The Real Top 25

The Worst of the Best in College Football

We're always bombarded with too much crapola about 'student athletes' and not enough hard info about the childish, boorish—or often criminal—behavior of college football players and their coaches. george o'leary's lies put him in a class by himself, but neither georgia tech nor notre dame made the a.p. top 25. curious george aside, here's our annual look at the worst of the best.

1. MIAMI (11-0)
Before you call the current crop of 'Canes classy compared to their 1980s counterparts, talk to the groundskeepers at Florida State's Doak Campbell Stadium. During a pre-game walk-through the night before the two schools' annual grudge match in October, several Hurricane players reportedly used their cleats to scrawl "UM" in the turf around the FSU Seminole logo at the center of the field. Groundskeepers were able to fix it by kickoff the next day, but not before UM's reputation was sullied once again. (Graduation rate, all students: 60 percent; football players: 41 percent)

Illustration by Stan Shaw

2. OREGON (10-1)
Joey who? As the Voice reported last summer, folks in Eugene are still wondering who paid the $250,000 price tag for the 12-story-high banner touting Duck QB Joey Harrington as a Heisman candidate. Given the high profile of the Nike swoosh in the ad, many assume it was the work of Nike founder and U of O super-alum Phil Knight. The university, however, told the Voice that the banner was funded by a group of "confidential donors." Students in Eugene have been concerned about Knight's influence in university affairs ever since the school opted to stop paying dues to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an anti-sweatshop group. Knight had reneged on a promised $30 million donation to expand the Ducks' football stadium when UO joined the WRC the previous spring. (Graduation rate, all students: 58 percent; football players: 61 percent)

3. COLORADO (10-2)
Memo to the Buffs: Do what your coaches say, not what they do. Former CU star and current running-backs coach Eric Bieniemy was arrested for DUI last spring. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving with ability impaired and was sentenced to $400 in fines, 48 hours of community service, and two years' probation for alcohol evaluation. CU also docked Bieniemy one month's pay (roughly $5500). Three months later, defensive end Sam Wilder was charged with DUI. He also pleaded guilty to driving with ability impaired and was fined $400 and placed on 18 months' probation. (Graduation rate, all students: 63 percent; football players: 45 percent)

4. NEBRASKA (11-1)
Big Red has always meant big trouble, on and off the field. In September, kicker Josh Brown was convicted of assault for fighting with a man on a date with Brown's ex-girlfriend. In August, Husker running back Dahrran Diedrick was fined $100 for failing to disperse after a disturbance outside a Lincoln bar. Finally, Diedrick's backup, Thunder Collins, was arrested and charged in June with assaulting his live-in girlfriend, Nebraska basketball player Shannon Howell. Collins's charges were dropped in September when he agreed to enter a pre-trial diversion program. Cornhusker coach Frank Solich suspended all three for one game each and ordered both Brown and Collins to undergo counseling for anger management. (Graduation rate, all students: 48 percent; football players: 53 percent)

5. FLORIDA (9-2)
After his team's 37-13 thrashing of arch rival Florida State last month, Gators coach Steve Spurrier initiated yet another war of words with Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden, accusing the latter of "instructing" his players to intentionally injure opponents during games (he leveled the same charge against the FSU headman in the mid 1990s). In this case, though, he's not alone. Tailback Earnest Graham, out three to five weeks with an injured knee, has threatened a lawsuit, claiming FSU tackle Darnell Dockett intentionally twisted his leg in a pileup during the game. (Graduation rate, all students: 67 percent; football players: 46 percent)

6. MARYLAND (10-1)
First-year head coach Ralph Friedgen's tenure got off to a rough start in September when linebacker Marlon Moye-Moore was convicted of misdemeanor assault. The charge stemmed from an incident at a nightclub last spring in which Moye-Moore and another Terp allegedly beat up a club patron in the men's room and stole $30 from him. Friedgen suspended Moye-Moore indefinitely, but restored him to the roster by midseason. Moye-Moore ended up starting six games for the Terps. (Graduation rate, all students: 63 percent; football players: 39 percent)

7. ILLINOIS (10-1)
Illini head coach Ron Turner no longer has to worry about living in Champaign on a beer budget. The university gave Turner, who is in his fifth season at the school, a one-year contract extension and pay raise last spring. He is now slated to make $700,000 per year through 2005. (Graduation rate, all students: 76 percent; football players: 54 percent)

8. TENNESSEE (10-2)
Vols defensive lineman Lynn McGruder was dismissed from the team in June after he was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell. McGruder was placed on pre-trial diversion and the drug charges will be deferred for one year and dismissed if he stays out of trouble. He's now enrolled at Oklahoma and may join the football team there next fall. (Graduation rate, all students: 56 percent; football players: 42 percent)

9. TEXAS (10-2)
Apparently 'Horns fans of all ages could drown their sorrows following UT's disappointing loss in the Big 12 championship game. Royal-Memorial Stadium's Endzone Club is in danger of losing its permit to sell alcohol after one employee served a 17-year-old undercover operative earlier this season. (Graduation rate, all students: 66 percent; football players: 54 percent)

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