veritable rotten log of NCAA rules violations. Second came the accusations, recriminations, and ultimately the tossing around of the term "liar" toward anyone involved with Clarett--including Jim "Cheatypants Sweatervest" Tressel, whose reputation nationally has never quite recovered from the Clarett fracas and subsequent NCAA investigations.

Clarett left burning sensations Buckeye fans still can't shake.

Ultimately Clarett's accusations fell flat, helped by the fact that he neglected to answer his phone or bother to call NCAA investigators back once. He challenged the NFL's entry rules, lost, ran a 7.12 in the 40, and signed a free-agent contract deal with the Broncos, which means that lazy, moody Maurice will likely run for 2,000 yards this season. In the meantime, flies still continue follow Tressel around like stink on bad fish, robbing Ohio State fans of the complete, untainted joy of a national championship, and giving a bad name to a formerly respectable piece of clothing, the sweatervest. (Come on--Fred MacMurray wore one all the time in My Three Sons. That's virtue, dammit.)