NCAA

The Most Controversial Moments of College Football’s Offseason, Ranked

West Virginia v Texas

Who said college football drama has to stay put in the offseason? It certainly didn’t this year. From people running their mouths to issues with a new locker room, many schools, players, and coaches found themselves in the middle of controversies. From petty jabs to coaching disputes, this offseason saw all forms of crazy drama — so we ranked it all.

7. ‘Horns down’

People have targeted the Texas Longhorns all year. Everyone from Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, who notably bought a 3-month-old calf, told attendees at a function that it was Angus, because, “I wasn’t going to buy no Longhorn.”

NYPD got into the mix, tweeting a “Horns Down” gif after a person was stopped with a dummy wearing a Longhorns hoody after trying to use it in the carpool lane. West Virginia University, which got in trouble for a “Horns down” taunt after a win over Texas last year, found a way to keep it going, putting the Longhorns logo upside down as a visual gag. Although most of this to be in good-hearted fun, the trend lasted the entire offseason. 

6. Dan Mullen fudges numbers

Another relatively light-hearted gesture happened when Florida head coach Dan Mullen jokingly talked about his tendency to sneak in little jabs. Explaining his methods, Mullen said the attendance at a game against rival Florida State may be 41,140 after the Gators beat them 41-14 in 2018 to secure the Seminoles’ first losing season in over 40 years. 

Mullen put this into practice, as it later came out that the 39,476 people listed in attendance against Georgia was a jab at the 39 years and 476 games since the Bulldogs last won a championship. 

5. Louisiana’s expensive locker room

Louisiana State University courted controversy when they unveiled a fully-renovated locker room that cost $28 million. In a world where student-athletes struggle to get by on standard living wages and schools often need money in other places, LSU professors and students questioned whether this was the most meaningful allocation of funds, which LSU was quick to point out were all privately raised. 

4. Nick Saban cannot give opponents credit

Nick Saban is one of the most heavily-decorated coaches in the history of college football. However, when things do not go his way he tends to make excuses and fail to give the other team credit. After losing to Clemson in last season’s title game, Saban spoke as though the loss had everything to do with his team and nothing to do with Clemson’s success. It is a mindset which appears to work down to his players, too. 

3. Wendy’s at the White House 

The Trump administration has a complicated history regarding the former tradition of inviting teams to the White House. If he thinks a team likes him enough to show up, he tends to invite it. If the team publicly spars with him or will not show up in droves, he either uninvites or never invites them. Clemson did show up, and instead of a feast fit for a king, they got cold fast food and a whole lot of attention.

2. Targeting rule changes

The most far-reaching controversy of the 2019 offseason pertains to targeting. Targeting, which pertains to excessive contact with the helmet or forcible contact to the head or neck, is considered cheap and dangerous. The rule gives officials more time to review targeting to ensure they are getting the calls right. The new rules also punish players who are repeat violators of the rules. 

1. Urban Meyer retires again

Urban Meyer has a history of retiring for health concerns amid unrelated controversies, and this year was no different. After coaching his final game, the 54-year-old announced he was stepping away from the game to focus on his health. The announcement came after allegations that Meyer was not straightforward with the abusive past of assistant Zach Smith, the latest in a long line of controversies for the coach.