Offseason coping mechanism #1: Glazomania, or obsessive list-making. In no particular order, we present the ten least likeable people in college football today.
1. Myles Brand. The toothless nanny of all toothless nannies at the NCAA, Brand has spent the majority of his tenure as head bumblefuck tackling important issues such as offensive mascot names while ignoring the yearly chaos resulting from arcane NCAA recruiting codes. (Mike Willilams at USC knows this issue best, having declared for the draft and then changing his mind; evidently, unlike the rest of the population, student athletes enter not a university, but a mafia from which there is only one, one-way exit.)
In the meantime, the notion of the NCAA as an effective enforcer of regulations wanes with each passing year. Text messaging. Off-the-field conduct. Coherent rules about recruiting. Conducting actual investigations into marquee programs. Creating a fair and equitable national championship system. All unanswered and unaddressed questions that Brand will dodge in favor of attacking meaningless trophy issues, fucking up the application of Title IX, and enjoying a few more fat years of running an organization that...that does what again, exactly?
Couldn't tell you if a major program was giving money to recruits, but definitely won't let you name your team "The Fire-water chuggin', smallpox-gettin' Injuns."
2. Phil Fulmer. It used to be that only opposing fans yearned for his fat scalp; now his own team's supporters are grumbling after a 5-6 season that contained what may have been the longest consistently bad set of decisions by a head coach since Hal Mumme's '96 '98 Kentucky season. The quarterback controversy devoured Phil, and his retro reach for the safety blanket of David Cutcliffe encouraged the worst suspicions of fans that Fulmer is a man out of ideas. Toss those ingredients with the bouillabaise of animosity and outright hate Alabama fans bear toward Fat Phil, and you've got the pr equivalent of a day-old ham salad left to brew under a car seat on a hot day. (Which Phil might not even eat.)
3. Chris Fowler. Lee Corso should be in this slot, right? But just how detestable is a man who picked Texas to beat USC without shame and makes money by putting mascots on his head? There's a certain amount of heel to Lee Corso, and it redeems him, since what would the WWE slamfest of Gameday be without its villain? Corso, excepting the odd radio outburst, is also nothing but accomodating in person. Fowler, on the other hand, earns nothing but Fs from those who've met him personally; while Herbstreit is engaging, quick with the autograph, and genuinely astonished to be making a living by talking about college football, Fowler rejects fans' requests, gets tetchy with Corso or Herbstreit when they dally or follow a tangent, and has visible aneurysms when "off-message" signs creep into the back of the Gameday set. Being a wine snob who brags about rock-climbing all the time doesn't help, either. (David Lee Roth rock climbed; we did too, once upon a time, so it's not exactly an exclusive club, Chris.)
Rock climbs and drinks wine, which makes him better than you'll ever hope to be.
4. Lou Holtz. Lou's an easy target for a panoply of reasons. He represents a rare breed: the scandal-plagued football coach meets dismal, slurring analyst. Holtz the cheery motivational speaker draws raves from those who've seen him on the rubber chicken circuit, which should make him more detestable since he commands plump fees to talk about virtue and teamwork despite dragging every program he's ever been associated with into the shitpit of NCAA violations and probation. You should almost respect him for the Harold Hill act he's pulled off for almost five decades: it's almost Abramoffian in its shamelessness. (If Holtz starts buddying up to you and asking you to apply for tribal membership, be afraid.) A charlatan midget cheat of unparalleled hypocrisy.
5. Dennis Franchione. There's a simple axiom re: being hated in college football: piss off Alabama fans. They vote as a bloc, communicate like the Viet Cong, and disseminate information with the speed of a fiberoptic network, all of which explain the rapid reversal of Coach Dennis Franchione's fortunes in the eyes of Alabama fans overnight in 2002. Franchione, already tagged with the label of "ambitious" due to job hopping up to the 'Bama job, up and left overnight from the Bama job despite treacly statements of faith to the crimson and white on his website Coachfran.com and repeated affirmations that jobs didn't get any bigger or better than Alabama. What he meant to say was "unless you include Texas A&M," the job he bolted without saying goodbye to his players for, unseating popular longtime coach R.C. Slocum and quickly installing the standard array of sooper genious gimmickry: fake punts, randomly called two point conversion attempts, and loads of trick plays. None of the frippery seemed to cover up Franchione's ability to generate any kind of sustained success on the field, culminating in a 5-6 season this year and Reggie McNeal openly rolling his eyes at a Franchione playcall in a sideline huddle. In a bit of emerging physiognomy, Franchione's inner toad has come to the surface in recent years as his waistline and manboobs, as if his real character were beginning to express itself in his physique. See Kirby Puckett for another example of this transformation.
Again: don't piss off Romanians or Alabama fans.
6. Steve Spurrier. Does this require explanation? Passing to get to fifty points with two minutes left. Throwing deep on every down at any time. Goading opponents with custom insults. Running the same play ten times in a game just to prove that it works and you can't stop it. Pitching fits on the sideline. Getting biblical revenge for losses the following year, often by wildly disproportionate sums. (See Mississippi State 2000 and 2001, where Spurrier avenged a 47-35 loss by going 52-0 on them in the rematch.) Now gets to double the hate by coaching against his alma mater in the SEC East and giving his former team a UFIA in Columbia this past fall as well as picking up where he left off by beating Tennessee in Knoxville with inferior talent. Football Lucifer earns the nickname for a reason: he's an absolute dickhead of a coach to scheme against and a vicious soundbiter to face in the media who'd rather go down in flames than lose quietly.
7. Jim Tressel. Another coach whose notoriety in the NASDAQ of hate can be attributed to two fanbases: Michigan and Miami's, one for the near-constant beatings they've taken at his hands, and the other for the alleged robbery of a national championship on a ticky-tack pass interference call and subsequent overtime. Tressel's Ned Flanders act earned him the moniker of Cheatypants McSweatervest, a tribute to his smarmy, holier-than-thou demeanor and the fog of to this point unsubstantiated allegations about improper benefits to players and recruits in Columbus. It doesn't help that Tressel, who's probably not a terrible human being, also happens to be a skilled coach and a cutthroat recruiter who may ultimately be responsible for the demise of Lloyd Carr at Michigan. Whether this raises or lowers his status in the eyes of Michigan fans is debateable, but there's one thing that Tressel most definitely is not outside the lines of the Buckeye State: well-liked.
Tressel's inner thug may or may not exist, but don't tell that to Michigan fans. Shot courtesy of the brilliant Tressel's World.
8. Michael Adams. Another large bloc vote-getter in this sweepstakes, Michael Adams may be the most unpopular university president in the nation. Adams dared meddle in the affairs of Vince Dooley, beloved by all Bulldog fans despite napping through his tenure as athletic director and landing the 'Dawgs on probation more than once. The back-stabbing and double-dealing over the Jim Harrick saga rivalled that of the worst PTA board imbroglios, with Dooley taking to the press and pulling every string short of getting Sonny Perdue to declare martial law before ultimately getting the boot in 2004 per Adams' refusal to grant Dooley a contract extension. Adams took the backlash badly, hamhandedly dealing with the press and suffering from unsubstantiated claims of improper spending of university funds, and couldn't wheedle a free hot dog off a tailgater at Georgia games as a result.
9. Ty Willingham. A big fish who should have stayed in his pond, Ty Willingham is the Steve Perry of coaches: a smash success in a corner of the West Coast respected for his range, he struck out on his own with a nationwide solo act. His shoddy work ethic didn't prevent him from catching fire with an initial hit ("Oh, Sherry" and Ty's miracle first season at ND) before slipping off the radar screen and onto the golf course. Unlike Steve Perry, though, Willingham went back to familiar turf for a comeback, though not before lobbing the race bomb into the debate via a John Saunders interview and poisoning whatever goodwill might have remained in the tanks of Irish fans. Now still takes veiled shots at Notre Dame in between losses to Air Force and lowering his handicap.
10. Bobby Bowden. Yes, he had to make an appearance. A formerly brilliant head coach years beyond his prime, Bowden's laissez-faire attitude toward minor player infractions like theft, fraud, sexual assualt, assault, and drunk driving is loathsome enough to put him on this list in the eyes of both Florida fans and the ACC doormats they've been paving for years. Couple that with the dadgum, aw-shucks man of God manner and you've got a rankling stereotype of good ol' boy hypocrisy so cliched even John Grisham wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. Bowden reached a new pinnacle in recent years through the elevation of his utterly unqualified and incompetent son Jeff Bowden to the post of offensive coordinator, a move that's taken the quick and strike out of FSU's offense and squandered otherwise talented players like Greg Jones, Lorenzo Booker, Xavier Lee, Craphonso Thorpe, and Chris Rix (we said talented, not smart or "not sorta gay-looking." Not that there's anything wrong with that...) As if the corrupt Buford T. Justice caricature didn't already fit, Bowden's completed the scene by putting Junior right there in the patrol car with him.
Bowden: Don't let the son...call plays for me...(don't let his son...)