Who do you root against in college football?

by Gary Shelton on May 31, 2018 · 4 comments

in general

FSU fans are unlikely to pull for Fisher./STEVEN MUNCIE

FSU fans are unlikely to pull for Fisher./STEVEN MUNCIE

Thursday, 3 a.m.

You want your team to win all right. Boolah-boolah, and all of that.

You want to hear your fight song, and you want to smile at your mascot, and you want to applaud the band. You want to cheer for your quarterback, and your tailback, and your head coach. That's what college football is all about, isn't it?

Well, that, and pulling for the opposing coach to suffer from acid reflux.

The noble opposition? Really? Was it ever that? Has anyone ever pulled for their rival coach because he's such an

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honorable cat? Has anyone ever thought that their chief enemy wasn't a drunken, cheating scoundrel who just knew how to cover up his program's sins? He is Darth Vader with a whistle, Hannibal Lecter with a headset.

Of course not. These days, you not only pull for your head coach, you pull against  your opposing head coach. You celebrate his team's defeats. You make jokes if the opposing quarterback struggles.

You are mean, and you enjoy it. Because loving your team means hating the others, right?

Oh, there have been some charming rogues. I got a kick out of Steve Spurrier, who tweaked a lot of opponents, but he did it with a glint in his eye. Barry Switzer wasn't a bad guy when I dealt with him.  I thought Bear Bryant was carved out of stone.

So here we go. A list of the coaches who bring out the anger in college football the most.

1. Nick Saban, Alabama: Saban wins more than anyone else, which seems to be his biggest crime. But there are stories about how hard Saban is to work with and how unfriendly he's been. Also, he generally wins the recruiting wars, which means he's playing with a stacked deck.

2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Even when Meyer was at Florida, there was a standoffish nature to him. It was as if Florida football was no one else's business but Meyer's. He won two national titles at Florida, but he remains an unpopular figure.

3. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: Fisher's constant flirting with other programs led FSU fans to believe that Fisher wouldn't be around long, but the way he departed was messy and detached, as if his years with the Seminoles meant nothing. FSU fans will be gleeful when he loses.

4. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: Harbaugh came to Michigan cutting corners, and he's never enjoyed a wide base of support. Part of that is that he still hasn't finished higher than third in the Big 10. Criticism of Harbaugh is easy to find.

5. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame: The Irish head coach is often going to be on this list. Notre Dame gets a lot of favors in the polls, and they remain a puffed up program that hasn't won a title for years.

6. Lane Kiffin, FAU: A lot of people have jeered Kiffin since he was at Tennessee and tweaking Florida. Personally, that's hard for me, because Kiffin treated me to one of the greatest coverage days in my career. But as much fun as it is to hear Kiffin give a hard time to Saban, he still has to win to get back to the bright lights.

7. Bobby Petrino, Louisville: Petrino can coach. The trouble is, you don't know where he's going to be the day after tomorrow. Petrino jumped Louiville once before, then jumped the Falcons, then was fired at Arkansas.

8. Chip Kelly, UCLA Bruins: People keep hiring Kelly, and they keep talking about what a genius he is. But Kelly burns through jobs at an alarming rate. He'll have his moments with the Bruins, but he's unlikely to win a national title.

9. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame-Kansas: Call it an alumni nomination. There was no one more fun to pull against than Weis, the cocky offensive "genius." In one year at Florida, his offense finished 102nd in the nation.

10. Tom Herman, Texas: Herman blew into Austin as if he had invented another down. In the end, however, he made Texas fans miss Charlie Strong. Herman will have to get better in a hurry, or he'll be a memory, too.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Willson May 31, 2018 at 10:09 pm

I think that you nailed it too. What is the story about Lane Kiffin giving you a great coverage day?? The national championship game?


Gary Shelton June 1, 2018 at 8:42 am

No. I was in Nashville for a Bucs’ preseason game the year Monte left for Tennessee. I drove down to see him. He acted like I was his long-lost kid. Just doted over me, and he told Lane to be good to me. Lane was. He gave me a half-an-hour or so to talk about fathers and sons and football. He took me into his recruiting room. He showed me the new facility. Everything. Then, when I got ready to go, he invited me back for the evening meeting. Turns out, they had a gag planned on the team where Monte and Ed Orgeron (now the coach at LSU) were going to stage a fight. One of the coaches was going to rip one of Monte’s players, and Monte was going to rush to his rescue. In the end, Monte played a different role, but it was a fantastic glimpse into a program. The local writers were ticked that I got that kind of access. I’m still appreciative. It was terrific.


Cecil DeBald May 31, 2018 at 8:41 am

I was trying to think of anyone else, but came up blank – so you nailed the main ones!



Gary Shelton May 31, 2018 at 11:05 am

I’m sure I forgot some, and some will drive certain fans crazier than others.


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