Game Misconducts

College Football's Real-Life Top 25

Bowl season is upon us again: Time to pull out the old school colors, the 'TV Guide,' and the phone number of your favorite bookie. But while you're glued to the tube or perusing the point spreads, be sure to remember what really matters in college football: arrest statistics, graduation rates, and coaches' salaries. That's the stuff of the Real-Life Top 25.


"When our defense is out there," coach Bobby Bowden has said. "I am just standing around picking my nose." The same could be said for when his players are off the field. Known as F(ree) S(hoes) U since 1993, when several Seminoles went on an agent-sponsored shopping spree at a Tallahassee FootLocker, the school became F(ree) S(hirts) U this fall thanks to receivers Peter Warrick and Laveraneus Coles. With the assistance of a store employee, the duo paid only $21 for more than $400 worth of clothing. The act cost Warrick, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was suspended two games, the Heisman. It cost Coles, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, a spot on the team. A sampling of other player endeavors: Defensive tackle Bryne Malone was arrested for attempted murder in connection with a drive-by shooting last spring and dismissed from the team, while cornerback Tay Cody was busted for marijuana possession in Georgia and suspended for one game. (Graduation rate, all students: 64%; football players: 60%; black players: 56%)

illustration by Jeff Wong


Hokies coach Frank Beamer has transformed Tech into a big-time program. But with big-time football comes big-time problems. As Beamer's team rang up back-to-back 10-2 seasons in 1995 and 96, 19 of his players were arrested on charges ranging from abduction to rape. In 1997, however, Tech instituted a plan that called for the immediate suspension of a player charged with a felony until the matter is resolved. Since then, only two Hokies have run afoul of the law, both this year: Linebacker Lorenzo Ferguson was charged with forgery and breaking and entering after allegedly stealing a student's checkbook from her dorm room and writing checks to himself (his case is still under investigation but he has left school). And back-up quarterback Andre Kendrick was arrested for marijuana possession; he was subsequently suspended and reinstated to the team. Still, to keep the sought-after Beamer at Tech, the school added a reported $1 million to the end of his current 10-year contract. (Graduation rate, all students: 73%; football players: 49%; black players: 47%)

3. NEBRASKA (11-1)

It's tough following a legend, but Frank Solich, successor to retired Husker coach Tom Osborne, has continued the latter's laissez-faire disciplinary style (Lawrence Phillips, anyone?). Starting senior wingback Shevin Wiggins was suspended in August after he was charged with felony sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl (he plead not guilty). Two freshmen that joined the team this season arrived with plenty of legal experience to go with their football résumé. Defensive lineman "Junior" Tagoai was arrested for threatening a teacher at his Nebraska high school last spring (the charges were later dropped). And Josh Davis, son of former Nebraska running back Tony Davis, is on probation after pleading guilty last spring to felony burglary and misdemeanor theft. (Graduation rate, all students: 48%; football players: 63%; black players: 60%)

4. WISCONSIN (9-2)

You might say coach Barry Alvarez's skills as a disciplinarian are for the birds. His son Chad, a UW senior, was arrested earlier this fall for microwaving his fraternity brother's parrot (the creature died, spurring cheers of "Win one for the bird!" at opposing stadiums). Alvarez didn't do much better with his players. Freshman Badger fullback Jael Speights pleaded no contest in October to sexual assault and burglary charges after he raped and beat a female student in her apartment. He was suspended from the team indefinitely and dropped out of school. (Graduation rate, all students: 73%; football players: 60%; black players: 63%. Athletes make up 39% of all black male undergrads.)

5. ALABAMA (10-2)

It was the summer of discontent for Tide coach Mike DuBose, who had an affair with an athletic department employee, lied about it during an investigation, and was sued for sexual harassment. What was the worst of times became the best of times, however. In August, 'Bama's board of trustees decided to sanction the coach rather than firing him, reducing his salary $360,000, but agreeing to pay a $350,000 legal settlement for him. Even better, after his team's SEC championship season, the university decided to reward DuBose with a two-year contract extension. (Graduation rate, all students: 57%; football players: 45%; black players: 33%)

6. TENNESSEE (9-2)

Last year's champs might have fallen even harder had allegations raised in a September ESPN report been true. According to the report, a team tutor wrote papers and did homework for at least five players during the school's national championship run last year. The story sparked an internal investigation, which UT officials said failed to uncover any NCAA violations. Vol players and coaches accused ESPN of unfairly targeting the program. Still, at least three Vols have been arrested since the team triumphed in last year's Fiesta Bowl. Offensive guard Fred Weary and defensive end Shaun Ellis were both arrested last spring—Weary for driving on a suspended license, Ellis for assault. Senior cocaptain and defensive back Dwayne Goodrich was arrested earlier this fall for disorderly conduct. He was suspended for one game. (Graduation rate, all students: 55%; football players: 34%; black players: 24%)

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