CFB’s Top 10 Coaching Confrontations Since 2000
Often times, the tensions that run at a fever pitch between college football players are nothing compared to the fireworks between opposing head coaches. We count down the Top 10 Coaching Confrontations Since 2000.
Late in its 42-0, season-opening win over Akron in 2011, Ohio State could have easily taken a knee to run out the clock. Instead, the Buckeyes called three straight run plays for RB Carlos Hyde, hoping to get him 100 yards on the afternoon. (He finished seven yards short of the century mark.)
Then-Zips head coach Rob Ianello took exception to his team being used for milestone fodder like that. He made his postgame handshake with the Buckeyes’s Luke Fickell a brief one, telling him, “I don’t think that’s real good sportsmanship but good luck the rest of the season.”
We get the sense that Ianello wasn’t entirely genuine with that last sentiment.
Prior to his No. 14 Oklahoma State squad’s 2003 matchup against a top-ranked Oklahoma team that many were calling one of the best ever, then-Pokes head coach Les Miles tried to downplay the David-vs.-Goliath aspect of it by saying, ‘They’re the best team in college football ... we’re told.”
The Sooners made good on that praise by thrashing the Cowboys, 52-9. While OU head coach Bob Stoops had just intended to say, “Good game” and walk off, Miles wanted a drawn out conversation.
"I just said, 'Good game,' and started to walk off," Stoops explained afterward. "He grabbed me and said, 'I guess we found out who the No. 1' ... I didn't listen. 'I guess we found out who the No. 1 team was.' Or something. I just heard part of it. I was halfway gone. ... He doesn't need to tell me what we are. I believe there's enough sarcasm in the media that coaches shouldn't promote it."
Of all the confrontations on this list, this one is definitely the most one-sided - in that only one side of this “feud” thinks there’s a fight to be had.
During his lone season as Nebraska’s defensive coordinator, in 2003, Pelini thought that Kansas State had run up the score on the Huskers in a 38-9 win by continuing to play their starters against Nebraska’s senior walk-ons late in the game.
No other title but “Bo Pelini is a raving lunatic” would suffice for this video. None.
With his LSU team leading Arkansas, 38-17, and just over five minutes left in the two teams’ 2011 matchup, Les Miles sent PK Drew Alleman out for a 37-yard field goal rather than go for it on 4th-and-6 at the Razorbacks’ 20-yard-line.
It was likely the right call, as the Hogs had an explosive offense that could score three touchdowns in a short period of time. Alleman’s kick, which was good, gave the Tigers a four-score, 41-17 lead.
Yet anyone watching could tell that Petrino - who pointed and yelled, “F**k you, mother f**ker!” at Miles from across the field - was less than pleased with this logic.
Trailing the Tigers 35-7 late in the first half last Saturday, Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer was apparently incensed that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney elected to try and score another touchdown instead of kick a field goal on fourth down.
When the Orange made the stop, Shafer exploded and appeared to yell, "F**k you, Dabo! You motherf**ker!" When told about it after the game, Swinney responded by asking, "Were we supposed to take a knee?"
Swinney had a point; is it really running up the score when it’s not even halftime?
In 2010 against Minnesota, then-Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema did not hesitate to go for two despite the Badgers holding a commanding 41-16 lead with 6:39 left in the game.
As he tried to explain to Brewster in the postgame handshake, Bielema was just abiding by “the card” that apparently says you should go for two when leading by 25. Clearly Brewster didn’t have that same card in his possession.
"I thought it was a very poor decision by a head football coach and he'll have to live with that," Brewster told reporters after cussing out Bielema. "It was wrong. Everybody in here knows it and everybody in college football knows it. It was wrong."
Following Washington State’s 42-0 victory over Idaho earlier this season, Vandals head coach Paul Petrino said something to Wazzu counterpart Mike Leach that Leach didn’t take kindly too. “F**k you!” replied Leach, who had to be held back from going after Petrino and vice versa.
“That would be strictly between he and I, so anything said between us would be private,” Leach told reporters when they asked him about the cause of the tiff. “So we’ll leave it at that.”
Harbaugh proudly boasts two of the chillier coaching confrontations at both the college and NFL levels in recent years. His overly aggressive handshake with Detroit Lions counterpart Jim Schwartz in 2011 has been dissected six ways from Sunday. Two years before that, he had a similarly icy exchange with USC’s Pete Carroll during his Stanford days.
Late in the Cardinal’s 55-21 rout of the Trojans in 2009, Harbaugh had his team attempt a two-point conversion which, successfully converted, put them up 48-21. After the game, Carroll asked Harbaugh, “What’s your deal?” To which Harbaugh replied in grade school manner, “What’s your deal?”
As fate would have it, Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers) and Carroll (Seattle Seahawks) are now on opposite sides of one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL today.
The Bulldogs escaped an upset bid from Vandy in 2011 in a bitterly fought, 33-28 win. Afterward, Commodores head coach James Franklin nearly came to blows with Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and nearly set off a team-wide fight.
"Some things were said that I didn't think were appropriate and I tried to find [head coach Mark] Richt to address it,” Franklin told reporters afterward. “I couldn't find coach Richt and I happened to have a discussion with one of their assistant coaches and it didn't go well."
Talk about an understatement. Franklin’s likely not the only SEC coach who takes umbrage with Grantham’s antics. Just the season before, the Dawgs’ DC landed in hot water when cameras caught him making the “choke” sign to Florida’s kicker during overtime of their game.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Language in video above is NSFW.]
Last fall, Wyoming’s Dave Christensen was convinced that Air Force’s Troy Calhoun had Falcons QB Connor Dietz fake an injury that would result in a timeout so as to get more time with which to devise a play. (Dietz’s backup, Kale Pearson, ended up scoring the go-ahead touchdown on the following play.)
The postgame rant that Christensen unleashed was just epic: “Nice ethics man! Lay on the ground, he f*ckin’ walks 20 yards! ... Yeah, right, look at me, Mr. Howdy Doody! Get in your f*ckin’ locker room! That’s f*ckin’ bullsh*t!” You have no f*ckin’ ethics, Troy! No f*ckin’ integrity! ... Get in your f*ckin’ press conference, fly boy!”
Enough curse words to make a sailor blush? The derogatory Air Force term “fly boy”? An embarrassed daughter trying to get her father to stop? A one-game suspension and a $50,000 fine? Our pick for the top College Football Coaching Confrontation since 2000 has it all.
Posted: October 8, 2013