The scandals, game-changing plays, despicable crimes, brawls and history-defining moments continues.
Some were inspiring, while others were downright shameful, but when these moments happened you remember where you were and what you were doing when everything transpired. Regardless of the matter, these moments were unforgettable and and changed the landscape on how we all embrace the game.
Here’s the last piece of a two-part article. So lets all take a trip down memory lane one last time.
The brawl at the Orange Bowl: Miami was playing little brother Florida International in what was supposed to be a game for the Hurricanes to pad up some stats. However, after Miami was leading 35-0 in the fourth quarter, a penalty flag was thrown and these two cross-town teams were going at it. Punches were thrown, players were getting stomped, but the shocker was when Hurricane safety Anthony Reddick swung his helmet and hit a Panther player in the back of the head. It was pretty much the nail in Larry Coker’s coffin and solidified he had lost complete control over his team. A total of 31 players were suspended, including 13 Hurricanes and 18 Panthers. Miami finished the season with a 7-6 record, Florida International went 0-12, Reddick was suspended indefinitely and Coker was eventually fired.
Michael Dyer’s controversial run: Auburn and Oregon squared off in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game and both teams were undefeated. It was No. 1 vs. No. 2. The Pac-12 against the SEC. Chip Kelly’s spread against Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Both teams had offensive firepower, but the game was surprisingly defensive and low-scored. It was tied at 19 with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Auburn was at its’ own 40-yard line on first down, when Michael Dyer carried the ball to the right side of the field and was apparently tackled by an Oregon defender. However, Dyer landed on top of his tackler. His knees, elbows and ball never touched the ground. All of the other Oregon defenders thought he was down and the play was over, but the officials never blew their whistles. Dyer got back up on his feet and ran the ball all the way down to the Ducks’ 23-yard line. Three plays later Auburn kicked a 19-yard field goal to win the 2010 National Championship. It was a hard-fought game and it’s unfortunate that a controversial tackle was the game-changing play that decided it all.
Texas Tech fires Mike Leach: It was a very sensitive situation that surfaced at the end of the Red Raiders’ 2009 regular season. Supposedly Leach had disciplined one of his players for showing up to practice in street clothes and sunglasses, complaining of a headache. Leach had receiver Adam James, the son of then-popular ESPN analyst Craig James, stand in something similar to a tiny closet to rest his headache. Adam took a picture of the small area he was standing in from his cell phone and then it went viral. What transpired next was a complaint filed on Leach for mistreating a player and he eventually resigned the day before he was due an $800,000 bonus from his contract. Ruffin McNeil became the Interim Coach for the Red Raiders’ bowl game. Fast forward 10 years, Leach just led Washington State to a school-record, 11 wins, while Texas Tech is on its’ third coach and coming off three-straight losing seasons.
Maurice Clarett suspended for the 2003 season: Ohio State was the reigning National Champs entering the 2003 season and Clarett was the most popular player in the game. His true sophomore season was highly anticipated by College Football fanatics across the country. However, a week into the season Ohio State Athletic Director Andy Geiger suspended the running back for the entire season, citing 14 NCAA violations, including receiving preferential treatment and benefits by a student athlete. Clarett was kept on scholarship that year, but never played another down for the Buckeyes. It was the beginning of Clarett’s downfall as he dealt with off-the-field problems and legal issues. He later put Ohio State on blast about the ordeal in ESPN The Magazine, was drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos and was quickly released. Clarett received probation for robbing a couple for a cell phone and later violated those terms after getting caught with several automatic weapons and served three and a half years in prison.
The poisoning of Auburn’s Oak Tree: After Auburn beat Alabama and won the 2010 National Championship, Crimson Tide die-hard Harvey Updyke decided to poison Auburn’s historic Oak Trees at Toomer’s Corner with a lethal herbicide. He later admitted to the crime during a phone call on the Paul Finebaum Show, claiming he was ‘Al from Dadeville’ and was eventually charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief for the senseless act. Updyke was sentenced to three years in prison and later apologized for the incident. However, the damage had already been done and it left a stain on Alabama’s fan base. In the end this only added more fuel, hate and luster to the Iron Bowl rivalry.
The brawl at the Big House: The Game is one of the most prestigious rivalries in all of sports and respected by fans across the country. However, the 2013 regular season finale at the Big House brought a new low to the legendary rivalry. Ohio State was up 21-13 in the second quarter when several players from both teams began fighting each other after an apparent face mask by a Wolverine defender on a Buckeye player during a kickoff return. Both teams cleared their benches and officials struggled to break up the brawl. Ohio State offensive lineman Maurice Hall was even seen giving the Michigan crowd two middle fingers as he exited the field into the locker room. The Buckeyes wound up winning the game 42-41, but the brawl overshadowed the final score. Several players from both teams were suspended and Ohio State ended the season on a two-game losing streak.
Nebraska backpedaling into the 2001 National Championship Game: Another controversial move by the BCS. The Huskers were one of the top teams in the nation during the 2001 season. However, Nebraska was humbled by a 62-36 blowout loss at Colorado, that kept the team out of the Big 12 Championship Game. The Huskers dropped from No. 2 to No. 6 in the polls and were on the outside looking in heading into the final week of the regular season. Miami held its’ No. 1 spot, but Tennessee lost to LSU in the SEC Championship and No. 4 Colorado beat No. 3 Texas in the Big 12 Championship. Despite Oregon being No. 3 in both polls, the Ducks were No. 5 in the BCS rankings. Still, with all the upsets in the final week, the Huskers climbed their way back into the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings, ahead of both the Buffaloes and Ducks. Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch wound up winning the Heisman Trophy and the Huskers got crushed by Miami 37-14 in the Rose Bowl. This solidified that the BCS system was a flawed and Nebraska’s program hasn’t been the same since.
Vince Young’s game-winning touchdown run: The 2005 BCS National Championship Game packed so much star power. Texas’ Mack Brown and Young against USC’s Pete Carroll, Matt Leinert and Reggie Bush. The game was played in the Trojans’ backyard and was similar to a heavyweight fight, with each team going round for round. The Trojans were up 38-33 late in the fourth quarter and their offense had a chance to ice the game, but got stuffed on a fourth and short. With just over two minutes left in the game, the Longhorns got the ball back at their own 44-yard line. Young put together a drive for the ages. Texas was facing a fourth and five at USC’s nine-yard line, with 26 seconds left in the game. Young took a snap out of the shotgun formation and ran the ball in for the go-ahead touchdown. The Rose Bowl went into a frenzy. It was an epic performance by Young, in arguably the best Championship Game in recent memory and Texas snapped USC’s 34-game win streak to win the National Title.
Manti Te’o’s girlfriend hoax: The inside linebacker was having a senior year to remember in 2012, with 113 tackles, seven interceptions and Notre Dame finished the regular season 12-0. Te’o won the Lott, Maxwell, Bednarik, Nagurski, Butkus and Walter Camp Awards that year. Not to mention Te’o was the Heisman runner-up. He accomplished all of these feats while grieving the loss of his grandmother earlier that season. Te’o had supposedly been dating a woman named Lennay Marie Kekua, who he never met physically. However, all his glory came to a screeching halt when news surfaced that Kekua died in a car accident. It made national headlines, but eventually it turned out to be untrue. Lennay never existed and Te’o became the epitome of falling victim to cat-fishing. It effected his entire aura, Te’o was a now-show in the National Title Game and his NFL Draft stock plummeted. From that point forward Te’o’s playing career has never been the same.
Jameis Winston’s game winning touchdown pass: He was scrutinized throughout the 2013 season for an alleged rape on Florida State student Erica Kinsman. The allegations were a huge distraction to the Seminoles’ undefeated season, but Winston was never suspended and continued to lead his team through their ACC schedule. Florida State eventually squared off with Auburn for the National Championship and the game was a thriller. After the Tigers took the lead 31-27 with a little over a minute left to play in the fourth quarter, Florida State’s offense got the ball back and needed an 80-yard drive to win the game. The Seminoles drove all the way down to the Tigers’ two-yard line with one timeout remaining. Instead of running the ball, Jimbo Fisher decided to call a play-action pass over the middle to receiver Kelvin Benjamin and Winston delivered the go-ahead touchdown. Florida State won the game 34-31 in dramatic fashion and the book was closed on an unforgettable Seminole season.
Reggie Bush stripped of Heisman: He was one of the game’s most electrifying players with a career at USC full of brilliant highlights. The Trojans’ had an unforgettable 2005 season, with their offense being one of the nation’s best. Bush finished that year with 1,740 yards on the ground, 478 receiving yards, 19 total touchdowns and took home the Heisman hardware. However, news surfaced about Bush’s family living in a $500,000 and paid no rent. Bush and his family were later sued by a sports agent for not repaying $290,000 in gifts. Bush had already been in the NFL for a few years before he was stripped of his Heisman, but he was the first and only player to have his trophy confiscated. With all the violations during his collegiate career Bush was technically ineligible so the Heisman was left vacant by the Heisman Trophy Trust. USC also had to vacate those wins. Former Texas Coach made it publicly known his quarterback Vince Young should’ve been awarded the trophy. Regardless of the matter, the move was unprecedented and controversial.
Aarron Murray’s final pass completion in SEC Title Game: This was 2012’s game of the year, with the winner clinching a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. Georgia was the No. 3 team in the land and Alabama was No. 1. The Bulldogs led for most of the game, until Alabama rallied back in the fourth quarter. However, Georgia’s offense possessed the ball last and had a chance to win the game. The Bulldogs drove the ball all the way down to the Crimson Tide’s eight-yard line with no timeouts and nine seconds left on the clock. Murray took the snap and completed a three-yard pass to Chris Conley in the flats, but the receiver failed to get out of bounds. Time expired and the play was a head-scratcher, considering Murray could’ve took a knee and stopped the clock. Georgia Coach Mark Richt caught a lot of criticism behind the play and the completion still haunts Murray to this day.
Melvin Gordon’s 400-yard rushing performance: Wisconsin has a history of elite running backs, but Gordon considered himself on another level. He proved that in a pivotal Legends’ Division matchup against 11th-ranked Nebraska at Camp Randall during the 2014 season. Gordon completely steamrolled the Blackshirts and gained 408 yards on 25 carries by the end of the third quarter. It was a NCAA single-game rushing record and the Badgers annihilated the Huskers 52-17. Gordon also took home the Doak Walker Award that year. However, his record was short-lived and got shattered by Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine when he rushed for 427 yards against Kansas a week later.
Joe Paterno fired by Penn State: He ruled the program with an iron fist for 46 seasons, 62 overall with the University and had some of the best job security in all of College Football. However, it all came to a screeching halt during the 2011 season when news surfaced about Paterno’s role in Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation fiasco. He knew about his former Defensive Coordinator suspect behavior with underage boys and did nothing about it. Paterno supposedly reported it to his superiors, but never notified the authorities about it. The news all became public a couple days after Paterno surpassed Eddie Robinson as the all-time winningest coach in Division I history. Unfortunately he never got the chance to finish the season and was fired before Penn State’s game against Nebraska. President Graham Spainer was also fired and Paterno passed away a few months later. It was a black eye on the Nittany Lion program and the Big Ten. Although Penn State didn’t receive the ‘Death Penalty’ the program was handed down a four-year bowl ban by the NCAA, which was later reduced. The University was also fined $60 million, athletic scholarships were reduced and Penn State had to forfeit 111 wins.
Art Briles fired from Baylor: The Bears went from being the bottom-feeder of the Big 12 to one of the elite teams of the conference under Briles. His offense was putting up video game numbers on defenses. Briles clearly took the program to new heights. Baylor produced its’ first-ever Heisman Trophy winner in Robert Griffin III. The Bears were coming off three-straight double-digit win campaigns and Briles just signed the best recruiting class in program history. However, news surfaced during the off season in 2016 about the way Briles was running the program. Apparently his players were mistreating, raping and abusing women for years and school officials turned their backs. Briles was suspended and later terminated for it all. Several allegations kept piling up after his dismissal and it became an ugly mess. The past continues to haunt the embattled coach and he has struggled to this day to find employment. The NCAA made an example out of Briles that mistreatment of women will no longer be tolerated and has no room in today’s society.
Ohio State tattoo scandal: News of this surfaced after the end of the 2010 season. Five Ohio State players, including starting quarterback Terrell Pryor were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season. All for receiving tattoos in exchange for selling jerseys, championship rings and other team memorabilia. It was considered a major violation by the NCAA because student athletes aren’t supposed to receive improper benefits. It had a major effect on the team, because it wasn’t just backups who committed these violations. It was the Buckeyes’ main signal-caller, leading rusher Dan Herron, No. 2 receiver DeVier Posey and All-Big Ten offensive tackle Mike Adams. All the players had to repay back what they had sold. The tattoo parlor owner wound up going to prison behind the ordeal, Pryor never played another down for the Buckeyes and Coach Jim Tressell was forced to resign after 10 years on the job for his role in the embarrassing scandal.
Karl Dorrell’s Bruins upset of Pete Carroll’s Trojans: The 2006 regular season finale between rivals UCLA and USC consisted of two teams headed in opposite directions. The Trojans were the No. 2 team in the country at 10-1, and were one win away from playing for their third-straight National Title. Meanwhile the Bruins were having a mediocre season with a 6-5 record. The Bruins were huge underdogs to the mighty Trojans. Pretty much everyone had already penciled USC in for the win before the game even started. However, the UCLA players came out and played like their hair was on fire. The Bruins’ defense was relentless and shutdown the Trojans’ high-powered offense. UCLA pulled off the monumental upset, won the game 13-9 and kept USC out of the 2006 BCS National Championship Game.
The Big 12 fallout: It started with the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game between Nebraska and Texas. The controversial one second that got put back on the clock after it seemed as had expired. Texas wound up kicking a 46-yard field goal to win the game and Nebraska felt robbed. Six months later the Huskers made it public that the program wanted out of the Big 12 and felt the South Division was eating too much off of the league’s plate. Nebraska was accepted into the Big Ten and officially joined the conference for the 2011 season. Texas A&M and Missouri followed suit that same year and officially joined the SEC in 2012. Not to mention Colorado left the Big 12 that same year to join the Pac-12 for the 2012 season. To this day the Big 12 is still recovering from all the departures, but the conference will never get back the aura it had 15 years ago.
Bill Callahan’s “Hillbilly” expletive to Oklahoma fans: 2004 was Callahan’s first season with Nebraska and his team limped into this game with a 5-4 record. Meanwhile the Sooners were the No. 2 team in the country, undefeated at 9-0 and were four-touchdown favorites over the Huskers in Norman. Oklahoma was never threatened in this game and led 30-0 heading into the last minute of the fourth quarter. Nebraska was in jeopardy of suffering its’ first shutout since 1996, so Callahan decided to kick a last second field goal. After the Huskers finally got on the board, Sooner fans were already taunting the coach and throwing oranges on the field at him. Callahan yelled back at the crowd “F%#@%*& Hillbillies!” It sent shock waves through both fan bases and the once proud rivalry had reached a new low. This wasn’t the the last of several classless acts by Callahan. It was confirmed he even called former Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne “A crusty old (expletive)” in a tell-all book based on former football trainer Doak Ostegard.
Louisiana-Monroe upsets Alabama at Bryant-Denny: Saban’s first season with the Crimson Tide in 2007 didn’t start off with a bang. Alabama came into this game with a 6-4 record, after back-to-back conference losses. However, the Crimson Tide were 6-0 against Sun Belt teams at the time and this game was supposed to be a glorified scrimmage for Saban’s boys. However, the Warhawks were on a mission and smacked the Crimson Tide right in the mouth from the start. Alabama struggled offensively and suffered a seven-point home loss to a team its was far superior to. It was a black eye for the blue-blood program and for the SEC. There was some grumbling. Alabama took a step back, but made a giant leap forward and never looked back. Eleven years later Alabama has six SEC Championships, five National Championships and Saban has brought the program to heights it hasn’t seen since the Bear Bryant glory years.
Dabo Swinney’s first kiss on Howard’s Rock as Clemson’s Coach: He became the Tigers’ Interim Coach when Tommy Bowden got fired after Clemson’s 3-3 start to the 2008 season. Clemson was facing Georgia Tech at home when Swinney ran down the hill and shocked the crowd by giving Howard’s Rock a kiss before taking the field with his team. At the time it didn’t seem like much. However, it was an early sign that Swinney was going to put his blood, sweat and tears into the program. The season wasn’t pretty, but Swinney finished 4-3 as the Tigers Interim Coach and gave the program some much-needed momentum. Ten years later who would’ve known that Swinney would wind up winning four ACC Titles, two National Championships and considered one of the top coaches in the game.
The SEC left out of the 2004 National Championship: The regular season ended with four undefeated teams, including Auburn, Oklahoma, USC and Utah. However, the BCS format put the Sooners and Trojans against each other for all the marbles, Urban Meyer’s Utes in the Fiesta and the Tigers consolation prize was the Sugar Bowl. Unfortunately, the College Football Playoffs didn’t exist at the time. USC was the media darlings and Oklahoma had true freshman phenom running back Adrian Peterson. Utah had star quarterback Alex Smith. Auburn’s offense had three eventual NFL first-round draft picks in quarterback Jason Campbell and running backs Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and Ronnie Brown. The SEC had yet to become the ‘It’ conference and was passed over. Although the Tigers got the short end of the stick, they still finished the season 13-0 and changed the nation’s perception of the SEC.