Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice was fired today, after months-old footage surfaced of him habitually verbally abusing players and throwing basketballs at them during practice. Sadly, Rice's outbursts and subsequent dismissal find him a pretty good company in the annals of college coaching.
For all the good they do, college athletic programs have often been a haven for explosive personalities and bad behavior. Here are some of the most notorious bad actors and outrageous displays:
Mike Price, Alabama Football
In December 2002, Price landed one of the most coveted jobs in college sports, being named football coach at the University of Alabama. But the dream was over before he ever coached a single game. He was fired in May for failing to live his "personal and professional life in a manner consistent with university policies," according to school president Robert Witt. What does that mean? Sports Illustrated answered the question with a piece that detailed an evening of debauchery they claimed Price enjoyed in Florida. According to the article, he spent a great deal of money getting dances from a stripper named Destiny, and later retired to his room with two other women, one of whom claimed, "We started screaming 'Roll Tide!' and he was yelling back, 'It's rolling, baby, it's rolling.'"
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Price would awaken to a $1,000 room service bill, Sports Illustrated reported, and a rumor mill that was beginning to swirl. He would later sue SI over the allegations of sex. The suit was settled out of court, with Price declaring himself "one happy man," but admitting that given another chance, "I definitely would have made a different decision that one night, no question. That was a bad night."
Bobby Knight, Indiana Basketball
Bobby Knight, the Grand Poobah of Explosive Tempers, once expressed his frustration with the refs by throwing a chair onto the court, was convicted in absentia of assaulting a police officer Puerto Rico and littered journalists, players, IU staffers and refs with profanities fairly regularly. In 2000, a videotape from 1997 surfaced that showed Knight choking Hoosier player Neil Reed. That final offense forced IU president Miles Brand to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy regarding Knight's behavior. Knight was gone that September when it was reported that he grabbed a student by the arm.
Woody Hayes, Ohio State Football
In the '50s, Woody Hayes was accused taking a swing at journalist, but insisted he had only "shoved him along." In the '70s he was fined for shoving a camera into a photographer's face and for charging an ABC cameraman. Hayes would strike his final blow in the 1978 Gator Bowl, when he punched an opposing player in the throat, touching off a bench-clearing brawl. He was fired the following day.
Ed Hall, Fairfield Football
In 1978, Fairfield was clinging to a 15-14 lead in the third quarter of a game against Western New England College when WNE kick returner Jim Brown found some daylight and appeared to be headed for the end zone. But Hall, himself a former college football player, ran onto the gridiron and took Brown down at midfield.
"Are you out of your mind, coach?" said Brown. "I guess I am," said Hall.
John Chaney, Temple Basketball
Temple and UMass enjoyed a heated rivalry beginning ion the late '80s, but it reached a boiling point during a 1994 press conference being held by UMass coach John Calipari, following a 56-55 win over Temple.
Cheney was furious, claiming that Calipari had intimidated the ref, and burst in screaming, "I'll kill your (expletive) a**. You remember that," Chaney screamed at Calipari. "I'll kick your a**. Kick your a**."
Worse yet, when one of Calipari's player stepped in between the two coaches, Cheney pushed the kid.
"Some things never cease to amaze me," said Calipari moments after Cheney was escorted from the room.
Chaney later apologized and served a one-game suspension.