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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 11 Dirtiest Coaches in College Football History

Top 11 Dirtiest Coaches in College Football History

Publish Date: 09/05/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Dirtiest coaches

Today we look at the dirtiest coaches that ever lived in College Football. Paying players and prostitutes to adultery on the job, these are the lowlifes of college football!

11) Jim Tressell

Tressell was accused of covering up NCAA violations, leading to his resignation more than a decade ago. A report published by Sports Illustrated further alleges that Tressell also rigged camp drawings to guarantee that top prospects would win jerseys and cleats while at his camps. The Tattoo scandal with Terrell Pryor is what effectively ended him.

Video: CNN: Jim Tressel leaves Ohio State

CNN: Jim Tressel leaves Ohio State

10) Gary Barnett

In 2004, coach Gary Barnett of the Colorado Buffaloes football team faced mounting doubts when allegations emerged of him providing drugs, strippers and sex escorts to recruits. Things took an even worse turn when nine women including their female kicker, accused players of sexual harassment and even rape. Although charges were eventually dropped, this scandal crippled the institution, ultimately leading to Coach Barnett’s firing.

9) Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz is not generally seen as a dirty coach, yet his tenure with each program he coached at ended just before they were placed on NCAA probation. NC State, Minnesota, Arkansas, Notre Dame and South Carolina were all found to have broken NCAA regulations under his guidance.

Holtz was in charge of the Notre Dame Football team when they were caught distributing steroids in their locker room during the late 80s and early 90s. While NCAA allowed them to handle things internally, there can be no doubt that Holtz had some level of knowledge regarding everything going on within his program.

8) Hugh Freeze

In five years as head coach of the Rebels, Freeze brought with him a cloud of scandal and controversy. Ole Miss had numerous violations for giving improper benefits to recruits and players – some in cash form. On July 21, Freeze resigned after uncovered phone records revealed calls to an escort service and an “unsettling pattern of conduct.”




7) Rick Neuheisel

Rick Neuheisel’s coaching career has been marked by controversy and turmoil since he joined Colorado in 1995. Following his departure from the Buffaloes in 1999, an NCAA investigation was launched into 53 recruiting violations committed while Neuheisel served as head coach – 51 of which occurred while he was employed at Colorado.

Neuheisel found himself in even deeper trouble at Washington when he improperly visited five of their recruits. After an NCAA investigation concluded, Colorado was placed on two years probation, and Neuheisel was prohibited from off-campus recruiting for seven months as part of his punishment.

After being confronted about his betting on college basketball and reportedly having conversations with the San Francisco 49ers, Neuheisel was dismissed from Washington.

6) Barry Switzer

After nearly two decades of successful football at the University of Oklahoma, they found themselves in the NCAA doghouse after multiple investigations of scandal in the program. Of particular note was quarterback Charles Thompson’s attempt to sell cocaine to a federal agent.

He was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to a two-year prison term.

Several Sooners were also arrested for multiple assaults with deadly weapons and rape. The negative media pressure eventually led to his resignation in 1989; fortunately, he became the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys, leading them to victory in 1996 at Super Bowl XXVIII.

Video: Barry Switzer 20 years later

Barry Switzer 20 years later

5) Bobby Petrino

As Petrino headed into his fifth season as Arkansas’ head coach, he had an unusual experience. In April 2012, his motorcycle crashed on Arkansas Highway 16 while he claimed to be alone on board; it turned out he was actually riding alongside former Arkansas volleyball player Jessica Dorrell whom he had hired just one month prior. Subsequently, Petrino confessed to cheating on his wife with Dorrell and was terminated shortly thereafter.

Video: The BIGGEST SCUMBAG In Sports Who's STILL Coaching!

The BIGGEST SCUMBAG In Sports Who’s STILL Coaching!

4) Pete Carroll

This scandal was so severe that Reggie Bush became the only Heisman Trophy winner who had to relinquish his trophy. We no longer talk about Pete Carroll’s great USC dynasty; instead, we focus on vacated wins and trophies.

USC was assessed a series of severe penalties in addition to its forfeited wins and loss in the BCS national championship. The NCAA imposed a three-year scholarship reduction and a two-year ban on postseason play.

It’s deplorable that Pete Carroll left USC right before the scandal broke and headed for the NFL. Coaches are typically held accountable for their decisions, yet Carroll also managed to get away with it here.

3) Urban Meyer

Where to begin with Meyer? Meyer ran the Florida Gator program into the ground and then retired due to health concerns, only to return a year or so later as the head coach at Ohio State. He would retire due to health concerns at Ohio State also.

Maybe he retired because he was always in constant scandals. In Florida, it seemed his players were always in trouble and getting arrested. Controversy followed at Ohio State also.

He somehow became a head coach in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and that didn’t go good also; the amount of things this man has done in his life will hopefully keep him from getting another job.


2) Ron Meyer

When people think of cheating teams, many immediately think about SMU. While other teams have done worse things than what SMU did, their violations were so serious that if they did now what they did again, they’d likely only receive a warning. The most serious violation was maintaining an “under the table” fund used for payments to players and their families to entice them to come to play at SMU. This led to changes in NCAA penalties for multiple rule violations over time–known as “death penalties.”

Essentially, SMU, to stay competitive in the SWC, began paying recruits to come to campus. Coach Ron Meyer quickly turned around the program with this strategy – leading them to receive the Death Penalty after being caught multiple times by NCAA inspectors even after being warned. It remains as the only team ever to receive such a punishment.

Video: SMU football gets NCAA Death Penalty

SMU football gets NCAA Death Penalty

1) Joe Paterno

Paterno had been the head coach of the Nittany Lions for 45 years when, in November 2011, his contract was terminated amid one of college athletics’ most shocking scandals. A lawsuit against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky claimed he sexually abused several children while employed at Penn State; it was discovered Paterno and school officials knew about these crimes from 1998 onwards but failed to take appropriate action until 2011.

Video: Court docs: Paterno knew about Sandusky abuse in 70s

Court docs: Paterno knew about Sandusky abuse in 70s


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