If you thought a Classless Act was any type of behavior that could be considered degrading to the game, well, your right.
We're back again with Classless Acts of the 2007 season. None of the Rich Rodriguez-West Virginia content is included because that situation has spilled well into 2008 and will be considered next year.
There are several strong candidates and once again, we've opened this to voting. You get only one vote, so choose carefully. Here we go:
1. Texas A&M and Dennis Franchione: There was a lot that went down in College Station so we decided to group it together. As a season with much promise began to unravel after a 34-17 loss at Miami, word was leaked to the San Antonio Express News that Franchione had been selling a secret email newsletter called VIP Connections to elite boosters for $1,200 a pop. As if he needed the extra coin. He was making $2 million a year to coach the Aggies.
When it became clear he would be fired, Franchione decided to go for two with 4:32 remaining at Nebraska and his team clinging to a 36-14 lead. At the Alamo Bowl, an Aggie yell leader said, "Joe Paterno's on his death bed! And someone needs to find him a casket!" Then a Texas A&M fan, obviously not wanting to wait his turn at the concession stand, was caught on camera digging in his nose and consuming a tasty snack.
2. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: The mother of all tirades: "I'm a man! I'm 40!" Gundy went off on Oklahoman reporter Jenni Carlson for "inaccuracies" in a column about quarterback Bobby Reid, who had been benched in favor of Zac Robinson. In the end, Carlson was proven right, as the coddled Reid expressed his dissatisfaction by transferring to Texas Southern.
To Gundy's credit, the rant sparked his wobbling team, whose 1-2 start included a 41-23 loss on national TV to Troy. The Cowboys went to the Insight Bowl and Gundy got his contract extended by one year. To Carlson's credit, she didn't take her foot off the pedal either, taking Gundy and his staff to task for sending in the offensive starters with five minutes left against Baylor and the Cowboys leading by 31.
3. Mike Leach, Texas Tech: Lost amid Gundy's rant was Leach throwing defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich under the bus after the 49-45 loss to the Cowboys. Setencich "resigned" the next day, but Leach was only warming up.
After a 59-43 loss to Texas, Leach went after the officials (view the two-part YouTube video here and here). Without naming him, Leach noted that referee Randy Christal lives in Austin. "I think it's disturbing that Austin residents are involved in this. People work too hard, too long, there's too much money invested in these games to allow that. Am I condemning the crew? Hell yeah, I'm condemning the crew." Leach was fined $10,000 by the Big 12.
4. Joe Glenn, Wyoming: Glenn started this and gets the blame over Utah's Kyle Whittingham. On the Monday before the teams played, Glenn guaranteed to Cowboy students that his team would win. Whittingham's Utes then poured it on, building a 43-0 lead in the third quarter.
It was at that point that Utah successfully recovered an onside kick that sent Glenn into the stratosphere. Glenn issued a one-finger salute to Whittingham before the Utes finished it up with a 50-0 victory. Glenn was reprimanded by the Mountain West Conference.
5. Joe Paterno, Penn State: Paterno, in a race with Bobby Bowden for most career victories, was in a race to get somewhere on Oct. 5. He was involved in what was described as an incident of road rage, first reported on Blue White Illustrated, the Penn State Rivals board.
As the story goes, the coach was tailgating a couple driving around campus, then: "The driver gets out and starts screaming obscenities at the woman [who was driving], flipping both middle fingers and repeatedly saying 'do you know who I am!' "
It takes four days for the Internet-fueled story to be reported by the mainstream media. Paterno first denies it happened, then says he was doing nothing more than playing traffic cop, which is what you want your then-80-year-old coach doing.
There were other problems, namely Paterno's players getting into fights, further embarrassing the university and quaint berg of State College. (The team's poster schedule actually included the words "Fight On!")
Paterno successfully cleaned up that mess too, ordering his team to clean up the stadium after home games. But that was merely a preemptive strike by the coach to keep university officials from clamping down. After five home games, Paterno told his team that cleanup duty was no longer a Sunday morning requirement.
6. Crewcut Charlie Weis, Notre Dame: How low will the Fighting Irish go under Crewcut Charlie? The fall from grace started on Jan. 3 when the Irish showed little fight in a 41-14 loss to Louisiana State in the Sugar Bowl.
Weis then moved back the start of spring practice so he could squeeze in his gastric bypass malpractice lawsuit. That ended in mistrial so they had to do it all over again in the summer. The jurors barely had time to send for coffee and donuts before denying Weis all of his claims. Weis then said that his celebrity "was certainly used against me in the trial."
In between, Weis denied claims that anything was physically wrong with prized recruit Jimmy Clausen, although it was clear that the quarterback had surgery on this throwing elbow. Notre Dame also kept secret for two months that Clausen had been cited for transporting alcohol as a minor. Defensive lineman Derrell Hand was arrested and jailed after allegedly propositioning a female police officer who was posing as a prostitute.
Then the defections started. Zach Frazier was the first to leave, and fellow quarterback Demetrius Jones, who would start the opener, followed. Weis made the situation worse, denying Jones a release from his scholarship before agreeing to the departure. The Irish looked unprepared and offensively challenged in games. They finished 3-9 and TV ratings were off 40% from 2006 and half of what they were in 2005. Of course, Weis supporters say Tyrone Willingham was to blame for all of this.
7. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: After Dantonio was named coach on Nov. 27, 2006, he installed a clock in the Spartan practice facility that counted down the seconds until the Michigan game. "At least they'll be on time for the game," Michigan left tackle Jake Long remarked.
When the Wolverines lost to Appalachian State, Dantonio asked if there should be a moment of silence. Then it came time to play the game and Dantonio's team came from ahead to lose, 28-24. It was open season for the Wolverines, with running back Mike Hart pouring it on, referring to Michigan State as a "little brother" of Michigan.
Dantonio couldn't take it, saying the Wolverines "need to check themselves sometimes." He also said, "if they want to mock us all they want to mock us, I'm telling them, it's not over." Hey coach, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
8. Mark Richt, Georgia: After the Bulldogs scored first against Florida, Richt's troops went running onto the field to celebrate, resulting in two 15-yard penalties.
Nearly every commentator and columnist applauded the move, but consider this: The play was reviewed and had it been ruled that Georgia did not score, the Bulldogs would have been pushed back to the 31-yard line, possibly changing the dynamics of the game. Under any scenario, this was a bush league move.
9. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: Navy coach Paul Johnson reportedly was upset when Schiano kept star running back Ray Rice in the game with 2:17 to play and the Scarlet Knights leading, 34-17. Rice, of course, made it worse by scoring a touchdown. Then Rutgers' fans piled on, showering the Midshipmen players, fans and families with obscenities.
The next week, Rutgers called three timeouts in the final 2:03 of the first half while holding a 45-0 lead against Norfolk State. "Forty-five-zip and you're calling three timeouts at the end?" Spartan coach Pete Adrian said. "Hey, if that turns you on, it's fine."