The Most Hated Coaches in College Sports Today
They say it’s better to be hated than to be ignored, and that is true enough in college sports. The easiest coach to hate is the one who, year after year, orchestrates one beat down after another over your beloved alma mater. But it takes a special kind of person to command massive amounts of hate even after he leaves the division, the conference, or even the sport itself. These coaches have the monstrous egos, the acid tongues, the short memories, or the flexible morals to pull off just that.
Internet forums are hardly the place to conduct academic research, but on a topic like this, one name arises again and again: Bret Bielema. The Wisconsin football coach just seems to rub people the wrong way. UW fans hated him after their 7-6 2008 season, and now everyone else in the Big Ten hates him for going 32-8 the next three years. But it’s more than just a record issue. Bielema alienates people by doing things like refusing to send game tape to Oregon State and going for two while up by 25 with four minutes left in a game against rival Minnesota. And saying the Big Ten “doesn’t want to be like the SEC in any way, shape, or form” is bound to ruffle some feathers.
Cheating on your wife of more than 30 years by having 15 seconds of sex with a woman in a restaurant booth who then extorts you for abortion money touches pretty much all the bases for earning universal hatred from America. That was 2009, 12 years after putting in his two weeks’ notice at Kentucky‘s basketball program to take a coaching gig with the Boston Celtics, a move that many UK fans are still bitter about. To make matters worse, when he returned to the college level, it was with hated rival Louisville. Pitino’s apparent feud with current Kentucky coach John Calipari continues to be one of the most talked-about conflicts in all of sports.
Let’s see, which group has cause to hate the Head Ball Coach more? Could it be the media? The South Carolina coach has boycotted questions at press conferences over doubts about his decision-making and fired off nastygrams to media members for the slightest slights. Or what about Georgia fans, a school with a football team Spurrier enjoys playing because “you can always count on them having two or three key players suspended.” Whether it’s dissing both John Calipari and Nick Saban in a single blow, cracking Auburn for having a soft schedule, or calling Florida State “Free Shoes University” (a dig at a Foot Locker deal), Spurrier has made a long career out of being the guy college sports fans love to hate.
Technically this coach isn’t “in” college sports right now, but it’s just a matter of time before the smoke from his firing clears and another school opts to avail themselves of his 75-26 college coaching record (Kentucky, Auburn and even Arkansas have been floated as possibilities). It was the legendary PR nightmare of the married Petrino hiring his mistress, lying about it, then crashing his motorcycle with her on the back in 2012 that gave longtime Petrino haters enough fuel to last a lifetime. It was confirmation that the guy who had led the Atlanta Falcons to a 3-10 record before peacing-out to coach Louisville in the middle of the season was as deserving of their hate as they had known for years.
There are some things we can always count on: death, taxes, and Lane Kiffin being Lane Kiffin. When reports claim Kiffin is a changed man, they refer to the rep he developed at Tennessee, like accusing coach Urban Meyer of cheating in recruiting when in fact, Kiffin was the cheater. Vols fans would have defended them, but instead he enraged them by ditching them for Southern Cal and taking some coaches and star athletes with him. His recent pettiness of childish, 29-second press conferences and refusing to let other teams do walkthroughs at USC’s stadium have reassured us all that there is no new and improved Lane Kiffin. There’s only the same “insufferable jackass” we’ve come to know.
“Snide” … “sardonic” … “smug” … “self-righteous.” These are some of the descriptors you’ll find peppering any conversation involving Oregon’s football coach. Certainly Chip Kelly has reason to be smug. The man has racked up coaching awards, and with good reason; he wins games. He’s got a 41-6 overall record, he owns Oregon State, and (as of right now) he’s got the No. 2 team in the country. But he’s also turned off the media by closing practices, turned off his own fans by telling some of them to “shut up”, and turned off pretty much anyone who hates braggers by bragging his team would play (and win) in the parking lot, if necessary.
Even with a name that’s so similar, nicknaming someone after the Prince of Darkness is a fairly strong step to take, even for sports fans. But sure enough, “Nick Satan” is a common refrain among the haters, of which there are many for the Alabama coach. Miami Dolphin fans still call him by the name for the way he left their house in flames following a 6-10 season, during which he maintained to reporters, “I guess I have to say it. I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.” Lies, Nick, lies! Two national titles since returning to college football have only increased the loathing SEC fans have for him. Even his own players can muster little more compliments for the man than “he has a dry sense of humor.”
In May, before he’d even had time to strap on the honorary sweater vest, voters in an ESPN poll determined the new head football coach at OSU was the most disliked coach in the Big Ten. Obviously a large part of the hate is overflow from the vitriol The Ohio State University attracts by consistently winning, coupled with lingering public disgust over a bribery scandal complete with Jim Tressel cover-up. But Meyer dabbled in Sabanism when he abandoned his post at Florida to “spend time with his family,” only to realize that’s what nights and weekends are for and move to Ohio. Suffice to say, many Gator fans are rabid for an OSU-Florida meet-up.
Another coach, another terribly mishandled exit. What is it about this profession that makes it so difficult to accept a new position with class and grace? Shortly after reportedly saying how much he loved coaching football at Cincinnati, Kelly informed his players at a team banquet he was leaving for Notre Dame just before their game against Florida in the Sugar Bowl. The disoriented Bearcats were subsequently stomped 51-24, a punishing loss fans still believe damaged the Big East’s perception on the national stage. He has since stepped on some toes by implying the recruits he brought in are awesome and the ones his predecessor signed — who were still playing — were pretty much chopped liver.