CFB’s Top 10 Most Bizarre Moments Ever
T-10. Mike Gundy's Rant (2007)
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The media and public at-large cannot (will not?) stop talking about the Manti Te’o fake dead girlfriend hoax. Where does it rank among the Top 10 Most Bizarre Moments in College Football History? We compiled our rankings based on the absurdity and shock of each incident (FBS only).
Coaching meltdowns are nothing new to college football or sports in general, but Mike Gundy’s rant after a 2007 game might be the most quoted and bizarre of all time.
Justifiably upset over a column that ridiculed then-backup QB Bobby Reid, Gundy became unhinged with a long, winding rant that went off on bizarre tangents and has left YouTube viewers puzzled and giggling for years. The rant will be forever remembered for Gundy’s coup de grâce to the reporter: “COME AFTER ME! I’M A MAN! I’M 40! I’M NOT A KID.”
T-10. Gary Moeller's Drunken Outburst (1995)
A longtime assistant of Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller was supposed to be the next distinguished “Michigan Man” to lead the Wolverines when he took over as head coach in 1990.That all changed in 1995 after a drunken outburst during dinner at a local restaurant that defies description.
As reported by Sports Illustrated: “The accounts depict a 54-year-old man loosed of all self-control, smashing drink glasses on his table, singing loudly and attempting to dance with women after his wife, Ann, left the restaurant to wait for him in their car… After punching an officer in the chest, Moeller was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and assault and battery… But it was a tape recording police made of Moeller at nearby Providence Hospital, where they took him for fear he was suffering from alcohol poisoning, that shows a man alternately abusive, tearful, incoherent and relentlessly vulgar…”
Check, please? Moeller resigned the next day, but not before forever disgracing himself and making people think twice about grabbing dinner with the Moellers.
9. Bobby Petrino’s Motorcycle Accident (2012)
Then-Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino was banged-up in a motorcycle accident last April, but it paled in comparison to the tawdriness of what followed and the damage he did to his reputation and Arkansas football. His passenger was 25-year-old football staffer Jessica Dorrell, with whom he has having an affair.
Petrino was put on leave shortly after the facts came out. To make matters worse, it was revealed shortly thereafter that Petrino had also exchanged hundreds of texts with a bikini pageant contestant, Alison Melder.
The imagery of Petrino with his face scarred and in a neck brace plus the craziness of a motorcycle crash conspiracy with a former Arkansas volleyball player half his age set the internet on fire, as Petrino became a national punchline.
8. George O’Leary’s Falsified Resume (2001)
The Te’o girlfriend hoax wasn’t the first time that Notre Dame was forced to deal with bizarre untruths. Just five days after the Irish hired him away from Georgia Tech in 2001, George O’Leary resigned as the Irish’s head coach after inaccuracies were discovered on his resume.
O’Leary claimed he received a master of science degree in education from New York University (which he didn’t) and that he earned three varsity letters for football at the University of New Hampshire (from which he graduated but for whom he never played football). Why would O’Leary lie about such unimportant things for the most prestigious job in college football? Apparently he embellished his resume years earlier when looking for work and never corrected it.
For a proud program like Notre Dame attempting to recapture it’s glory years, it proved a humiliating step in the wrong direction.
7. Fifth Down Game (1990)
Officials are often accused of being blind, but not being able to count? The 1990 game between Colorado and Missouri established rock bottom for college football’s refs.
After a run on 2nd-and-Goal by Colorado in the waning seconds of the game, the down marker was not flipped to third down as the Buffaloes called a timeout. Stuffed on third and goal, QB Charles Johnson then spiked the ball on fourth down because the down marker still said “3.”
Without anyone on the field correcting the refs, the Buffaloes scored on “fifth down” for the 33-31 win. Adding to the surreal moment, Missouri fans started rushing the field and tearing down the goal posts believing that Mizzou had won.
While the fifth down mistake was caught after the game, the referees upheld Colorado’s victory, which propelled the Buffaloes to a national title.
6. Wrong Way Riegels (1929)
If you thought Kent State LB Andre Parker running the wrong way on a muffed punt last fall was absurd, let us introduce you to Roy “Wrong Way” Riegels.
During the 1929 Rose Bowl, the Cal defensive lineman picked up a fumble by Georgia Tech’s Jack “Stumpy” Thomason. Instead of running 30 yards the right way for a touchdown, Riegels got turned around and ran 69 yards the wrong way before teammates alerted him to his mistake. It was too late and Riegels was tackled at Cal’s own one-yard line. Unlike Parker’s gaffe, this one stood.
Cal took over the ball there and had its punt from the end zone blocked for a safety. The Bears wound up losing the game, 8-7. Oops.
5. Mike Price’s Night Out (2003)
Like O’Leary at Notre Dame two years before, Mike Price was forced out at Alabama before ever coaching a regular season game. At the very least, his six-month tenure in Tuscaloosa was definitely adventurous.
Price was fired shortly after reports surfaced of his appearance and behavior at a strip club while he was in Pensacola, FL, for a charity golf tournament. The most damning allegations came courtesy of a May 2003 Sports Illustrated story in which Price was reported to have had sex with two strippers in his hotel room. The alleged details from SI were salacious, to say the least: “She said that at one point she and her female companion decided to add a little levity to the [sex]: ‘We started screaming Roll Tide!’ and he was yelling back, ‘It’s rolling, baby, it’s rolling.’”
Price sued the magazine for $20 million for defamation and slander, receiving a settlement from SI in October 2005. Whatever exactly happened that night, Price lost his dream job almost as soon as it began.
4. Woody Hayes’ Punch (1978)
Woody Hayes channeled his legendary temper and volatility into five claimed national titles in his 28 seasons at Ohio State. But ultimately, it also ended his career in disgrace.
With the Buckeyes trailing Clemson by two points late in the 1978 Gator Bowl, OSU quarterback Art Schlichter was intercepted by Tigers nose guard Charlie Bauman, who was knocked out of bounds on the Ohio State sideline after his return. When Bauman rose to his feet and taunted the Buckeyes’ sideline, Hayes punched him in the throat, setting off a bench-clearing brawl.
Following the game, then-Buckeyes AD Hugh Hindman offered Hayes a chance to resign. The coach’s reply was classic Hayes: “That would make it too easy for you. You had better go ahead and fire me.” Hindman did the following morning.
3. Manti Te’o’s Fake Dead Girlfriend (2013)
Deadspin’s Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey said it best in their original story: “Did you enjoy the uplifting story, the tale of a man who responded to adversity by becoming one of the top players of the game? If so, stop reading.”
While Te’o did lose his grandmother, girlfriend Lennay Kekua was a complete hoax. As Burke and Dickey alluded to, fans and media outlets gleefully ran with the inspiring story of how Te’o responded to the grief of losing two loved ones in a 24-hour period to lead Notre Dame back to glory and become a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate.
The conversation this has generated and the state of shock it left people in is up there with the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding story, Tiger Woods’ affair, the O.J. Simpson car chase and Mike Tyson biting off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear.
Sometimes things really are too good to be true.
2. Lewis Losses It (1954)
Being on the sideline while watching a player from the other team score a touchdown is a helpless feeling for a football player. In the 1954 Cotton Bowl, Alabama’s Tommy Lewis decided to change that.
Rice’s Dicky Maegle took a pitch at the Owls’ own five-yard and busted it loose for what appeared to be a touchdown while streaking down the Crimson Tide sideline. Trailing 7-6 at that point, Lewis couldn’t stand the thought of falling further behind and came off the sideline near midfield to tackle Maegle without even putting a helmet on.
As soon as Maegle hit the ground, Lewis realized what he’d done and went back to the bench looking for a place to hide. Now one of the most famous plays in college football history, it’s needless to say that strategy didn’t work.
1. The Play (1982)
Here’s a guarantee: We will never see another five-lateral, game-winning play with a band on the field and a trombone player getting leveled in the end zone.
“The Play” to end the 1980 Cal-Stanford game is the most famous moment in college football history because it’s also the most bizarre. With Cal trailing 20-19 after a Stanford field goal with four seconds left, Stanford’s squib kick resulted in a five-lateral miracle that ended with Cal DB Kevin Moen accidentally trucking clueless trombone player Gary Tyrrell after scoring a touchdown.
As play-by-play man Joe Starkey aptly put it: “Oh my God, the most amazing, sensational, traumatic, heart rending… exciting thrilling finish in the history of college football!” Not to mention the most bizarre moment in the sport’s history, one that will likely never be surpassed.