Unsportsmanlike Conduct

College Football's Real-Life Top 25

16. CLEMSON (9-2)
After only two years on the job, Tigers' coach Tommy Bowden, son of Florida State's Bobby, has signed a contract extension through 2007—even though he was already under contract through 2004 at $825,000 per year. The new deal could be worth as much as $1.4 million per year depending on Clemson's regular-season victories and postseason performance. (Graduation rate, all students: 71%; football players: 56%; black players: 52%)

17. MICHIGAN (8-3)
The Maize and Blue's corporate sponsors certainly get their money's worth. According to the Detroit News, UM is giving executives at Bank One trips to bowl games on the team plane and rooms at the team hotel as part of the company's $1.8 million sponsorship of the football program. The deal reportedly also includes 10 autographed footballs and basketballs a year for Bank One executives and placement of Bank One ATMs in advertising-free Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines, meanwhile, dismissed captain and cornerback James Whitley from the team two weeks ago after he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. He was released on $10,000 bail and charges are still pending. (Graduation rate, all students: 83%; football players: 41%; black players: 28%)

The Wildcats broke the "Dyche Curse" this year with an 8-3 record. The curse was invoked three years ago after the school broke its promise to leave the William A. Dyche name on its stadium for eternity (Dyche literally paved the way for its construction in 1905 and reconstruction in the 1920s). NU changed the name to Ryan Field in 1997 after insurance executive and alum Patrick G. Ryan made a $20 million donation to the school. The 'Cats had finished 5-7, 3-9, and 3-8 in the seasons since the name change. The issue is revived every year because the Dyche family hires a plane to fly over the field with a banner that reads, "Welcome to Dyche Stadium." (Graduation rate, all students: 91%; football players: 88%; black players: 85%. Football players make up 20% of all black male undergrads.)

The Maize and Blue's corporate sponsors certainly get their money's worth.
illustration: Michael Dougan
The Maize and Blue's corporate sponsors certainly get their money's worth.

19. OHIO STATE (8-3)
OSU coach John Cooper suspended freshman receiver Andrew Lee indefinitely in October. Newspaper reports said the suspension stemmed from at least two incidents of physical altercations between Lee and others in his dorm. It's hardly a stiff punishment, since Cooper had planned to red-shirt him anyway. (Graduation rate, all students: 56%; football players: 28%; black players: 17%)

20. AUBURN (9-3)
Economics majors would have a field day with the Tigers program. Since 1992, this state school has paid out nearly $2.5 million to former coaches Terry Bowden, Pat Dye, Wayne Hall, and "Brother" Bill Oliver. This includes a $620,000 settlement with Bowden (another son of FSU's Bobby) after his messy resignation in 1998. Now, because of a recently signed contract extension, it will now pay current coach Tommy Tuberville $1.25 million annually starting next year. Hope he doesn't get fired soon. (Graduation rate, all students: 66%; football players: 43%; black players: 30%)

21. TENNESSEE (8-3)
The Vols welcomed offensive lineman Jason Respert to campus, even though he was arrested for attempted sexual battery during his official recruiting visit to Florida last winter. Respert allegedly tried to remove the pajama pants of a UF coed against her will. He ultimately entered a no-contest plea to misdemeanor charges of simple battery and trespassing and was placed on probation. The NCAA, meanwhile, is investigating a UT English professor's claim that the athletic department has taken questionable steps to keep athletes eligible. It is the second such investigation in Knoxville in the past two years. (Graduation rate, all students: 56%; football players: 41%; black players: 33%)

22. LOUISVILLE (9-2)
Five Cardinals were arrested in early December—less than three weeks before their scheduled appearance in the Liberty Bowl—after a fight in a local nightclub. Safety Justin Thomas was charged with felony assault of a police officer and misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree assault, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, failure to disperse, and disorderly conduct—and he is listed as questionable ("personal reasons") for the bowl game. Michael Brown (LB), Jason Hilliard (OT), Antoine Sims (OL), and B.J. Steele (LB) all face misdemeanor charges as well as a result of the same incident. All five pled not guilty and have a January court date. (Graduation rate, all students: 29%; football players: 33%; black players: 33%)

Troubled backup QB Steve Cutlip was suspended from the team and expelled from school in September after his fourth arrest in 17 months. (He recently mounted a successful appeal of his expulsion, and is currently undergoing counseling in hopes of rejoining the Rams on the field.) His indiscretions range from the sublime to the ridiculous. He started with a spring 1999 arrest at rival Wyoming in connection with a fraternity brawl. He pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of battery, criminal entry, and possession of alcohol by a minor. In the most recent incident, in August, he is accused of shoplifting a $4.49 box of markers. Those charges are still pending. (Graduation rate, all students: 58%; football players: 42%; black players: 41%)

24. GEORGIA (7-4)
The Bulldogs fired coach Jim Donnan earlier this month, but not before he raised eyebrows with the handling of his coaching staff. Last spring, he circumvented the school's anti-nepotism policy (which is based on a statewide statute) by having his son, Todd, hired both as an assistant football coach and a "field representative" with the Georgia Athletic Association Development office. The elder Donnan was also involved in a dispute with former Dawg defensive coordinator Kevin Ramsey. After Ramsey refused to accept a demotion to position coach (allegedly punching Donnan in the head during an argument over the decision), the university agreed to pay Ramsey his $127,000 salary with full benefits and also give him six months' severance (roughly $65,000). (Graduation rate, all students: 63%; football players: 51%; black players: 39%)

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