Unsportsmanlike Conduct

College Football's Real-Life Top 25

Like cold and flu season, the College Bowl games are upon us again. So while you gather up the remote control, TV Guide, and tubs and tubs of popcorn, be sure to arm yourself with the facts as well. Luckily, they're collected here in the Real-Life Top 25. No, not rushing yards, fumbles lost, and third-down efficiency. We've got the good stuff. Read on . . .

1. OKLAHOMA (12-0)
Few question the Sooners' place at the top of the polls, but some may question their priorities, especially since OU administrators decided to cancel classes for a day to celebrate their home win over Nebraska. Let's hope freshman offensive lineman Wes Sims kept busy. While still an OU recruit, Sims was given a one-year deferred sentence, ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, and spent a weekend in jail after he and some high school teammates decided to toss water balloons from a highway overpass. One balloon shattered the windshield of a passing automobile. Sims wasn't the only Sooner in trouble. Seven current and former players—Nick Simpson (LB), Jarrail Jackson (WR), Corey Callens (DT), Johnnie Balous (RB), Ontei Jones (S), Michael Thornton (RB), and Anthony Davis (LB)—are being sued by two Oklahoma City men who claim the players attacked them during a campus party in November 1999. The plaintiffs are seeking $10,000 per player in damages. The case is still pending. (Graduation rate, all students: 45%; football players: 35%; black players: 26%)

2. MIAMI (10-1)
Let's hope defensive end Jamaal Green hits as hard on the field as he does in bars. Green was suspended the first two games of the season after he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery in March for reportedly breaking a man's jaw in a fight at a drinking establishment. Green entered a pretrial diversion program, where he made restitution and took anger control classes. Meanwhile, head coach Butch Davis needs to control his envy streak. In November, he complained to the media that his salary (a reported $900,000) "isn't even in the top 30 among college coaches." (Graduation rate, all students: 59%; football players: 46%; black players: 48%)

3. FLORIDA STATE (11-1)
Last season, shoplifting charges arguably cost FSU wideout Peter Warrick the Heisman Trophy (he pled guilty to a misdemeanor after allegedly paying only $21.40 for more than $400 worth of clothing from a Dillard's department store). 'Noles coach Bobby Bowden said Warrick only "went out and got a discount." Same could be said for current FSU defensive back Derrick Gibson, who was arrested this summer for solicitation after allegedly offering $10 for sex to an undercover police officer. He pled no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 50 hours of community service, $240 in fines, and six months' probation. (Graduation rate, all students: 64%; football players: 59%; black players: 54%)

4. WASHINGTON (10-1)
This season, the Pac-10 champions played as aggressively on the field as they've been behaving off it. Last spring, cornerback Omare Lowe and wide receiver/kick returner Terry Tharps both pled guilty to first-degree trespassing after a being arrested for fighting at a UW frat house in May 1999. Lowe received a deferred sentence on the condition that he perform 80 hours of community service. Tharps received a suspended sentence on the condition that he perform 160 hours of community service (and two years' probation). Defensive end Roger Faagata had already been sentenced to 10 days in jail for two counts of misdemeanor assault in the same matter. In another incident, Coach Rick Neuheisel had to bench then UW senior defensive end Mac Tuiaea for the first half of last year's Holiday Bowl after the player was arrested for driving under the influence. Tuiaea had been on his way home from a team-sponsored dinner party at which alcohol was sold. He pled guilty last May and received a suspended sentence. (Graduation rate, all students: 70%; football players: 56%; black players: 54%)

5. OREGON STATE (10-1)
The Beavers proved as competitive with Pac-10 rivals and conference co-champs Washington in the bad-behavior department as they were in the football standings. Receivers Robert Prescott, Alton "Junior" Adams, and James Newson are all currently facing third-degree assault charges for allegedly beating an OSU senior in July 2000. Each received a three-game suspension, even though, at press time, the charges were still pending (Prescott and Adams had entered not-guilty pleas; Newson has yet to enter a plea). This is arguably a departure for coach Dennis Erickson. During his troubled tenure at the University of Miami, 12 of Erickson's players were arrested in one season (1994) on various charges. He only suspended two of them. (Graduation rate, all students: 60%; football players: 53%; black players: 40%)

6. VIRGINIA TECH (10-1)
Tech is one of more than 30 schools with separate guidelines for athletes and members of the student body at large. The school adopted the policy after 20 Hokie players were arrested from 1995-97. Since then, discipline has been placed in the hands of the AD, who, last spring, suspended defensive end Derrius Monroe indefinitely after he was indicted on cocaine distribution charges. As part of a plea bargain, the charges were dropped and Monroe was placed on two years' probation in exchange for testimony against the distribution ring's alleged leader, former Tech football player Manny Clemente. Weaver allowed Monroe to practice with the team this fall, but his future at the school reportedly remains in doubt. (Graduation rate, all students: 72%; football players: 45%; black players: 45%)

7. FLORIDA (10-2)
Last spring, Gators coach Steve Spurrier threw receiver Derrick Jabar Gaffney off the team and revoked his scholarship. Gaffney was accused of stealing $245 and a gold watch from the Florida Field locker room during the state HS football championships, which were held there in December 1999. Gaffney later admitted to stealing $40 and agreed to pay $175 restitution; in exchange, no charges were filed. Spurrier reinstated him as a walk-on in August but had to "suspend" him for half a game after he made the dreaded throat-slash gesture following his game-winning TD catch at Tennessee in September. He may get his scholarship back next month. (Graduation rate, all students: 65%; football players: 50%; black players: 50%)

8. OREGON (9-2)
UO president Dave Frohnmayer fumbled a political football when he decided to stop paying dues to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an anti-sweatshop group the school joined in response to campus demonstrations. In making the decision, Frohnmayer cited dubious concerns about the school's liability should the nonprofit organization be sued. Many, however, think it had more to do with Nike CEO and UO alum Phil Knight. Knight initially reneged on a promised $30 million to expand the Ducks' football stadium when UO joined the WRC last spring. Oregon students accused Frohnmayer of making the decision to abandon the WRC in hopes that Knight would once again donate money to the school. (Graduation rate, all students: 58%; football players: 58%; black players: 45%)

9. NEBRASKA (9-2)
How'd you like to be a fly on the wall when Cornhuskers' defensive end Chris Kelsay and linebacker Mark Vedral hang out? Last spring, Kelsay's one-time girlfriend accused Vedral of rape. Vedral was cleared of charges at the trial in September, but testified that he had consensual sex with the woman. (Graduation rate, all students: 47%; football players: 57%; black players: 52%)

10. NOTRE DAME (9-2)
The Golden Dome has definitely been blemished in recent years. An age-discrimination lawsuit filed in 1998 by former assistant coach Joe Moore (who had been fired by head coach Bob Davie) resulted in an $86,000 jury-awarded settlement. Then, a 1999 NCAA investigation revealed that more than a dozen football players received gifts, trips, and money from a booster who had embezzled $1.4 million from her employer. Still, at 9-2, the Irish are on their way to a big-time bowl—the Fiesta—and a $13.5 million windfall. That's more than enough to cover legal fees, as well as Davie's new two-year contract extension. (Graduation rate, all students: 94%; football players: 82%; black players: 80%. Football players make up 33% of all black male undergrads.)

11. KANSAS STATE (10-3)
K-State pays its coach, Bill Snyder, roughly $1 million annually, and recently shelled out $13.3 million on stadium renovations. All that money and still one of the lamest schedules in college ball. This year, the Wildcats beat up on Louisiana Tech, Ball State, and North Texas for their annual early-season slate of cupcakes. Snyder, meanwhile, routinely incurs the wrath of his coaching brethren by refusing to announce player injuries during the week before games. (Graduation rate, all students: 50%; football players: 44%; black players: 25%)

12. TEXAS (9-2)
When the Longhorns opted to back out of their scheduled early-September game at Hawaii, Rainbows coach June Jones accused the school of "backing down from a fight." AD DeLoss Dodds said UT actually wanted to reduce the team's travel expenses—probably to cover its coach's salary. The school paper, The Daily Texan, reported in August that four of the top five UT salaries go to athletic department officials. Top 'Horn is football coach Mack Brown, who now receives a salary of $1.45 million a year, thanks to a recent extension. (Graduation rate, all students: 65%; football players: 56%; black players: 43%)

13. TCU (10-1)
The Horned Frogs spent an estimated $90,000 (including TV and radio ads, billboards, and bumper stickers) on a Heisman campaign for star tailback LaDainian Tomlinson, who was, at best, a dark horse in the race. A Web site featuring highlights of Tomlinson's career, biographical information, and "extras" such as "LT" wallpaper and screen savers cost $30,000 alone. Despite rushing for more than 2000 yards this season, however, Tomlinson finished a distant fourth in Heisman voting. (Graduation rate, all students: 62%; football players: 42%; black players: 34%. Football players make up 41% of all black male undergrads.)

14. PURDUE (8-3)
Kicker Travis Dorsch's performance against Michigan in October was truly for the birds. Dorsch, whose missed field goals have cost the Boilermakers three games over the past two seasons, missed a go-ahead 32-yard field goal with 2:11 left in the contest against the Wolverines and heard boos from the home crowd in West Lafayette, Indiana. Given one more chance with four seconds left, however, he made a 33-yarder to give Purdue a 32-31 victory. He celebrated by raising both arms—middle fingers extended toward the fans. Coach Joe Tiller opted not to suspend Dorsch, who issued a public apology. (Graduation rate, all students: 65%; football players: 54%; black players: 42%)

15. GEORGIA TECH (9-2)
To "teach" offensive lineman Dustin Vaitekunas what poor pass blocking looks like to a quarterback, Tech coach George O'Leary had four of his defensive players charge the second stringer at full speed during practice this fall. Two of them leveled the player, who spent several minutes on the ground gasping for breath after the incident. He has since quit the team and school and is mulling litigation for physical and mental injury. The school did not discipline O'Leary. In fact, he was recently given a six-year contract extension and named ACC Coach of the Year. (Graduation rate, all students: 68%; football players: 37%; black players: 31%)

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%)

18. NORTHWESTERN (8-3)
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.)

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 formercoaches 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%)

23. COLORADO STATE (9-2)
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%)

25. TOLEDO (10-1)
Coach Gary Pinkel said he remained at this relatively small football school because he wanted his kids to graduate from the same high school. But with his youngest son in the middle of his senior year, it's apparent that Pinkel wanted to make some money as well. He left his bowl-bound team to sign a five-year contract with the bigger University of Missouri—which offered him a reported $900,000 per annum, including salary and extras—taking seven Rocket assistant coaches with him. He made about $200,000 at Toledo. (Graduation rate, all students: 37%; football players: 55%; black players: 44%)

This poll combines the AP rankings with NCAA findings on institutional ethical conduct, graduation rates, and exploitation of African American athletes. Graduation rates and enrollment data cover entering freshman from '90-'91 through '93-'94, all given six years to get degrees.

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