CFB’s 50 most shocking moments of the last 20 seasons Pt. 1
Take a trip down memory lane. 25 unforgettable moments that brought College Football fanatics laughter, sadness, pain, strength, love and hate. We all have learned to expect the unexpected in the sport. Anything can happen at any given time on and off the field.
Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle accident: Arkansas was a program on the rise under Petrino and was coming off back-to-back double-digit win seasons, which included a BCS Bowl berth. Arkansas was expected to contend for the SEC Title in 2012. However, Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident in early April of that year and later lied to officials about what really happened. It was a huge distraction to the team as more details surfaced soon after. Petrino was involved in an intimate affair with a woman half his age, who turned out to be on the motorcycle with him. He had her hired a year prior and text messages exposed their relationship. Petrino was fired nine days after the accident and Arkansas went on to have a 4-8 season.
Bob Stoops sudden retirement: He ruled the Big 12 with an iron fist for 18 seasons, winning ten league titles and a National Championship along the way. However, it was a head-scratcher when Stoops decided to walk away from the game in June of 2017. After all, he had Baker Mayfield returning at quarterback and Oklahoma was one of the top teams in the country. Stoops left the program in good hands with Lincoln Riley, but the timing didn’t seem right. Stoops could’ve easily had his shot with the NFL over the years. However, he decided to retire from Oklahoma to become a coach and general manager in the revamped XFL two years later.
Auburn’s Kick-Six: The Iron Bowl never lacks in entertainment and the 2013 game at Jordan Hare was arguably one of the best in the heated series. The Crimson Tide came into this game as the No. 1 team in the land and undefeated at 11-0. The Tigers were 10-1 and on a seven-game win streak. Both teams were playing for a clinch in the SEC Championship Game. The game was similar to a heavyweight bout, with both teams going blow for blow. With time running out in the fourth quarter Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon took a draw play down to Auburn’s 39-yard line. With one second left on the clock Nick Saban decided to try a 56-yard field goal attempt instead of taking the game into overtime and it backfired. The kick was short and fell into the hands of Chris Davis, who was in the endzone as a safety blanket. With great blocking by the Auburn players Davis was able to return the kick 100 yards for a touchdown and Auburn won the game 34-28 in dramatic fashion. It was an epic finish and Jordan Hare went into pandemonium. Auburn took that momentum and later played for the BCS National Championship that season.
Miami’s defensive end Bryan Pata shot and killed: The tragic incident sent shock waves across the nation. Apparently it happened shortly after Pata left team practice. Dade County Police arrived at an apartment complex four miles off campus where Pata lived. Pata’s body was found in the parking lot and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Police believed he was killed execution style and ruled his death as a homicide. The 22-year old senior was a local native in his fourth year with the team and made 23 career starts for the Hurricanes. The six-foot-four, 280-pound Pata had talent and was expected to be selected in the 2007 Draft. To this day Pata’s murder remains unsolved.
BYU’s Hail Mary touchdown stuns Nebraska in Lincoln: The Mike Riley era got off to a sour start with the Huskers and unfortunately that’s how his three-year tenure ended. Nebraska had won 29-straight season-openers entering this game, which was the nation’s longest at the time. It was a back and forth slug-fest between the Cougars and Huskers in front of 90,000 strong inside the Sea of Red. BYU’s starting quarterback Taysom Hill was knocked out of the game with an injury and freshman signal-caller Tanner Magnum was inserted. With one second left on the clock Magnum completed a 42-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Mitch Matthews as time expired for the 33-28 victory that snapped the Huskers’ streak. It set the tone for an unpredictable and entertaining 2015 season.
Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man, I’m 40” rant: After Gundy replaced Bobby Reid with Zac Robinson as his starting quarterback during the 2007 season, a certain columnist criticized the ordeal. Gundy later used a press conference to air out his frustration and disgust with that columnist and newspaper. He felt like his players were under attack by the media and called the newspaper and editor garbage. At the top of his lungs Gundy yelled “Come after me, I’m a man, I’m 40, I’m not a kid.” The epic rant went viral and Gundy solidified himself as one of the most unpredictable individuals in College Football.
Jadeveon Clowney’s monster hit: Probably the former South Carolina edge rusher’s best highlight. The former five-star recruit’s bone-crushing hit came at a time in the Outback bowl when the Gamecocks needed it most. The strength and force Clowney came with on the tackle sent Michigan running back Chris Evans into the pavement helmet-less. He forced and recovered the fumble and it gave his team a spark. The Gamecocks eventually won the Outback Bowl over the Wolverines 33-28 and Clowney’s hit instantly became one of the best plays of the 2012 season. South Carolina finished that year with 11 wins and Clowney rode that wave of momentum to becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Tommy Tubberville yanks headset off graduate assistant: It was Texas Tech’s home-finale against Kansas in the 2012 season. The Red Raiders were attempting to convert a fourth and one, but received a five-yard penalty for an illegal formation. Tubberville was steaming hot on the sidelines and immediately went over to confront graduate assistant Kevin Oliver, who must’ve had something to do with the play call. Tubberville snatched Oliver’s headset off his head so fast it looked as if he slapped it off. It was publicly degrading and Tubberville was reprimanded by the league and later apologized to Oliver. However, the damage was already done. It would be Tubberville’s last home game of his three-year tenure with the Red Raiders.
Mike Hart’s “Little brother” mocking of Michigan State: During the 2007 season Michigan beat rival Michigan State for the sixth-straight time, 28-24 in East Lansing. It was a game the Spartans led by 10 with seven minutes left to play and should’ve won. Michigan’s Hart didn’t mind rubbing it in as a mocking reminder during a press conference. The Wolverines’ running back thought his teams’ come from behind victory was funny and compared the Spartans agony defeat to a backyard pick up game with a little brother. Hart’s choice of words didn’t sit well with Michigan State and added a new generation of hate to this intense in-state rivalry.
The Palmetto State Brawl: It was the 2004 regular-season finale between Clemson and South Carolina. Both teams had mediocre seasons, but this rivalry had been boiling hot for years. It was also Lou Holtz’s last game as South Carolina’s Coach and he was hoping his players would give him a nice exit. Tommy Bowden on the other hand was struggling to get the Tigers over the hump. Neither team had much to play for, but bragging rights and pride. Apparently the officials let a lot of things fly and players got away with several penalties. Clemson controlled the chippy game and was up 29-7 late in the fourth quarter when the unthinkable happened. Several players from both teams stormed the field and started fighting each other. Helmets came off, punches were thrown, players were getting tossed around and it got flat-out ugly. Holtz and Police officers struggled to break up the nasty brawl. Luckily no one was seriously hurt and both teams were disqualified from the post season.
Michael Sam’s coming out announcement: He was Missouri’s All-American edge rusher, who was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. Although Sam didn’t come public about his sexual orientation until an interview with ESPN’s Outside The Lines in February of 2014, his coaches and teammates knew about it six months prior. The news was ground-breaking, unprecedented, controversial and made several headlines. From that point forward Sam’s playing career changed forever. He was eventually drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams, but only made the practice squad by fall camp. Many believed if Sam kept his mouth shut he’d be on NFL roster right now. Others thought he just wasn’t that good of player is to why he didn’t make it in the big leagues. Still, you can’t deny Sam’s courage for standing up for what he believed despite how it would effect his playing career and life off the field.
Tua Tagovailoa’s game-winning touchdown pass: It was the second All-SEC National Championship Game this decade and featured Alabama against Georgia. Jalen Hurts, who played great all year long was ineffective in the first half. Saban decided to bench Hurts and inserted Tagovailoa at the start of the second half. The true freshman made play after play and rallied the Crimson Tide back from a two-score deficit to send the game into overtime. Georgia had the ball first and kicked a field goal. On the following possession Tagovailoa made a freshman mistake and took a 16-yard sack on first down. However, on the next play he threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Smith to give Alabama the National Title. Tagovailoa instantly became a household name in the College Football world and the rest was history.
Peter Warwick’s felony shoplifting incident: During the 1999 season Florida State’s star wide receiver was the best player in College Football. Warwick was also the leading Heisman candidate until this incident surfaced the week of Florida State’s game against Miami. Warwick along with teammate Laveranues Coles purchased $412.38 worth of Nautica and Polo clothing from Dillards that past September. However, store clerk Rachel Myrtil allowed them to pay only $21.40 for everything. All three were charged with a single count of Grand Theft and were arrested. Warwick was suspended indefinitely. He eventually played again and Florida State finished the season 12-0, with a National Championship. This only added fuel to all of the Seminoles’ rivals, who dubbed them as “Criminoles.”
Tim Tebow’s motivational speech: Tebow was the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and Florida was the No. 4 team in the land when Ole Miss visited the Swamp during the 2008 season. However, after the one-loss to the Rebels, Tebow took the shoulder of the blame. He stepped up to the podium with tears in his eyes and addressed everyone with a speech that made him a legend in the sport. “I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God Bless.” The Gators finished that season on a 10-game win streak and won the National Title. In 2009 Urban Meyer had Tebow’s monumental speech engraved on a plaque outside the front entrance of Florida Field’s football facility.
Boise State’s Statue of Liberty Play: In 2006 the Broncos became the first-ever team from the WAC to clinch a BCS bowl bid. The Fiesta Bowl matched Boise State against Oklahoma. It was David vs. Goliath and the Broncos were heavy underdogs. Chris Pederson was in his first year with Boise State and he made some gutsy play calls at clutch times that worked in his favor. With less that 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter Boise State converted a fourth and long with a hook and ladder for a touchdown that tied the game. After an Adrian Peterson touchdown during Oklahoma’s possession in overtime, it was Boise State’s turn. The Broncos scored and Pederson decided to go for two instead of kicking the PAT to send the game into a second overtime. No one knew what was coming. The Oklahoma defenders were distracted by all the Boise State receivers on the right side of the field. Jared Zabransky faked a throw then handed the ball off behind his back to Ian Johnson. The Broncos’ offensive line blocked excellent on the edge and Johnson ran it in for the game winning score. Easily one of the best BCS Bowl games ever.
The invasion of Husker fans at Notre Dame Stadium: Nebraska was the No. 1 team in College Football during the first half of the 2000 season. The Big Red faithful showed up by the thousands to Notre Dame Stadium for this clash between the two blue-blood programs. By kickoff there was a camera view from a blimp that showed Notre Dame Stadium full of red. That meant Fighting Irish fans had sold a ton of their own tickets to Husker fans. Nebraska controlled the game until Notre Dame made it interesting in the fourth quarter. Still, Eric Crouch and Nebraska came out on top and the turnout of the Big Red Nation at Notre Dame Stadium was a simple reminder of how die-hard and loyal Husker fans are.
The John L. Smith smack: Under Smith the Spartans had a trend of starting out the season strong and then crumbling in conference play. Michigan State started out the year 3-0, but suffered back-to-back three-point losses to Notre Dame and Illinois. The Spartans’ loss to the Fighting Illini was a jaw-dropper, considering it was Illinois’ only victory over an FBS school that year. Smith couldn’t explain the embarrassing loss, so he slapped himself in the face at the end of the post game press conference and walked off. Michigan State never recovered from the upset and lost six of its’ seven remaining games of the 2006 season. Smith was fired and replaced by Mark Dantonio.
Ron Dayne’s record-breaking run: Led by Coach Barry Alvarez Dayne needed just 99 yards against Iowa to break Ricky Williams’ NCAA all-time rushing record, which he set at Texas the year prior. Dayne’s 31-yard scant put him in the record books and he trampled Iowa’s defense for 216 on the ground that day. The Badgers also won the Rose Bowl that year. Although Dayne took home the Heisman hardware for the 1999 season, his 7,125 career rushing yards was eventually broke by San Diego State’s running back Donnell Pumphrey in 2016.
The LeGarette Blount punch: It was the 2009 season-opener for both teams at Bronco Stadium. Blount’s name was mentioned as a Heisman dark horse entering fall camp. However, Boise State continued their magic and upset the Ducks. It was a sour way for Oregon to begin its’ season. As the players shook hands and the fans stormed the field Boise State’s defensive end Byron Hout tapped Blount on the shoulder pads and taunted him to his face. Out of nowhere Blount dropped Hout to his knees with a right jab on the kisser. Afterwards Blount was even shoving his own teammates. The incident resulted in Chip Kelly suspending Blount for the remainder of the regular season. However, the Ducks reinstated him after eight games. Boise State on the other hand finished the year undefeated.
Appalachian State’s upset at the Big House: Arguably College Football’s biggest upset ever. Michigan was the No. 5 team in the land and heavy favorites in the 2007 season-opener against Appalachian State. The Mountaineers came out and smacked the Wolverines in the mouth from the start. The offense made big play after big play. However, the most important one of that day was when the Mountaineers’ blocked a game-winning field goal attempt by Michigan. Appalachian State’s monumental upset was a black eye on the Michigan program and on the Big Ten overall, losing to an FCS team at home. The reaction after the blocked field goal from the two announcers who called the game was priceless and will forever go down in College Football lore.
Bo Pelini expletive audio leak: On October 9, 2011 Nebraska’s hosted its’ first home game as a member of the Big Ten and it was against Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde were having their way with the Blackshirts the entire first half and were up on the Huskers 27-6 in the middle of the third quarter. Several fans had already started leaving Memorial Stadium because the game had the making of a blowout. However, LeVonte David forced a turnover in the middle of the third quarter that shifted the momentum on the Huskers side for the remainder of the game. Nebraska rallied back and won. Two years later Deadspin released an audio of Bo Pelini going on an expletive-filled rant about those Husker fans that left the game early. It was flat-out insulting and embarrassing for the prestigious program and was the start of Pelini’s downfall with Nebraska.
The Bush Push: Pete Carroll’s Trojans were the No. 1 team in the land and very well on their way to a three-peat when they took the field at Notre Dame Stadium in 2005. However, the grass on the field looked as if it hadn’t been cut, which slowed USC down and the game was a lot closer than expected. Charlie Weis was looking for his first signature-win as Notre Dame’s coach. The game was a thriller throughout and it came down to a second and goal at the one-yard line with seven seconds left on the clock. USC was out of timeouts so Carroll was signaling to Matt Leinert to spike the ball. Instead he took the snap and struggled to get across the goal line and Bush gave him an extra push into the endzone for the game-winner. Normally this play is illegal according to the NCAA rule book and should’ve resulted in a five-yard penalty, but it’s rarely ever called.
Adrian Peterson’s broken collar bone: Oklahoma’s 2006 game against Iowa State was the star running back’s first with his father Nelson in attendance. Nelson had been in the federal penitentiary since his son was 13. Peterson had a monster game, ripping the Cyclones’ defense to shreds. However, during a 53-yard touchdown run, Peterson was careless with his body as he dove into the endzone and didn’t return. He finished the game with 183 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, but missed the rest of the Sooners’ regular season with a broken collar bone. Peterson later played in the Fiesta Bowl before going into the 2007 NFL Draft.
Lane Kiffin fired on a plane ride home: 2013 was a forgettable year for the Trojans, who were fresh off a loss at Arizona State and allowed a season-high, 62 points. It solidified the program was headed in the wrong direction under Kiffin. Athletic Director Pat Haden said enough was enough and made the infamous phone call before USC even made it back to LA. Ed Orgeron finished 6-2 as the Trojans’ interim, but Steve Sarkisian eventually replaced Kiffin. He was also fired in the middle of the season by Haden.
The one second left in the Big 12 Championship Game: An undefeated Texas team led by Colt McCoy was going up against a 9-3 Nebraska team led by Ndamukong Suh in the 2009 Big 12 Championship. The Longhorns needed this win to clinch a berth into the BCS Title Game and were double-digit favorites. Meanwhile the Huskers were looking for their first conference crown in 10 years. It was a dog fight, with the Blackshirts controlling nearly the entire game. After taking a 12-10 lead with under a minute remaining, things quickly began to fall apart for Nebraska. The following kickoff went out of bounds that gave Texas good field position, followed by a 15-yard penalty from a Husker horse collar tackle. Suh later forced McCoy to throw the ball out of bounds with as time expired. After replay officials reviewed the play, a second was added back on the clock and Texas made a 46-yard game-winning field goal. It was controversial and the Pelini brothers were livid as the Huskers left Jerry’s World empty-handed. You can call it karma, when Texas lost the National Championship to Alabama and McCoy got knocked out of the game early-on.