June 2, 2011

Tressel latest in long line of disgraced coaches

Jim Tressel isn't the first college coach to leave his job in disgrace, and he won't be the last.

What makes Tressel's fall unique is that he was on top of the college football world. He won a national championship, played for two more, reached eight BCS games and finished in the top five of the AP poll seven times. That legacy ended with his resignation Monday, following his cover-up of NCAA violations by some of his players.

His on-field resume, including four Division I-AA championships at Youngstown State, is that of a College Football Hall Of Fame coach. But the revelations of the past few months put that legacy in doubt.

Here's a look at other college coaches who saw their careers take a turn for the worse because of issues beyond winning and losing. Some went on to coach again, and some may still. But all of these coaches saw their legacies tarnished by off-field problems.

This is not intended to be a definitive list; instead, it's a look at some of the most prominent examples of the past few decades.

FOOTBALL

Pete Carroll, USC: Carroll never was implicated personally in the NCAA sanctions that led to USC vacating 14 wins, forfeiting 30 scholarships and being banned from the postseason for two years. Nor did he lose his job because of the NCAA investigation into Reggie Bush. Carroll took the Seattle Seahawks' coaching job six months before the sanctions were levied, and critics blasted him for running away from USC's troubles. He arguably was the top coach of the decade, but the sanctions at USC will cast a shadow over Carroll should he ever seek to return to college sports or if his name comes up for Hall of Fame consideration. The investigation and sanctions at USC also claimed basketball coach Tim Floyd, who resigned amid accusations of payments to star swingman O.J. Mayo. Floyd became coach at UTEP before last season.

Bobby Collins, SMU: Though he can't be blamed for SMU receiving the death penalty in 1986, Collins was the coach presiding over the program when the Mustangs received the harshest sanctions in NCAA history. The NCAA already had slapped the program with probation under Collins' predecessor, Ron Meyer, but the worst was yet to come. Collins led SMU to its best season during the Mustangs' heyday during the '80s, going 11-0-1 in 1982. But he has been portrayed, most recently in the ESPN documentary "Pony Excess," as unprepared to handle SMU's growing NCAA problems. Collins went 91-44-3 at Southern Miss and SMU, but never coached in college again after SMU. After leaving SMU, Meyer coached nine seasons in the NFL, going 54-50 with the Patriots and Colts.

Woody Hayes, Ohio State: Tressel has company at Ohio State in going from campus hero to infamy. Hayes went 205-61-10, with 13 Big Ten titles, from 1951-78 and became a campus icon. As much as his intensity made him an Ohio State legend, it ended up costing him his job. Hayes punched Clemson defensive lineman Charlie Bauman after Bauman's game-sealing interception in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Hayes never coached again. Despite the incident that ended his coaching career, Hayes remains revered at Ohio State. It remains to be seen if Tressel will receive the same pass.

Frank Kush, Arizona State: By going 176-54-1 from 1958-78 as Arizona State moved from the WAC to the Pac-10, Kush is the most revered coach in Arizona State history. He's also one of the most infamous. His end came when player Kevin Rutledge sued Kush and the school, accusing the coach of punching him after a shanked punt. Athletic director Fred Miller made the controversial call to fire the coach in part because he believed Kush involved his assistants in a cover-up, though Kush denied punching Rutledge. Kush went on to coach in the CFL, NFL and USFL. Kush, now 82, will be honored by Arizona State at the school's "Legends Luncheon" in October.

Mike Leach, Texas Tech, Jim Leavitt, USF, Mark Mangino, Kansas: We are grouping these three together because they were let go for similar reasons between December 2009 and January 2010. All three took their programs to new heights Leach guided the Red Raiders to an 11-2 mark in 2008, Mangino went 12-1 with an Orange Bowl appearance in 2007 and Leavitt was the only coach in USF history. But all three were accused of mistreating players. Only Leavitt has returned to coaching, as linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers under former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.

Charley Pell, Florida: In the pre-Steve Spurrier days, Pell was one of Florida's more accomplished coaches, going 33-26-3 from 1979-84. After going winless in his first season, he guided the Gators to four consecutive bowl games. But the NCAA charged Florida with 107 rules violations, including spying on opponents and payments and loans to players. Florida received sanctions for 59 of those violations. Pell was fired three games into the 1984 season and never coached again. Pell's previous program, Clemson, also received NCAA sanctions for violations committed during his watch.

Barry Switzer, Oklahoma: Switzer led Oklahoma to its first national championships since the Bud Wilkinson era with titles in 1974, '75 and '85 (the Sooners were on probation in '74). He went 157-29-4 from 1973-88 before resigning in June 1989 amid an NCAA investigation and the ensuing probation. Switzer was troubled by NCAA rules that did not permit him to help a player in need. "How can any coach stick to these rules when a young man's father dies many miles away and the son has no money for a plane ticket home to the funeral?" Switzer said at the time. Switzer also was dealing with off-field criminal accusations regarding his players; three players had been charged with rape, and starting quarterback Charles Thompson was arrested for selling cocaine and ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated in his prison jumpsuit. Six years after resigning at Oklahoma, Switzer landed with the Dallas Cowboys and eventually led the team to a victory in Super Bowl XXX.

BASKETBALL

Dave Bliss, Baylor: Bliss won 526 games at Oklahoma, SMU, New Mexico and Baylor, but the end of his career at Baylor stands alone in its disgrace. Bliss was accused of paying players and hiding results of drug tests, which alone would have been enough to cost him his job. Bliss also attempted to cover-up his violations by portraying Bears forward Patrick Dennehy, who was murdered by a teammate, as a drug dealer. He attempted to rebuild his career as a high school coach, but in early May, he was accused of rules violations at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas, and fired.

Jim Harrick, UCLA: Harrick delivered UCLA's only post-John Wooden national championship with a 32-1 season in 1994-95. He was fired 19 months later. Harrick admittedly lied on an expense account for a dinner for three recruits and five of his players. This came after a Chevy Blazer, belonging to Harrick's son Glenn, was sold to a UCLA employee, who happened to be the sister of star guard Baron Davis. The car ended up in Davis' hands shortly after he committed to the Bruins. After UCLA, Harrick spent two seasons at Rhode Island and four at Georgia. His tenure in Athens ended in controversy, too. Another son, Jim Harrick Jr., committed academic fraud by giving A's to three basketball players who did not regularly attend class.

Clem Haskins, Minnesota: Haskins led Minnesota to its only Final Four in school history in 1997 but saw his career end with an academic scandal two seasons later. As the Gophers prepared for a first-round NCAA tournament game against Gonzaga (coincidentally coached by Haskins' eventual successor, Don Monson), the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that an academic counselor wrote papers and took take-home tests for players over a span of five years. The NCAA charged Haskins of being knowledgeable and complicit in the fraud. Haskins never coached again.

Bob Knight, Indiana: The Indiana icon picked up his 800th and 900th career wins in Lubbock, Texas, because he had been fired at Indiana on Sept. 10, 2000, after a run-in with a 19-year-old IU student. At the time, Knight was under a "zero-tolerance policy" levied by school president Myles Brand, who would become the president of the NCAA.

Bruce Pearl, Tennessee: Lying to the NCAA and misleading the athletic department never is good for a coach's job security. Pearl became another example of that in March. He was suspended first for lying to the NCAA about a photo of a recruit taken at Pearl's house. The administration supported their coach before it was revealed he failed to report a secondary recruiting violation four days after his suspension was announced. He was fired a few days after the Vols lost in the first round of the 2011 NCAA tourney.

Kelvin Sampson, Indiana: Illegal phone calls ended Sampson's coaching career and further set back Indiana's plans to return to prominence. Sampson won 280 games in 12 seasons and reached the 2002 Final Four at Oklahoma but took a troubled resume to Bloomington. When he was hired at IU, he was under NCAA probation because of 577 impermissible phone calls at Oklahoma. He did the same thing at Indiana, resulting in major violations and his firing late in the 2007-08 season (one of the assistants at IU who also was fired for impermissible phone calls was Rob Senderoff, who was hired in April as Kent State's new coach). Sampson now is an assistant with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.

Norm Sloan, Florida: Sloan was coach of the David Thompson-led North Carolina State team that won the 1974 national title and ended UCLA's run of seven consecutive national championships. He coached at Florida before and after his stint at NC State, but had trouble at both schools. NC State went 27-0 in 1973, but the Wolfpack didn't play in the NCAA tournament because of sanctions related to Thompson's recruitment. After 14 seasons at NCSU, Sloan returned to Florida in 1980, leading the Gators to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearances in 1987, '88 and '89. But his career ended in ignominy after star guard Vernon Maxwell admitted to using cocaine before a NCAA tournament game and taking cash from coaches. Florida landed on probation, and Sloan never coached again.

Eddie Sutton, Oklahoma State: Sutton reached the Final Four three times and took four teams to the NCAA tournament, but his Oklahoma State coaching career ended after a drunken-driving charge. He took medical leave after a car accident on Feb. 10, 2006, then elected to retire two wins short of 800. Sutton also resigned at Kentucky in 1989 amid a messy NCAA investigation that centered on money being sent by courier to top prospect Chris Mills. Sutton became interim coach at San Francisco for 19 games in the 2007-08 season and won six games to pass the 800 plateau for his career.

Jerry Tarkanian, UNLV: Like a handful of other coaches on this list, Tarkanian remains revered by his program's fan base. Unlike many of the coaches on this list, Tarkanian has not been content to fade into the background. He remains a critic of the NCAA, taking the organization all the way to the Supreme Court in 1988, two years before UNLV won the national championship. He accused the NCAA of harassment and not following due process. All three of his programs Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State were placed on probation, and his stormy tenure at UNLV (the school was placed on probation while Tarkanian was coach, then again after he left for other violations committed during his tenure) ended following the 1992 season after a photograph of three of his players in a hot tub with a convicted sports fixer was published. He returned to college coaching with Fresno State in 1995 and retired in 2002; NCAA probation followed for the Bulldogs.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.




 

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